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  1. #1
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    Prospects that don't turn into consulting clients
    I've recently had a surprising number of merchants who call me, claiming that they want to hire me for consulting work -- and then I spend an hour or so discussing their needs by telephone, and then another hour or three preparing a detailed proposal -- and then they never follow up.

    I've always been aware that I "give away" too much time to callers whom I know will never become clients, but my wife pointed out that I seem to be spending more time lately "pitching" to prospective clients than doing work. She thinks these are folks who are just fishing for free advice, and that I need to stop spending so much time talking with them and preparing proposals that they may just use as blueprints for someone else to do the work.

    I can't really figure out what's changed lately. I don't offer any different mix of services than in the past (though I plan to do so), and I haven't changed my rates.

    These are all people who call me, seeking advice; we talk for a while, and I give them a clear sense of the kind of work I do (and what I don't do), and what I charge -- and they all say great, let's get this going, send me a proposal. (I'm not counting the folks that I "screen out" because I don't do ongoing OPM work or SEO work, or because they use CJ, or because I don't do "affiliate-side consulting".)

    But after I send the proposal, they just never follow through. Sometimes, after ignoring one or two of my follow-up emails, they'll reply that they've decided to delay hiring me, or occasionally they've hired someone else. But the real issue are those who just seem to vanish.

    I guess I need to pay attention to this now, because I notice that I've had zero consulting income since the first week of December (when I received payment for earlier work). And, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I abandoned my most successful single affiliate-role project after deciding not work with Kowabunga or Performics, which meant that our traditional "Christmas income" mostly evaporated. At the same time, my largest remaining merchant made site changes that pushed conversion rates down by 50%, then more changes that dropped it further -- forcing me to abandon previously-successful PPC work.

    In short, money is suddenly tight and my pipeline seems dry.

    I guess I need to re-think the way I handle calls from "prospects" (so I waste less time on the phone with non-clients), and I also need to re-think the kind of proposals I send out, and how I follow up. And I need to follow through on a couple of specific services I want to offer as "short projects" for inexperienced merchants. And I think I need to consider certain types of projects that I've previously rejected. And I think I'll call a few of these "prospects" and ask them if there was any specific reason they chose not to hire me (or to hire someone else).
    Last edited by markwelch; January 25th, 2008 at 09:22 PM.

  2. #2
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    I can totally identify! As a self-employed web designer, investment-system consultant (the old job), and affiliate marketer on the side, I've had the same problem. I've spent far too much time with prospects who just seem to be fishing...

    Recently I even had a client give a website add-on job (my idea) to another developer, then send me an email asking for my opinion on how to handle implementation.

    I've started to weed them out a bit better - I don't give out too much over the phone anymore, and simply confirm that I have the expertise (point them to my websites, it's proof enough). Proposals are short & concise, and never contain info that can be used by someone else (lots of comments like "will address problems faced", etc).

    I've also implemented an online "sign-up" process in order to continue discussions with them (to convert them from prospect to client) - a small retainer, paid online, and acceptance of terms & conditions (basic agreement, nothing fancy). I tell them it's a "requirement", even though it's just my own

    The time-wasters take up a lot less of my time now...

  3. #3
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    Well, it is not my part of the business so I am no expert on how to gain new clients.

    Since there are others here who do what you do (both ABW members and the "guests"), they might have overflow clients that they might offer to you.

    It always seems like it is either too busy or dead. Rarely are there comfortable moments in the consulting/affiliate/IT/marketing industries.

    Hopefully your post here will help you gain some clients that others can't put their full efforts into because they are too busy. I wish you the best.

    sfcom


  4. #4
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Mark, I do consulting in 2 areas that are not associated with affiliate marketing. I never "give" a proposal to a potential client. I charge for my initial consultation whether it's by phone or in person and I bill for the time to prepare a proposal. If they become a client within 90 days of the initial contact then I credit their initial expenditures toward ongoing consulting. If they decide to go elsewhere or delay the consultation then I've already been compensated for my time.

    This helps me weed out those that are seriously looking for immediate help and those that are just testing the waters.

    -rematt
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  5. #5
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    I too have a business unrelated to affiliate marketing and I always charge a consulting fee or a proposal fee. This fee is deducted from the final bill if the client signs on within 30 days. (Depending on the job I sometimes offer credit for up to 90 days.) The fee is less than what I would get for a normal hour's work but it does pay my bills.
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  6. #6
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    Mark I have the feeling they are calling all the am's listed on the boards and then not hire anyone after all they get a lot of free advice. I had a program call me and when I told them I dont do opm I recomemmend a few people and there resonse was "we already talked to all of them".

