Back in 2010 I ran my first ever seminars under my own brand. It was a weekend event called “Practice Explosion” (which later developed into The Six Figure Blueprint) and I flew from the UK where I was living to Toronto and Montreal to run it. A few weeks before the workshops I got a call from a consultant who was thinking of attending.
“I’m sick of doing associate work,” she told me. “I want to stop doing it and get my own clients.”
Now, I knew that I would teach her how to raise her profile and attract her own clients. But I also believe that as long as you are attracting your own clients, associate work – consulting where another company hires you to do work for one of their clients under their brand – can be a very useful source of income. Even now I have a number of companies that bring me in to work with their clients. So I did some more probing.
The problem this consultant had wasn’t that she hated doing associate work. It was that she hated doing associate work and getting paid BADLY for it. There’s a big difference between doing associate work and getting $300 or more an hour, and doing associate work and getting $300 a DAY (which is pretty much what she was getting).
She had a range of companies that she had been working for over a number of years. They liked her and – apart from the rates – she liked them
The solution was pretty clear in those terms: ask for more.
Now, it might have been as simple as going back to the companies she was working for and asking for a better rate. After all, she hated what she was doing, so if they turned round and said no then she was off the hook. OK it’s not that simple, but there is a way to have that conversation that will get you the result you want.
Another way to approach it might have been to change what she was doing for the companies that hired her. She had a good relationship with the companies she worked for, so there’s a good chance that she could have introduced her own intellectual property and charged more for delivering that.
One of the first things I teach you when we work together is to package what you do up into a proprietary system (or methodology, blueprint, whatever you want to call it) and brand it as your own. It is a critical step in differentiating yourself in a commoditised marketplace – which most professional services are! It’s a critical chapter in my book “Premium! How Experts Just Like You Are Charging Premium rates For What They Know, And You Can Too!”
Of course, the best approach would have been to take that new intellectual property and then go and get associate work delivering it on behalf of new clients who paid more. Getting new clients is not easy, but the irony is it’s much easier to get a new client at a premium rate when you are well differentiated than it is to get new clients at a commodity rate when you are just another commodity.
Let me say that more bluntly:
It is easier to get clients at $300 an hour when you stand out in your market
than to get clients at $300 a day when you don’t.
And here was the real core of the consultant’s problem.
She didn’t stand out, and she was hoping that changing her whole business model – abandoning relationships that were working and bringing her paid work – was going to fix that
She was trying to solve the wrong problem.
The problem wasn’t with her clients.
the problem wasn’t with “associate work” in general.
It was her lack of any kind of differentiation in her market.
So I explained that in the workshop I was going to show her how to stand out, create a strong market position, and use it to attract new, higher-paying clients.
Did she come?
Sadly no. And for all I know she is still doing the same work for the same clients for the same $300 a day.
All because I wanted to help her solve the real problem, not the ‘easy’ problem.
So what’s really stopping you from charging premium rates?