Consulting Fees – You Get What You Ask For

You’ve probably heard the saying ‘You get what you pay for’ but had you thought about its corollary: ‘You get what you ask for’? When you ask for your fees are you asking for what you really want-and I am not talking just about the money?

I know a business analyst who was being contracted out at $65 per hour when the market was paying other people of his caliber (if they could find them) $150-$200 per hour. He wasn’t especially motivated by money because he was content with what he had; his problem was that the work simply was not challenging enough. In his business, you don’t get the best projects to work on if you are only charging $65 an hour.

He eventually solved his dilemma with just one short conversation. He told his client he was not happy with the rate they were paying him, ‘Come back with something more competitive.’ They did-twice his current rate and an infinitely more interesting project.

In another example, a friend was telling me about her partner who loved the type of work he did, but resigned from his job out of desperation because of the internal politics in the office. For a while, Gavin got seriously glum as he considered other options before being wooed back to his original employer as a consultant. Though he was doing the same work, he was on a six-month contract, at an hourly rate that was twice his previous salary. When that contract expired, it was renewed at almost double the rate again! My friend was laughing as she told me how Gavin was a changed man. The job was the same, and the politics remained; the only difference was that he was now being paid more than a hundred and fifty dollars an hour.

According to my friend, it was because Gavin was paid more that he felt more valued, which raised his self-esteem. External events changed his internal experience. Other people might work in reverse: they may need to raise their self-esteem first before they are able to receive more money.

If you are a contractor does your fee schedule reflect your abilities and skills? Ask yourself: Do your prices place you in the market for the type of client and work that you want to do?