    I got the feeling they were never planning on hiring anyone in the first place.
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  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    Mark,

    It could be that you need to try the route of the plumbers, electricians and other trades who charge a minimum base fee "trip charge" and then apply it if the customer has them do the work. Similar to what a couple have suggested here.

    Of course, with the growing number of "consultants" competing for clients in every aspect of online marketing, uniqueness becomes a factor. i.e.: What makes you stand out in the growing crowd? Why are you better at what you do than someone else? What do you provide in benefit that is a step above others? What (if any) performance assurances, warranty etc do you provide? How many client references (if any) do you provide to prospects? (a prospect may be viewed as someone who has paid the minimal retainer)

    If you do a basic client consultation by phone (the pitch part of your service) and then require a deposit to complete an initial "review & proposal" - you will spend your time more productively. From what you have said though, this can be a bit of a chicken and egg proposition.

    From what you are saying, consulting revenue has disappeared and so you need new business. That factor considered, the urge to offer it all upfront is tempting. On the other hand, you resent when someone absorbs all the free information and then goes elsewhere. As a past practicing attorney I assume you charged a consultation fee / retainer after a basic introduction and applied it accordingly. Same can apply here.

    If you can show prospective clients other clients for whom you have produced actual money in their pocket benefit, and then require a basic review fee, you should be able to weed out the tire kickers and focus your time on more serious candidates.
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  8. #8
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    Business referred by satisfied clients is golden.

    Cold calls can waste your time.

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  9. #9
    Affiliate Manager PetsWarehouse.com's Avatar
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    You need to manage your time.

    When someone calls ask them to set a specfic time to have a tel conference, say I can talk to you about the project at 2:00 I have a 15 minute window to discuss the broad strokes at that time.

    Now when into the call you have an easy way to cut the call to that time frame and NOT get MARRIED to a long winded prospect.

    Charging for a consultation is a big turn off, the prospect doesn't know what you're all about etc. The analogy of calling a tradesman plumber etc is off point.

    Mark not for nothing but going to your link (which IMO needs an update in style and dated material) it's hard to tell what kind of work you're really looking for.

    Can you simply state what you're interested in doing?


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  10. #10
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    For those of you in the consulting business like me I can tell you that this is just part of the business. You can control it to a point, but part of the expense of your business is giving away some of your time for free. I've been doing it for 10 years.

    I just did one this past wee. I sent them a proposal two days ago and have not heard a peep out of them. In this particular situation I am pretty sure it is sticker shock. It cannot be that they can do the work themselves. It is software and hardware consulting, and they are in the medical business. They told me the story of how they had some cheap part-time people doing this before me, and they were ready to pay serious prices. Well unless I hear back soon I'll know they were not that serious.

    When this happens what is your follow up plan? Do you call them and offer to go cheaper for less services? One of the things I have found out that happens occasionally is that people will not pay $5000 for x y z. But if you give them smaller numbers they end up paying the same amount just broken down i.e. $2000 for x, $1500 for y and $1500 for z.

    Also: If you are interested in any tools I recommend the free SugarCRM to track your pipeline and prospects. I just redid our company website and the 'Contact Us' page just feeds them into the database as 'Leads'.
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  11. #11
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=PetsWarehouse.com The analogy of calling a tradesman plumber etc is off point. [/QUOTE]


    You may have gotten hung up on semantics / taken the analogy literally. The point I offer you Mark is that AFTER you spend a short time (the complimentary portion) explaining your services / building value & credibility, based on the clients degree of interest, it is then a good time to offer an introductory review/proposal and attach a minimal fee to the review. The initial brief phone consultation is on a no charge basis. Past that, a review and proposal with a minimal fee that can be applied to further services will filter / qualify the prospective client. I used it for over 25 years in my business and marketing endeavors very successfully, so call me Plumber!!! ;-)
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  12. #12
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    First, thanks for the feedback. I've heard most of it before, but it always helps to have it pounded in.

    I've identified "unpaid phone consultations" as the absolute number-one problem to address, and I've set some specific rules: a 15-minute limit on prospect phone calls, with a required "initial consultation fee" for more time, without exception. That one change should free up at least 50 hours per month.

