Sick of Being Underpaid for Your Consulting Services? How to Fix It

consultant on her laptopPart 1 of a two-part series

Ever feel this way?

The estimate I give doesn’t reflect the work I do.

There’s nothing quite like getting paid $500 for $5000 worth of work to strip you of your confidence, make you resent the human race and drive you to do the unthinkable — looking for a JOB.

I’ve been there too, and so have some of my clients who have years of professional experience and top-notch expertise as business, marketing and creative consultants.

When you start a business, you just want clients. Most consultants and business owners are hungry for work and will take almost anything.

But then this thing happens.

You’re flooded with deliverables, projects, demanding clients. You’re working crazy hours and yet you’re still struggling to cover the nut.

What gives?

You, actually.

You give. And give. And give. Away. Too. Much.

Giving is good of course. Accept when you give so much that you’re screwing yourself over in return.

This drives me crazy when it happens to me.

It drives me crazier when I see it happen to business owners who have mad skills, deliver excellent work and get valuable results for their clients.

Newsflash: Most of those clients you’re delighting are not going to volunteer more money. They know they’re getting a killer deal. They’d pay more for your services, but most (none maybe) won’t tell you that.

It’s up to you. It’s up to you to command what your worth. It’s up to you to set client expectations and spell out the boundaries.

You are the boss. So lay it down LIKE A BOSS.

This has been one of the trickiest lessons I’ve had to learn over the last few years.
We’re not only service providers, we are business owners.

So make, set, bend (sometimes) and enforce the rules.

Also, implement some or all of these strategies to prune away the crazy hours and penny pinchers.

Rethink your pricing model

If you have to work a mikillion hours to cover your bills then it’s time to take a close look at the ways you get paid for your work. There are myriad ways to charge for your services . . . and you don’t have to pick just one. You’ll hear all kinds of advice on this, but it’s up to you to figure out how to handle it. I mostly have package pricing, which has worked well for me most of the time, and has seriously hurt me others. Because of that, I now know when hourly pricing makes sense (though I still tend to stay away from it). There’s nothing inherently wrong or bad with hourly, flat fee, value pricing, commission, barter, monthly or retainer pricing. What can be bad or go wrong is how you apply these, how often and at what rate. You can make a living off of continually bartering. At the same token, you don’t have to take barter off the table. I recently made a $7500 investment in my business and struck a barter deal. I’ll give you $2000 in marketing consulting. This worked for both us because we both feel it’s a fair exchange.Bartering as a main pricing strategy will put you out of business fast. It’s really more a “bend the rules” option.

Give yourself a raise

When was the last time you gave yourself a raise? Three months ago? A year ago? Never? When I work with creative consultants, I see the doubt and fear wash across their face when I tell them to raise their rates. And I wrestle with that doubt and fear too everytime I raise my rates. They ask me Will people pay for this? And the answer is yes, the right person will pay for it. I only work with professionals. My clients are sometimes newer in their business but many of them have 15 or more years of career under their belt. They absolutely deliver value. The right people pay for excellent work. The answer is to find better clients, not stoop to everyday low prices (you ARE NOT Walmart). Yes, it can be a little scary because raising your rate is a split second decision that does take some time to fully implement and get results from. Yes, you will lose some clients. You will also need a smaller number of clients to make the same amount of money or more. You will not make less money by raising your rates, as long as you also get clear about who will pay your rates.

Stand for your value

So, this takes guts but you’ve got to be willing to say no and walk away. Over the summer I had a client who asked me to provide a lower rate for work that I did. At first I was anxious and then I got mad. I’d already done a different project where I went above and beyond and felt like this client had gotten way more than what she paid. That’s when it hit me. I hadn’t taken a stand and I had been yielding to her on several other things. Little things, but things that were counter to how I typically do business. Whether she was consciously doing it or not, she was taking advantage of my flexibility . . . and I had to put a stop to it. This is part of being a business owner. Setting expectations. Educating clients. Reminding them of your value. Drawing a line in the sand. Do this firmly and respectfully . . but do it! This is the email I sent back to my client:

I can understand requesting suppliers to reduce rates, and while I never like to say no, my rate will stay the same.

What we can do is adjust blog post length. This was a lengthy post at ### words. If we keep the posts around ### words then the price would be $$$.

I enjoy working with you and the ____ family so just let me know how you would like to proceed.

Be clear, direct and willing to walk away. My client agreed to adjust what she was getting rather the price and we’re still working together today.

