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Business Development

Clarify Confusing Pricing

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In this case we sold and delivered a $12,000 human resources audit which uncovered issues the corporation needed to fix. Then we proposed placing Eleanor, a CareerLab consultant, inside the client company. The corporate client was confused by our pricing.

He thought we planned to charge $244,000 for the coming year. I sent him a brief e-mail to explain. We won the business and Eleanor worked in-house at these rates for more than a year. The first e-mail below is from the client, the second is my reply.

From: Nelson  Jowers [mailto:n.jowers@att.net]
Sent: August 16, 20-- 10:20 AM
To: wsfrank@careerlab.com
Subject: Proposal

Thanks so much for your thoughts this morning.  We think you are right on.

I'm sorry but I'm confused on the proposal for Eleanor's working in house.  You suggested that this is a $125,000/ yr. type of position, which I agree with. $125,000/12mo=$10,416/mo for full time.  Shouldn't the part time (20hr/wk) be closer to $5,000-6,000/mo
$125,000/2080hrs=$60/hr. 2080hr./12mo=173hrs/2 (i.e.20hrs/wk)=87hrs/mo@$60/hr=$5,220/mo

At $12,000/month for half time, this is a $244,000/yr. reimbursement. 

Please clarify.


We didn't mean to confuse you with fees and pricing.

The rate we are suggesting, $12,000/month, is the same fee you paid for the audit, for a similar effort.  (Eleanor's usual rate for the same work is $15,000, so we have applied a discount.)

Although Eleanor will be on site 20 hours per week, she will probably work many more hours than 20. This kind of engagement doesn't stop when you walk out the door. We live with it.

We are proposing a three-month engagement ($36,000), during which we re-evaluate your needs and priorities. It could be that after two months we are ready to recruit your full-time Director of Human Resources.

We did not intend that you should pay us $244,000 per year. Let's keep talking until we find something that works for everyone.



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William S. Frank, M.A.,
25 Reasons I love consulting.
by William S. Frank
  1. Brand. You are your own brand, and you can define it any way you want. For many years, I provided outplacement to the ex-employees of Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield service corporation. When departing employees left the company, they didn't request outplacement in their severance package. They said, "I want Bill Frank."
  2. Demand. The world will always be full of terrible problems that need solving.
  3. White Hat. I can be a helper and get paid for it.
  4. Pay. I can be paid to do things I'd gladly do for nothing.
  5. Variety. Every day is different.
  6. Happiness. At this stage of my career, I only work for people I respect and care about. If a client micromanages me or is otherwise no fun, I complete the assignment and replace them.
  7. Talent. I'm using 110% of my talents and stretching myself to the max.
  8. Change. I can change my focus any day I want. If you're a McDonald's franchisee, you don't say, "Hey, I've got this great idea for a meatball sandwich—let's try it out today." In consulting you can adjust your focus hour-by-hour, as long as your clients still understand and appreciate what you do.
  9. Income. No one else would pay me as much as I pay myself.
  10. FUN. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.
  11. Retirement. I can write and consult as long as I am physically and mentally capable. Peter Drucker worked into his 90s, and when asked which book was his best, he said: "My next one."
  12. Job Security. Although clients come and go, no one can come into my office and say, "Pack up your stuff . . . You don't work here anymore." In 29 years, I've only had one employer: ME.
  13. Travel. I don't have to travel unless I decide to. I travel if it's both FUN and profitable—or at least FUN.
  14. Commute. I live five minutes from my office, a corner office in an upscale six-story tower. In winter, I leave a heated garage at home and drive to an underground heated garage at work. There's seldom time to hear even one song on the radio.
  15. Vacation. Consulting is more fun than vacation (except on Wailea Beach in Maui).
  16. Friends. I have developed hundreds of close acquaintances and several lifetime friends.
  17. Time. I can work as much or as little as I like: four-hour days or 18-hour days. (Of course, my income will reflect that.)
  18. Employees. I can work with employees, subcontractors, partners, or alone—I've done it all.
  19. Passive Income. I've developed several products that provide "mailbox money." I earn while I'm sleeping.
  20. Ethics. I've never had to violate my values or personal code of ethics. I've never had to lie, purposely deceive or harm others, or promise things I can't deliver. I go to bed with a clear conscience. That doesn't mean there's never any conflict. But the conflict is conducted according to generally accepted business practices.
  21. Virtual. My career is fairly portable. With the Internet, e-mail, cell phone, and FedEx, I can work nationally, even internationally from my office—or anywhere in the world.
  22. Purpose. I make a difference in peoples' lives every day. I see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, and read it in their thank-yous.
  23. Experience. Every painful or joyful life experience makes me a better consultant. So does every person I meet or book I read. Grey hair can be good in consulting.
  24. Structure. I have to work very hard, and the clients expect superb results—but I get to structure my days, weeks, months, and years.
  25. Boss. Most of the time, I love my boss.
As I was posting these letters online, I realized I want to communicate my love for consulting. It's just a great business. The single letters, taken together, may create a picture of enjoyment, but in a burst of creativity I listed some of the reasons consulting is such a good fit for me—and perhaps for you, too. They are not prioritized; this is just how they came out.