  13. #13
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    I think in a soft economy a lot of individuals and companies are brainstorming ways to make more money. Affiliate marketing has been getting some interesting publicity on different shows and in print, so there are probably a lot of people trying to figure out just what it is and how to use it. When they call you they probably don't have a clue as to what they really want.

    I'm bracing for a new wave of competition as the economy worses and unemployment goes up.

  14. #14
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    Prospects that Never Become Clients....
    Quote Originally Posted by Aunt Lily
    ~ There are probably a lot of people trying to figure out just what it is and how to use it. When they call you they probably don't have a clue as to what they really want.
    .
    Lily

    I have No clue about consulting. As a customer though, I often do not answer ads be cause frankly, they suck. They do not speak to me about what some one can do or has the phrase that tells me that he does the specific task I am trying to accomplish. Like, any body can be a plumber, Right ? Most can fix a drain under the sink. But can Mark Jack Hammer concrete and fix the Drain under my house ? ! ~ It goes underneath my Olympic sized swimming pool.

    Hence, I waste a lot of time with guys like Mark who DO NOT necessarily have the perfect ad and then when I do see an ad that DOES catch my eye {Usually just barely though} and do manage to call, I get either the brush off, the cold shoulder or "We'll address your problems" without a clear understanding of weather or not that is the right service for me. Many uncaring and unscrupulous people do that just to take your money and then when you complain, they tell you to leave let you that they don't give a F*** now go away.

    Is it any wonder I wont call them back ?

    In no way am I saying that Mark is a scum bag, That is not the point. And This is America, EVERYONE deserves to get PAID. I feel for mark in deed. I spent 21 years working for free. But there has to be a balance.

    Try asking Me what it is I am trying to accomplish. Say things like "I'm the wrong guy for that" or "Oh Yeah !, I can do that. ~ I can Easily do that." OR "That's pretty Simple to do." Instead of treating me like "You got money? ~ then I'll talk to you."

    You will likely read this and think it is way off base, but actually think it over.I might not know about being a consultant, but I sure know about being a customer. A customer of guys just like Mark.

    Thats my

    Hope you'll think it over

    Steve
    Last edited by Steve Williams; January 27th, 2008 at 10:34 AM. Reason: I mis spelled :dukie:

  15. #15
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveWilliams
    I have No clue about consulting. As a customer though, I often do not answer ads be cause frankly, they suck. They do not speak to me about what some one can do or has the phrase that tells me that he does the specific task I am trying to accomplish. Like, any body can be a plumber, Right ? Most can fix a drain under the sink. But can Mark Jack Hammer concrete and fix the Drain under my house ? ! ~ It goes underneath my Olympic sized swimming pool.
    Consulting isn't exactly like other tangible services like those that a plumber can provide and consulting clients are not "the typical consumer". A consultant spends a great deal of time getting a feel for their clients needs, goals and issues that can be a barrier to achieving those goals. We spend a great deal of time understanding our clients business and providing viable solutions that help our clients achieve their goals.

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveWilliams
    You will likely read this and think it is way off base, but actually think it over. I might not know about being a consultant, but I sure know about being a customer. A customer of guys just like Mark.
    You're right. Completely off base. It's unfortunate that you took the plumber analogy out of context, but I'll try to clarify.

    Mark's dilemma arises from "potential clients" that are really just trying to get free consulting. I can't imagine how that would work with plumbing, their skill at implementing the solution is really what you're paying for.

    Consulting projects start the moment a potential client starts expressing the needs of their organization. Often, a considerable amount of time is spent understanding the clients organization and the barriers to improvement. While this information is essential to the consultant in preparing a detailed proposal or Statement of Work, there can be a lot of hours involved that may never result in a contract with the client for a number of reasons.

    Quite often a detailed proposal is also a blueprint that the "potential client" believes they can use to fashion their own solution (usually unsuccessfully).

    Sometimes the potential client is just trying to get a feel for the cost of a project for budgetary reasons. This is understandable, but you also have to understand that a detailed proposal can involve dozens of hours to research and prepare. If a consultant is writing part of the clients budget, then they should be compensated for their time and effort.