Get paid to do proposals

OMG, can I just tell you about this brilliant idea that I wish was mine?! I originally heard about this from Perry Marshall and instantly began recommending this to all my clients (and applying it to my business). In my years as a marketer and PR director proposals were the lifeline of new business. And yet, it always seemed ridiculous to spend 60 hours to pull something together for a 5-25% chance of getting the work. I always felt like there had to be a better way.

There is. The process is called discovery (you can name it whatever you want though). Instead of running off to write a proposal after a 30- or 60- minute conversation with a prospect, explain to them that you you need to get under the hood of their business to better understand the problem and provide a solution that’s actually going to work for them. How can you truly know what their problem is from one conversation? Without discovery, proposals are a waste of your time and their time, so charge them for your efforts to really figure out what’s going on. Chances are they’ll want you to implement the solution but even if they hire someone else, you still get paid. Way better than spending 60 (or any) hours on free work right?

Stay tuned for three more changes you can make to get paid what you’re worth. In the meantime, which of these strategies will you use to command the fees that reflect the value of your work? Why?

 

I Want to Hear From You!

60-Minute Consult

Request your complimentary consultation  & walk away with 3 ways you can earn more money & visibility.

Click to Apply

 

Resist “The Drift” on Your Coaching or Consulting Business (Part 1)

raftingIf you haven’t already, it’s a good time to think about how you can simplify, leverage and work smarter as we cruise into another new year.

I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, a story . . .

Years ago, I went on a white water rafting trip with some buddies up in The Forks of Maine (yep, that’s me in the back under the arrow). The first day we paddled our arms off through class IV rapids on the Kennebec River. There’s something so thrilling about eight people sitting on the edges of a rubber raft paddling in unison as big water tosses you around like a cork. It takes great focus on doing the ONE thing that’s going to get you down the river without falling out or flipping the raft. As long as you paddle at the right time and stop paddling at the right time, you’ll avoid going for a violent swim.

On day 2 of our trip we went rafting on the Dead River. Even though the water on the Dead River seemed tamer than the Kennebec, we made a paddling error that pinned the side of our raft against a huge boulder in the middle of the river. The water pushed the ends of the raft around the boulder as we all tried to scramble to the top of the rock but one by one we all tumbled into the water.

I’ll never forget the rapids pushing me down and smashing me into the rocky riverbed. I couldn’t believe how fast I was moving compared to how slowly our raft seemed to be going downstream just moments ago. I popped out of the water just in time to see that I had missed my chance to get into another raft. Other rafts were within my sight but they felt miles away as I rapidly drifted downstream.

Then I heard a man screaming “SWIM. SWIM. SWIM.”

And I finally realized I was just floating along. No wonder I was at the mercy of the shockingly swift current.

I swam like a mad woman until I felt someone hoisting me out of the water and into a raft. I was stunned and exhausted.

I was also alive. Damn that was close.

Many entrepreneurs experience this with their business. They get pushed down and around by external forces and find themselves far away from where they thought they’d be.

At best, it’s disappointing and exhausting. At worst, it’s a terrifying fight for your life . . . or at the very least a fight for your livelihood.

Michael Hyatt, virtual mentor & author of Platform, calls it “the drift.”

This time of year you may be picking up your head only to realize you’ve drifted away from where you intended to be at the start of the year.

If you feel that you’ve drifted off course, stay tuned. In the next email I’m going to give you guidance and an action plan to help you get back on track now so that you can go avoid swirling around in an eddy in 2017.

If you’d like to minimize your drift and take control of your business like the boss you already are, take advantage of my free Simplify Your Business Session.  

You’re Elevator Pitch Sounds Goofy (Here’s How to Sound Like the Real & Outstanding You)

Entrepreneurs have been asking me lately how to introduce themselves and their businesses. Essentially, how to deliver an elevator pitch without rambling or clamming up while sounding like the REAL you.

I break it down for you in today’s video and I challenge you to try it on for size.

There’s an optional element — The Call to Action — that I will sometimes use ONLY when it feels right. I don’t include it in the video but this BONUS section is simply inviting someone to take the next step with you. For example, “If you’d like to learn more, you can . . .” and add a free offer — “schedule a complimentary consultation” or “request my daily affirmations”.

What’s your “Free to Be Me” introduction? Share it in the comments below. 

When you don’t want to tell your story (& what to do about it)

I didn’t want to tell it.

There I was in front of 50 woman, standing on a dark stage because the lights had eerily gone out moments before. As I began to tell my story . . . alone, in the dark, completely exposed, I felt just like the child and young woman I was speaking about. Small. Scared. Wanting to be anywhere but there.

