How do you sell consulting services along with your existing online services? I like to keep things simple. Back in 2002 I had my first, paid consulting gig. I was paid for one hour of my time. It was then that I realized, “People will always be looking for answers to their problems.”
How do you… how do we… how do I? They want answers. They’re hungry for a solution.
The word “hunger” works perfectly here. When you’re hungry for something (food, knowledge, success) it becomes a driving force.
Make a list of your top three favorite foods. I was going to say five, but that might take too long. Don’t deliberate about it. Just pick one. Now, imagine you’re sitting down at the table to eat. You’re really hungry. You haven’t eaten all day.
The waiter at this surprise dinner brings one of your favorite foods from the list to the table. It looks great! The presentation is perfect.
You start eating. Then you hesitate when you realize, not only is the food good, but this is one of the best recipes or servings you’ve had of this dish in your life! Maybe God is cooking in the kitchen? When you’ve finished, there’s even a bit of a letdown.
Why? Because it may be a long time before you eat something like this again. But wait… it turns out there’s more!
You’re almost relieved. You had room for seconds but didn’t think there were any.
So, you keep eating until you’re stuffed.
Afterward, you lean back in your chair. You know the feeling. You ate too much, but you’re more than satisfied.
Then, the waiter appears with another one of your favorite foods on the list.
It looks great, but you sadly realize, you couldn’t possibly eat another mouthful of food. As visually appealing as the second dish may be, you’re just too full.
Buyers Must Be Hungry for What You’re Serving
Likewise, buyers must be hungry. They must be hungry for what you’re serving. I used food as an example because we can all relate to it.
Once your hunger has been satisfied, you’re no longer a buyer. Not until the hunger returns.
Think about how the sales process works. No matter how good your offer, it won’t work well unless it’s placed in front of a hungry audience.
Today, there are many similar online services out there. You can get the same kind of food cooked a hundred different ways on every fifth website you visit. Of course, we’re not talking about food now. You might call this a parable.
There are business owners out there hungry for specific solutions they haven’t been able to successfully acquire on their own. This is where consulting comes in.
Getting Started with Consulting
Let me connect some dots for you. Back in the day, I was focusing on developing websites for local businesses. One of my clients had few questions she wanted to ask me. She was a consultant. I guess the more she thought about it, the more questions she had because she finally asked, “Could I just pay for an hour of consulting and talk to you about a bunch of questions I had on my mind? I need some technical direction.”
That’s how the consulting side of my business got started.
How would it feel if someone asked you, “Can I pay you for an hour or two of consulting?”
How would you respond?
Would you be happy, excited, nervous? All three?
Basically, it’s no different than if someone asked, “Hey, I’d love to get your advice on something…”
Think about it, we give advice we believe to be true all the time without really overthinking it. Why not get paid for it? Probably because you don’t think you can.
Selling Perceived Value
Just about everything in life has a price tag of some kind attached to it. Many years ago, I heard a seminar speaker say, “I share the same information at my $7,000 seminar that I have in my $7 book.” Today, it would probably be a $15 book and a 15k seminar. He went on the say, “The difference with the seminar is, I share 10x the number of case studies and examples.”
As you can see from the above example, much of the value is based on how the material is presented. The perception or perceived value changes in a live setting.
The same is true when it comes to consulting. You can write a book and teach people what you know. You can also teach the same information to an individual and help them apply it to their business.
When all is said and done, the person on the receiving end still has to implement what you’re sharing with them.
Some people call this coaching. They’re just labels, so I guess you can call it whatever you’d like to call it. The important thing is, you’re getting paid for what you know.
Packaging a Service Like Consulting
Most of you are already consulting with clients on an informal basis. For example, if I contacted you and had questions about the services you offer, you’d answer them. If I asked you about the pros and cons of different approaches to the type of service you provide, you’d tell me.
How is that really any different from consulting?
It’s part of your pre-sales process, most likely? Of course, eventually, you’d stop answering questions and get me to sign a contract and make a down payment.
The pre-sales questions and answers fit into the “outer ring” of the consulting process.
Why not consider adding consulting as an additional component in your current structure?
For example, maybe your clients would like to meet once a month with you either in person, by phone, via video, etc? You could offer one price for that, maybe up to an hour per month? You could have another package that doesn’t include monthly meetings.
Here’s the thing, if you don’t put a price on your time, most of the time – others won’t value it. It’s just human nature.
Place a Value on Your Time
If a client knows they’re paying for one hour of your time, they won’t assume they’re getting an unlimited amount of it.
For example, what if you have a “talker” on your hands? What if you show up for a one-hour meeting and the client is 15-20 minutes late? They may be apologetic, but what if they expect you to still give an entire hour of your time? Will you be late for the next meeting? Will you end up giving them 1-hr and 20-minutes of your time?
A top consultant once told me, “If you don’t control your time, others will control it for you.”
Over time, I’ve noticed a pattern. First, the most intense part of the communication process with new clients happens on the front end. This is the place where it’s great to go above and beyond and exceed the client’s expectations.