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveWilliams
    Hence, I waste a lot of time with guys like Mark who DO NOT necessarily have the perfect ad and then when I do see an ad that DOES catch my eye {Usually just barely though} and do manage to call, I get either the brush off, the cold shoulder or "We'll address your problems" without a clear understanding of weather or not that is the right service for me. Many uncaring and unscrupulous people do that just to take your money and then when you complain, they tell you to leave let you that they don't give a F*** now go away.
    There are good and bad consultants just like there are good and bad plumbers. However, a consultant is usually contracted partly on reputation and the ability to produce tangible results. Frankly anyone that clicks on an ad for a consultant is asking for trouble or simply looking for free advice.

    Mark is well known in the industry and has a web site that explains his capabilities and the services that he can provide, so I doubt that there is much confusion about whether he is a good fit for a specific project. But just like any other business arrangement, the client should do their homework before contacting any consultant.

    Consultants provide solutions to client issues and deserve to be paid for their time, not used to provide free solutions.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador PatrickAllmond's Avatar
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    "Consultants provide solutions to client issues and deserve to be paid for their time, not used to provide free solutions."

    I'll concur with this. But I'd like to chime in and say that free time is always given away as part of the gig. And when figuring your expenses you need to factor that in there. If you cost $100/hr and you give 15m of free consulting then your company just spent $25 on advertising and marketing.
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  17. #17
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    I have no problem with 15 minutes of free time. However a potential client isn't going to get anything of real value in 15 minutes either. I should also point out that in my particular case, I don't solicit new clients. I consult in two very specific niches and I have a handful of clients that I work with on an annual basis and I'm not really looking to expand on that. Any potential new clients are refereed to me by a mutual business partner or existing client. In a number of cases the business partner themselves foot the bill for my consulting and they are well aware of my capabilities and requirements. And they have no expectation that I will provide any free time.

    -rematt
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  18. #18
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveWilliams
    Lily

    I have No clue about consulting. As a customer though, I often do not answer ads be cause frankly, they suck. They do not speak to me about what some one can do or has the phrase that tells me that he does the specific task I am trying to accomplish. Like, any body can be a plumber, Right ? Most can fix a drain under the sink. But can Mark Jack Hammer concrete and fix the Drain under my house ? ! ~ It goes underneath my Olympic sized swimming pool.

    Hence, I waste a lot of time with guys like Mark who DO NOT necessarily have the perfect ad and then when I do see an ad that DOES catch my eye {Usually just barely though} and do manage to call, I get either the brush off, the cold shoulder or "We'll address your problems" without a clear understanding of weather or not that is the right service for me. Many uncaring and unscrupulous people do that just to take your money and then when you complain, they tell you to leave let you that they don't give a F*** now go away.

    Is it any wonder I wont call them back ?

    In no way am I saying that Mark is a scum bag, That is not the point. And This is America, EVERYONE deserves to get PAID. I feel for mark in deed. I spent 21 years working for free. But there has to be a balance.

    Try asking Me what it is I am trying to accomplish. Say things like "I'm the wrong guy for that" or "Oh Yeah !, I can do that. ~ I can Easily do that." OR "That's pretty Simple to do." Instead of treating me like "You got money? ~ then I'll talk to you."

    You will likely read this and think it is way off base, but actually think it over.I might not know about being a consultant, but I sure know about being a customer. A customer of guys just like Mark.

    Thats my

    Hope you'll think it over

    Steve
    I have to admit, Steve...I have a hard time making it through that post. You don't know about being a customer of guys like Mark unless you have used consultant services before. The world of b2b solutions is much different then the typical consumer to business model.

    Rematt, once again has voiced a great insight here. As a "newbie", I would suggest going back and reading his posts, as he is becoming one of my favorite posters at ABW. Just the facts...just the facts. He does a good job sticking to that.

    Anyway, I think it is rude to infer that because others don't have "the perfect ad" that Mark automatically goes into that group too. I just don't understand why you said this when it is clear that it is not even a service you are familiar with.

    Respect these people and they will respect your opinions also. Do you know how many "hours" of pro-bono work Mark has put into ABW? Enough to earn respect that's for sure.

    I don't agree with Mark all of the time, but I surely wouldn't say he deserves to not be implicated to be giving "cold brush offs" and "take your money...now go the F*** away." I think your entire post could have been a bit better worded, especially when you consider your audience.

