You Ask, I Answer: When To Start Charging?

Brittany asks, “At what point do you stop doing work for someone and how do you tell them, sorry… love to, but I charge for that?!?!”

This is a question that every consultant has had to answer at some point in their careers. There are some bad actors out there who will absolutely take advantage of you without hesitation; even regular employees face this in things like job interviews. There’s a two-part answer – watch the video for more.

  • Determine what you’re selling – the why, the what, or the how
  • Withhold the key pieces of the part you sell most/best – that’s your secret sauce, arcane knowledge relatively few people have
  • Let someone try it and as long as they’re not better than you, they’ll fail – and then they come back if they’re honest, and they don’t if they’re dishonest

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s episode Brittany asks, at what point do you stop doing work for someone as part of the sales process? Or the pitching process or even job seeking? And how do you tell them? Sorry, I’d love to do this, but I charge for that.

This is a question that every consultant has had to answer at some point in their careers, usually fairly early on.

There are sad to say there are some bad actors out there who will absolutely take advantage of you.

Without hesitation or scruples, they see you as free free labor and your from their perspective if you are foolish enough to do the work for them and they feel entitled to it.

Even regular employees face this.

I have seen some egregious abuses of people in job interviews Where a company will open a job rec have a really really intensive exam in which they basically take all your ideas, and then they don’t hire anybody.

And we of course, in the consulting world see this all the time is agencies.

Agencies get pitch requests that are just outlandish.

Other Stories in the news recently about one company that said give us your, your our five year plan as part of the pitch and a bunch of other things.

So it is tricky.

Now there is there is a two part answer to this.

There’s there’s two ways to Well, there’s a way to deal with this that can help.

First, you have to determine what is you are selling Are you selling there’s three things you could be selling right there’s the why the what and the how.

Most of like for example, the the strategy consulting firms, the big shops like Accenture and Deloitte and stuff that They’re in many cases selling the why right? They’re there they’re brought in because of their bespoke reputation that brand to sell the Y on something like digital transformation.

There’s nothing fancy like that.

Most folks are selling a combination of the what and the how and is the what is the result and the How is how do you get to the result? For example, my company Trust Insights, we sell a lot of both and an even balance.

We talked about this digital customer journey mapping Episode What what it is, and then our secret sauce way of selling how.

So your first step is to figure out what it is that you’re selling.

If you’re talking about something like Google Analytics, the why in the world is largely solved.

It’s the how.

Second, you have to withhold the key pieces of the part that you sell the most that you sell the best.

What is your secret sauce, the arcane knowledge that relatively few people Have that makes you different, right? Because if you withhold that, here’s what happens if you would hold that secret piece of information, but you you tell somebody where it is they’re going, it’s like telling somebody where they’re going, but not giving them directions on how to get there.

And if your knowledge is specialized enough, what will happen is they will go and try it, right? They may go, she may go and try it.

And then they realize, I don’t know how to do this.

And they’ll fall down.

That’s when they realize, Oh, I should have hired Brittany.

You know, and they and the honest folks will come back they’ll say, Hey, you know, I loved your input.

Last time I tried it didn’t work.

What am I doing wrong? Right.

The dishonest people don’t come back and you don’t want them to.

So practical example.

Out of the box.

There are some customizations that Everybody has to do to Google Analytics in order to make it work really well is one in particular, like your social media channels out of the box of Google Analytics just flat out wrong and they stay wrong.

You have to know the specific set of tweaks you need to make in order to make it correct so that you can give proper credit to your social media efforts.

Now, if you know how to do that, if you know that little secret, that’s actually not little secrets a long one.

You can then say to somebody, hey, Google Analytics is the best system for doing your social media attribution, you need to do customization to it to make it work, right.

I just told you the why and the what, I haven’t told you the how, and you may you may go and tinker with it and then say I, I still can’t figure out how to fix the problem of Facebook being counted as referral traffic.

Right, as long as as long as the person you’re interacting with as long as their knowledge is less than yours.

On Google Analytics, they won’t be able to do it.

There’s an expression from Tom Clancy, the author Tom Clancy, do the canary trap, you intentionally either withhold something which is what I do, or you give out something that’s intentionally wrong.

different things to different people to see who breaks or who copies your content even.

You can tell telltale signs that somebody is not being honest with you up front.

So that’s how I would approach that is determine what you’re selling the why the what the how, and then determine the key pieces of information that you can withhold.

That still doesn’t diminish your expertise or your value in that person’s mind.

And that will identify who is who’s trying to take advantage of you versus who said, you know, maybe had a legitimate will go and give it a go and then oh, You can’t do that.

And then they come back and hire you.

And at that point, you know, they tried and at that point, you might even be able to charge more.

Because they made it their best effort.

And now they know how hard it is to do what it is that you’re selling.

So, give that a shot is been a very successful formula for me over the years.

And hopefully it succeeds to you.

As always, please leave your comments below.

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