Afterward, if the client requires time for your continued, ongoing input, you must include it in your pricing.
You have a finite amount of time. Before growth or success happens, it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like you have plenty of time. You can talk to someone for an hour or more and it has little to no impact on your day. Once you have a lot of clients, that changes.
So, whether it’s displayed on a pricing chart, in a contract, or somewhere else, make sure you include a specific amount of time for any ongoing services (especially consulting). Anything over, beyond, or above that time limit is an additional charge.
Find your balance.
Ongoing Consulting and One-Off Projects
One of my clients hired a branding consultant. The consultant charged her approximately $15,000 for a three-month project. During that time, she provided my client with guidance, suggestions, templates, etc.
My client is a national, corporate speaker. She also provided her with different types of contracts for various kinds of speaking engagements. It was a one-off project. After three months, it was over. I guess there was an option to pay for ongoing advice, but after $15k, my client had her fill of advice!
With the one-off approach, you have a beginning, middle, and end to the project. This is different from ongoing consulting. With ongoing consulting, you’re keeping pace with the client and the client is keeping pace with you. It’s like being in the fighter’s corner, so to speak, giving them advice in-between rounds.
As long as there’s a fight, you’re there in the corner.
That’s how I’d describe ongoing consulting. It’s a partnership of sorts. With the one-off project, you ride into town, slay the dragon, and then are off to the next adventure.
There’s nothing wrong with that, either.
Courses That Lead to Consulting Gigs
Getting started with consulting is tougher for some people than it is others because they suffer from “imposter syndrome.” They never feel like they know enough, so it’s difficult for them to pull the trigger and get started.
They’re always studying, always researching, but never really getting started.
I remember when I first started getting interviews in the media. A little voice inside my head said, “Why are they interviewing you? There are more qualified people out there than you.”
The first radio interviews I did had people calling in to ask questions about digital marketing. I remember getting nervous and thinking, “What if I don’t know the answer?!”
I felt like a kid trying to work up the courage to ask the pretty girl to the dance.
In short, you face your fears until they don’t scare you anymore. That’s what it comes down to.
You Have Plenty of Options
Another option is to package your insights and suggestions into a small course and sell it to your clients. If they like your course, you know they like your style and you’ll be a good fit for them when it comes to consulting.
The course becomes the frontend product that leads to a higher-priced consulting gig on the backend.
If you don’t offer it, you’ll never sell it. An old partner of mine created a $1,000 information product. He wanted me to sell it with him and split the profits. I agreed, but my expectations were very low. I almost couldn’t believe it when it started selling! That’s what I mean when I say, “You’ll never sell what you don’t offer.”
Get out of your head and get into the game. See for yourself what will work and what won’t in the real world.
The Free to Fee Approach
I’m sure you realize there are more than just a handful of ways to market and sell anything? That goes for consulting, too.
If you’re an unknown in your niche, you can always prove your value by giving away free content.
I can almost hear the yawns at that suggestion. Let me repack that idea for you.
What if you have a separate domain – yourname.tv? This is just an example. Maybe once a week you release a new training video for the marketplace – helping them solve problems. Beneath the video, you can have your contact information. Simple. To the point.
Maybe you can use your town’s name in the domain? It doesn’t have to be a “talking head” video. You can simply record your screen and be talking in the background. Or, you could use audio? You can have a local podcast where you share tips.
With this approach, you prove your value to your prospects on the front end and then offer your paid services on the backend.
Hearing your voice and/or seeing your face will go a long way towards creating the know-like-trust bond with your audience.
Building Trust, One Day at a Time
Think about some of the people who’ve had a positive influence in your life from afar. Maybe you enjoy listening to their podcast or watching the videos they create? After a while, you feel like you know them. You look forward to hearing from them.
You can create that same kind of connection with a group of people who will go on to become clients and friends for life.
Don’t overcomplicate it. Just focus on helping people. You don’t have to be a Rockstar. You don’t have to be witty, charming, sexy or look like a lab experiment to stand out. You can be YOU and it will still work.
Yes, you can sell consulting, right alongside the other services you’re selling online. Let’s call a “bolt-on” service. As hard is it may be for you to believe, you may be giving away the same information others are making a full-time living charging for.
To get started, you must keep it simple. Maybe accept one or two clients to start with and work all the “kinks” out of your process. Are you going to consult in person or via audio/video/text?
Don’t get caught up with labels. If you want to call yourself a coach, go ahead. You won’t get arrested by the consulting police. It’s your business, right? If you want to, go ahead and create the label you think might be intriguing in your niche. Be a digital newsletter consultant for restaurants! It just might open a few doors.
Remember, everything has to be sold. That means you have to talk about it. You have to share the benefits. You must create content around that service. I always share a new service with my existing clients. They’ll give me honest feedback (through their actions).
Now, it’s over to you.
What do you think?
Feel free to share your thoughts, comments, or insights below!
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