    -sfcom


  19. #19
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    sfcom brings up an excellent point about b2b vs consumer needs. I am a consultant myself, after years of working for a large investment company. While I may have just graduated from "newbie" status in the affiliate world, this is something I know very well

    A great many small businesses may not expect something for nothing, but that doesn't stop them from trying. A larger company who hires a consultant understands the way the relationship works - they expect to pay for your time. And yes, fishing goes on all the time. Some companies like to "keep it in-house", build up their own expertise.. they just look to you to be "put on the right path" to figure it out themselves.

    The quality of "advertising" is irrelevant in the consulting world. You are known for what you bring to the table.. a short proposal (whether free or retainer) is expected. And many prospects will indeed try to pick your brain without spending a dime.

    In my case, I had a prospect who contacted me via one of my client's websites. They didn't "sign up", kept hemming & hawing, tried to negotiate price down, stalled, then finally said I was too expensive (which was ridiculous, I quoted a VERY low price). A total waste of time... all the while asking me LOTS of questions.

    If I didn't have the "sign-up" requirement in place, which weeded them out, I could've spent hours on the phone, answering their emails, etc.

    I learned the hard way to weed out the prospects just fishing. And this is what this post is about.. how to identify them, decrease time spent on them, and perhaps find a way to convert prospects into clients without scaring them off (ie. asking for fees up-front, before delivering a service).

    My own experience has also taught me to hold back a little in proposals. Don't offer solutions up-front.. or give them anything to use, either in-house or with another consultant.

    Someone with a good reputation will also attract those just looking for free advice, and Mark, it sounds like this could be your problem. Implement a small retainer, and I think the time-wasters will disappear.

  20. #20
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    SteveWilliams wrote (in part): > Try asking Me what it is I am trying to accomplish. Say things like "I'm the wrong guy for that" or "Oh Yeah !, I can do that. ~ I can Easily do that." OR "That's pretty Simple to do." Instead of treating me like "You got money? ~ then I'll talk to you." <

    Actually, that's exactly what I do. I say "I'm the wrong guy for that" far more often than not. I often tell people that although I could do the work they need, they can probably get it done just as well for much lower cost by someone else. I can't think of any times I've said something is "easy" or "simple" in this industry, but I've often told prospective clients that they have unreasonable expectations, or inadequate resources for their goals.

    The first thing I usually ask callers is what product or service they want help selling (or what their revenue model is). Lately, I think someone put me on a list of consultants to call for help in promoting dubious MLM programs, because I get at least two or three calls per week from people who've flushed thousands of dollars on some MLM scheme with absurd expectations. But those calls aren't a big problem, because I start by asking what they want help selling, and these folks talk about "building downlines" and "tiers" and I quickly burst their bubbles.

  21. #21
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    The Plumber And The Consultant...
    Rematt

    I thought you did a great job with your comments. They were well thought out and I esp. liked the way you went about it. I tried to answer each however I cannot be sure that they are all clear.

    BTW: I read your posts quite a bit. Often end to end....




    Quote Originally Posted by rematt
    Consulting isn't exactly like other tangible services like those that a plumber can provide and consulting clients are not "the typical consumer". A consultant spends a great deal of time getting a feel for their clients needs, goals and issues that can be a barrier to achieving those goals. We spend a great deal of time understanding our clients business and providing viable solutions that help our clients achieve their goals.

    You're right. Completely off base. It's unfortunate that you took the plumber analogy out of context, but I'll try to clarify.

