by Peter Meyer
(This is a posting in response to a question about ever exceeding $100k per year in billings. It lays out the process in brief.)
To help bill more than $100k, let me lay out a roadmap that works for me and for my friends. Given space needs (this is part of a full day workshop,) I will summarize a lot but the idea is really pretty simple. The answer for fees is really in step 4.
Step One is cold calls.......... whether from referrals or a list.
Step Two is the introductory call.
Where most of us spend this call talking about us, I would suggest that you give a short description of you and get quickly to the problem that your prospective client needs resolved.
This is the only thing that really matters. My problem is unimportant, his or her problem is paramount. His or her most important problem is paramount above all.
(I have gotten so dogmatic at this that I almost never talk about me (unlike this post). If the prospective customer wants to "just shop" I thank him/her for the time and explain that I am in real demand for urgent problems. (No lie for you, true?) I ask him or her to call when something starts to keep them up at night.)
Step Three is to survey the stakeholders.
You, as an outsider, talk to the key people in the operation to get a view of the problem from several sides. This is a key step. The whole picture leads to the whole solution.
Step Four is a design session.
You want buy in from the stakeholders so that the work actually results in solution, not just a nice binder. In the session you show the stakeholders what you found in the survey, and how you define the problem. You ask for group acceptance of this or you go no further. (This is rarely a problem.) These become the success criteria for the project.
Now, we are all focused on solutions and not on costs and fees. This is the key to billing according to value, not local fee structures.
With that focus, you lay out a few possible solutions, complete with total costs. This is a stalking horse!! You should expect and encourage all your solutions to be torn apart and reconstructed in the meeting. The idea is to jointly find the best path to the success criteria **you** agreed on. The costs are total costs to the organization, not just $. Time is more important to most managers, so I **would suggest that you** focus there.
At the end of the design session, you have defined the severity of the issue, the need for solution, the success criteria, and a plan to solve it. The fees are a small part of the discussion. In the past year to two I have only once been asked to explain them. They are insignificant compared to the value of resolving the problem.
Step Five is to document the meeting. .........This is the proposal.
Step Six is to get a contract both of you like.
If you have done a good job at identifying the most important problem and showing a path to resolution, you will have to fight to not bypass this step. Your client will not want to slow down for papers.
Step Seven is to do the work, and follow up.
I hope this has not been too lengthy If you want more, please let us know. It works. It has helped people double billings. It can certainly help you bill more than $100k.
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