Then, poof, the lights flashed back on . . . and I froze.

Alone, lights blaring, completely exposed.

I forgot what I wanted to say next so I didn’t say a word for what seemed like two cycles at a stop light (think very dramatic pause).

Life is going to throw curve balls at you. You will feel resistance around telling your story. First, know that this is NORMAL! Then check out the video for some powerful insights to help you tell it anyway.

What pieces of your story sometimes feel like a burden to you or (worse) your audience? Let us know in the comments so we can breakthrough that resistance once and for all. 

5 Overlooked Ways Great Entrepreneurs Get More Clients With Story

When your audience is bombarded with nearly 5,000 marketing messages, 250 ads and hundreds of email every day, it can feel nearly impossible to get them to pay attention to you, never mind open their wallets and buy from you.

The secret to silencing all the noise and turning yourself into client catnip?

Tell a great story. Tell your great story.

I know people are telling you that you need to tell your story to attract clients.

 

Maybe they’re giving you some advice. Things like:

Be authentic.

Have a turning point.

Talk about how great everything is now and how it sucked before.

 

But they’re not telling you HOW

Or where to get started

Or what to say

Let’s change that today and dive into the 5 overlooked ways to get more clients with your story.

1. Be Brave: Telling your story is truly an act of courage. You’re putting yourself and your message out into the world for everyone to see. It’s a liberating and (at first) terrifying experience when you’re sharing personal details that shine a spotlight on who you are and how you’ve come to this place in your business and life. How do you bust through the fear? Write down all the times in your life that you were brave. Write down what happened. Now go look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Will telling my story kill me?” No, it won’t. Just like all those other brave things you did, what happens on the other side of the telling will surprise and delight you.

2. Be detailed: Include the details in your story. Don’t just string together a makeshift timeline of events. Pick a moment and go deep. Tell us the date, the place, the names of people, the things you saw, heard, smelled, felt. One of my clients starts her story by putting her audience in the kitchen with her as she feeding her twin babies, listening to NPR when she hears on the radio that 1 in 8 kids get cancer. Another client walks out of Trader Joe’s parking and sees a million dragonflies swarming her car just as she’s contemplating making a major life change. Do you see that? Are you in that scene? You can  create the same experience in your story when you paint the picture with words.

3. Tell Your Truth: Comedian Norm MacDonald (aka Col. Sanders) says

Comedy is best when it’s truthful, but it doesn’t have to be factual.

The same can be said about your story.

Your audience cares more about the truth, than the facts. A fact from my story is that I almost died in 1998. The truth surrounding that fact is that I almost died at my own hands because I felt hopeless, worthless, invisible . . .

Most people if not all people have felt at least one of those emotions at some point in their life and, as uncomfortable as it is for me to share that truth, I know that’s the very place where my story begins to stir the emotions of my audience and mirror back something deep within them.

4. Share Your Failure & Redemption: You must have failure in order to have redemption. Be vulnerable. Get messy. Your audience is hungry to hear it all. In her latest book, Rising Strong, social work researcher, TED speaker, and author Brené Brown points out just how little time we devote to the messy parts of our stories:

Embracing failure without acknowledging the real hurt and fear that it can cause, or the complex journey that underlies rising strong, is gold-plating grit. To strip failure of its real emotional consequences is to scrub the concepts of grit and resilience of the very qualities that make them both so important–toughness, doggedness, and perseverance.

Nicola Taylor, a talented fine art photographer, says in her post about the stories of creative entrepreneurs . . .

I want to hear the stories filled with failures and missteps. I want to hear from the person who says I can’t tell you how many times I nearly gave up. I want to hear how they found courage and determination when they kept getting shut down. I want to know how they trained themselves to sleep like a baby while they were screwing up left, right and center.

You want your audience to love you? You want them to remember you? You want to matter to them? Bare your grit.

5. Rally the Audience: You’re story is about you, but it’s for your audience. When clients tell me their story isn’t working, this is the place we look at first. The job of your story is to get the audience to change their story. When you tell your story well, it will get your audience from “It won’t work for me” into “If she can do it, so can I”. That’s why I tell my clients to start with their message first. Before you even write a single word about your story, get clear on what you want people to know, feel and do after hearing your story. Because that’s where you convert stone cold listeners into followers, fans and clients.

What do you struggle with most when it comes to telling your story? Tell us in the comments!

Claim your Complimentary ConsultationMakeover My Marketing Now!