    Mark's dilemma arises from "potential clients" that are really just trying to get free consulting. I can't imagine how that would work with plumbing, their skill at implementing the solution is really what you're paying for.
    Regardless what you are paying for, how else does one get an idea if it is a good fit ? I'm sorry that you missed the point. Plumber is a euphanism. To that end Right on Target. I just some how knew it would not necessarily be fully understood. In any case, this requires time on the phone. Very good point though.
    Consulting projects start the moment a potential client starts expressing the needs of their organization. Often, a considerable amount of time is spent understanding the clients organization and the barriers to improvement. While this information is essential to the consultant in preparing a detailed proposal or Statement of Work, there can be a lot of hours involved that may never result in a contract with the client for a number of reasons.
    Agreed. I often spend a considerable amount of time explaining things to people who are trying to fashion something that they often have the tools for and often have never seen before. I know damn well that these guys are qualified. ~ there are other barriers not related to money that must be sorted out. Hence the entire point of my comment.
    Quite often a detailed proposal is also a blueprint that the "potential client" believes they can use to fashion their own solution (usually unsuccessfully).
    I have read many of these posts again and again. I think many good points here were made. I think Mark DOES Have a real dilemma on his hands. There are many fools in the world. then again, can you spend that time discussing that stuff one the phone w/o giving it away, and letting the perspective client know your strengths ?? Weaknesses ?
    Sometimes the potential client is just trying to get a feel for the cost of a project for budgetary reasons. This is understandable, but you also have to understand that a detailed proposal can involve dozens of hours to research and prepare. If a consultant is writing part of the clients budget, then they should be compensated for their time and effort.
    Writing an hours long proposal is far different than talking w/ a potential client and letting him know more about the services offered and the client telling the service what the basic goals are. Again, many will not do this much..... Somthing to consider in the balance.
    There are good and bad consultants just like there are good and bad plumbers. However, a consultant is usually contracted partly on reputation and the ability to produce tangible results. Frankly anyone that clicks on an ad for a consultant is asking for trouble or simply looking for free advice.
    That would work if you know every one in your area. Something that is not always possible. I rarely ever know those I help or hire.....This might not apply to every one. {You have great ideas....}
    Mark is well known in the industry and has a web site that explains his capabilities and the services that he can provide, so I doubt that there is much confusion about whether he is a good fit for a specific project. But just like any other business arrangement, the client should do their homework before contacting any consultant.
    Mark has a nice web site, I actually spent a lot of time looking at and I gathered that mark is well versed in his field. BTW: I have no hesitation w/ hiring Mark. Please be aware that not all services I hire are well known to me so A little time talking to me about what the guys capabilites/ willingness to do is often very helpful. I can certainly appreciate your desire to defend guys such as Mark, However this in no way is meant as an attack. Again there must be a balance. Again everyone deserves to get paid.
    Doing homework {I think} = Know some body. I have hired a lot of professionals in my life, 99 % I've never met. That continues to this day. That is not always possible, hence, that is the point of the call {Great comment BTW. I liked it a lot.}
    Consultants provide solutions to client issues and deserve to be paid for their time, not used to provide free solutions.

    -rematt
    Agreed. Though not every person that call has an idea if you have/ offer this service or that. Hence my comments that this is america, everyone deserves to get paid and there must be a balance {between those who are free loaders and those who need a better understanding of the services offered}.

    In noway is this a lack of respect for any one, brother. Not at all.

  22. #22
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    Mark Welch...
    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch

    The first thing I usually ask callers is what product or service they want help selling (or what their revenue model is). Lately, I think someone put me on a list of consultants to call for help in promoting dubious MLM programs, because I get at least two or three calls per week from people who've flushed thousands of dollars on some MLM scheme with absurd expectations. But those calls aren't a big problem, because I start by asking what they want help selling, and these folks talk about "building downlines" and "tiers" and I quickly burst their bubbles.
    BTW: This is in no way personal Mark. This is strictly about sharing ideas ect.

    I spent a lot of time on your web site bro, and I would hire you in a second. I hope this all translates.

    Great thread guys !!

    Steve

  23. #23
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    Consulting the consultants...
    Quote Originally Posted by sfcom
    I have to admit, Steve...I have a hard time making it through that post. {A} You don't know about being a customer of guys like Mark unless you have used consultant services before. {B}The world of b2b solutions is much different then the typical consumer to business model.
    I'm sorry that you did have a tough time. {A} Absolutely false. Many people I field for work require I spend a great deal of time describing my goals as well as them telling me weather their services are a good fit....

    {B} The only Consumer to biz I do is at the grocery store. You are correct. Hiring seasoned pro's is quite different.
    Rematt, once again has voiced a great insight here. As a "newbie", I would suggest going back and reading his posts, as he is becoming one of my favorite posters at ABW. Just the facts...just the facts. He does a good job sticking to that.
    I have read Marks posts many Times over. Many people will not have this benefit. In most industries, Forums do not exist. That is a fact.

    Also, "Newb" on ABW in no way means That I have never been in business or that I'm too stupid to comment/ offer professional insight here. In that regard, I have much to offer.
    Anyway, I think it is rude to infer that because others don't have "the perfect ad" that Mark automatically goes into that group too. I just don't understand why you said this when it is clear that it is not even a service you are familiar with.
    HUH ? Marks ad Has nothing to do with this. Mark is not in any ''Group" bro. It's quite OK that you did not understand it ~ no biggie.

    BTW: Offering professional insight is NEVER EVER rude. :wink: These are a series of thoughts, it is NOT about any given individual. I'm sorry you missed that. Cool that you defended him though. Very cool.

    Respect these people and they will respect your opinions also. Do you know how many "hours" of pro-bono work Mark has put into ABW? Enough to earn respect that's for sure.
    On the contrary. Perhaps your comment is reactionary ? Hmmm.... I'm simply not sure here. This in no way has anything to do w/ respect or the time he has put in to ABW.... I can say that not every perspective client is going to have the benefit of reading a few thousand posts, and certainly, most industries I have ever dealt w/ does not even have a forum. So I guess maybe I'm thinking in a broader sense. You have made some very good points though.
    {a} I don't agree with Mark all of the time, but I surely wouldn't say he deserves to not be implicated to be giving "cold brush offs" and "take your money...now go the F*** away." {B} I think your entire post could have been a bit better worded, especially when you consider your audience.

    -sfcom
    {A} Hmmm... I'm going to try to guess this is a grammatical error here. ~ If that is the case, then I whole heartedly agree that No one is being implicated.

    {B} Thank You dude. I liked this comment best of all. We all must share. That is what makes ABW so great !


    Thanks a Million sfcom !!

    Steve
    Last edited by Steve Williams; January 27th, 2008 at 04:39 PM. Reason: Forgot a sentance. I edit my posts sometimes for weeks.

  24. #24
    The Seal of Aproval rematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveWilliams
    Regardless what you are paying for, how else does one get an idea if it is a good fit ? I'm sorry that you missed the point. Plumber is a euphanism. To that end Right on Target. I just some how knew it would not necessarily be fully understood. In any case, this requires time on the phone. Very good point though.
    No, I didn't miss your point, I just thought that it wasn't a very good comparison. Contracting a consultant CAN be an iffy business. Most experienced consultants should be able to provide references and examples of their work without giving away too much. Spending hours with a client to understand their needs is what I do as part of my engagement. The fact that I bill the client for this in part keeps them honest and weeds out the tire kickers. In my particular case, what I do is very specialized and as I said in a previous post, I don't solicit clients. They typically find me through a recommendation. In two cases they were forced to hire me to avoid heavy penalties and in other cases the situation is forced by a mutual business partner that refuses to work with that client until after I've been engaged.

    Regardless of the circumstances, my knowledge is what I have that is valuable. If I have to give away a little to get a project I might if I feel it's worth my time. However, like Mark, I refuse many more projects than I take on, in those instances the client is only responsible for my actual expenses (airfare, hotel, meals etc.). I never tell a client that upfront though. As far as they're concerned they are also paying for my time whether I take the project or not. Potential clients also know upfront that if I don't see a good fit I won't take the project.

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveWilliams
    Writing an hours long proposal is far different than talking w/ a potential client and letting him know more about the services offered and the client telling the service what the basic goals are. Again, many will not do this much..... Somthing to consider in the balance.
    Again, in my case, before the client dials the phone they are very aware of the services that I provide. Without sounding arrogant, because of the nature of the services I provide, I already know what the clients basic goals are, probably better than they do. My job becomes understanding their organization to a point that I can fashion a solution for them to help them reach those goals.

    Because of the nature of the consulting I provide, during an initial conversation with a potential client I am very careful that they understand how invasive my process is and the type of cooperation I typically need from high in their organization.

    There really isn't a lot that I can offer a client over the phone oher than that. I typically must spend hours if not days reviewing a potential clients organization before I even know if I can provide a solution. The client receives an assessment at the end of this period which they expect to pay for.

    I do think that we've gotten way off topic here. This was Mark's post about a situation that he finds frustrating and we've turned this into Consulting 101.

    Mark, sorry for the detour.

    -rematt
    "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." - Richard Nixon

  25. #25
    Best New ABW Member 2007 sfcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rematt
    I do think that we've gotten way off topic here. This was Mark's post about a situation that he finds frustrating and we've turned this into Consulting 101.

    Mark, sorry for the detour.

    -rematt
    Sorry also Mark. I've restrained myself from posting a rebuttal to Mr. Steve.

    Did see the updates on your homepage though. If you want a service, you are going to have to pay for it. Nice and clear. It should definitely help keep away some of the leeches.

    -sfcom


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