How Do I Sell More Hourly Consultations?

Author: Gab Goldenberg

I want to flip the tables and this time ask you, my dear readers, for some advice. What can I do to sell more one-hour consultations? It’s my favourite service to provide, typically clarifies a lot of stuff for the client and provides them with great value, and it’s quite convenient as far as overhead/organization goes. I’m open to anything, so don’t be intimidated or feel like it’s a “stupid” suggestion or “too obvious.”

Prizes for good suggestions include:

- Dofollow links added to this post, featuring your desired anchor text, as well as a line or two of copy around it. Linking to deep pages is fine too.

- Hourly consultations with yours truly, for the really great suggestions.

First link is to Jeromy, who offers internet business how to tips

I’ve added some in the comments below too, but regardless, check out Jeremy Knauff’s web design company.

Rob Kingston‘s also had some nice tips. Likewise Vinh Nguyen (of Chom Chom Advertising Agency) and Michael G (who sells Greek Apparel ) ‘s conference call/webinar idea. You both win an hour. Willy Franzen, who writes up Entry Level Jobs, knocked me off my socks. There’s another hour won.

My friend Brian Hawkins who blogs 140 characters daily at www.Twitter.com/BrianHawkins and is an affiliate marketing manager for Pingo.com, which provides International calling cards, had the following tips to share by email as to how to go about it.

“Sure your SEO consulting time is worth hundreds of dollars an hour. When I used to sell SEO service, it bugged me that my plumber charges $150 an hour to fix my toilet. Plus he would round up to the next hour, even when he worked an hour and fifteen minutes. Yet I was having a difficult time convincing potential clients that are experienced SEO consultants were worth the same as my plumber.

“However when we tried packaging the SEO services, it created a high perceived value. Which was a lot easier to sell as opposed to the sticker shook of seeing that high hourly fee which can prevent marketing folks from hitting the Paypal button.

“So I’d suggest providing value added services, something that you can’t find online that has real value. Such as:

- A list of action items for the client to walk away with as a training guide

- A special link building list or access to your rolodex to help them network to achieve their online ranking goals.

- Fancy excel sheet to help them get organized.

- An ebook that is filled with real valuable advice vs. those bogus “make money online” re-written ebook articles.

“Try to tailor your pitch to offer a packaged service of advice that really relates to a certain industry or type of solution a customer is looking for answers on. This will customize your hourly consulting call time to be specific to a certain industry or niche advice that they potentially can’t find elsewhere.”

Thanks a bunch Brian!

My friend Keri Morgret of Morgret Web Designs shared the following ideas:

“On Craiglist, I see pleas for SEO/SEM/Website help in the gigs section. They’re often poorly defined (don’t give industry they’re in, how many pages on the site, etc.) and sometimes really don’t know what they’re looking for. This post is an example: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/cpg/1051526983.html. The person is looking for a”programmer who can make our sites the top sites that appear when various industry related searches are done on yahoo and google. ” Nothing is said about anything offsite, keywords, etc.

“I’m wondering if you could pitch some of those people with doing an initial site review and giving them a realistic picture of what their site really needs, the time involved, the skills they should be looking for in a contractor, and a ballpark of what they can expect to pay. It’s not going to work for everyone, there are a lot of posts out there that expect miracles for $15/hour, but Craigslist is a big enough place that there should be some candidates out there for this type of thing.”

Let’s keep the thoughts coming, folks :D.

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Comments

  1. Hi Gabriel, That is an interesting question....and perhaps difficult to answer, or the answer is difficult to work with. My answer is this, the best way to sell more one hour consultations is to "answer" to the exact needs of each individual marketer. If I, as a potential customer, am looking for a service, SEO, I as an individual person/company have specific needs, as would the next guy/gal to come along. If I am on a site looking at the services available to me, I need to easily find the benefits that most appeal to my needs (at the time, this changes too based on where a person is in their business). And I need to find it quick. The average surfer moves around, so needs to be "captured" quickly by a promise of "just what I need". Obviously the challege is how does one present a service in such a way that it meets the needs and provides the benifits to a larger group? Perhaps a survey, with different anticipated needs/benefits built in.....Participation in the survey could be increased by offering a prize. For myself, I think I represent a significant portion of the Internet Marketing Population. I am not a web design, html, php, css guru, but I am pretty darn smart. Another person may be a programing and graphics wiz. While the end result for both of us is the same, we want our site to get more traffic, we each of rather different needs and would need to be consulted (to help our site) differently. You could go over my head very fast in some ways, yet I may be able to keep up in others. The inverse may be true for someone else. So a survey, or pre screening, that offers numerous solutions/benefits that meet the needs of most of us, may be developed and may help you out. What do you think? Does this make sense you think? Cheers and Good Luck!!! Jeromy

    Comment by Jeromy - March 22, 2009 @ 2:33pm
  2. So if I understand you well, I'd need to figure out the needs of my target market - the reasons they'd want to have a consultation. Is that correct? To do this, you suggest surveying visitors. And I'd need to present it as not just for experts in programming or any other particular discipline, but something that can benefit a broad segment of the internet marketing industry. Have I understood you properly? I'm liking the gist of your comment, though I'd perhaps need to refine it a bit. Nice, though :).

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 22, 2009 @ 10:59pm
  3. Hi Gabriel, First, great blog. Love your posts. Ok, onto selling your consulting services - first, if you don't already have one, you need a sales page dedicated to the service. Next, you need a well designed button on every page, probably in the sidebar that takes people directly to that page. Finally, you'll need to make it easy for people to start the process. Give them the ability to purchase your consulting online or call you to purchase. It's important that you give them both options because some may want to get started ASAP while others may want to talk to you before beginning.

    Comment by Jeremy L. Knauff - March 23, 2009 @ 8:51am
  4. I do have a page for the service, but it doesn't get many views, and accordingly makes rather few sales. I think I've tested a sidebar button, but I don't recall it making a difference. I can try again though, perhaps. As to offering folks the ability to call/speak to me before, that sounds like a great idea, which I'll implement later in the week. You made me realize that a more pressing problem, however, is probably the need to get more folks seeing that page. Also, you made a solid comment here. So guys, check out Jeremy's Marketing company

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 23, 2009 @ 12:09pm
  5. Gab, Why don't you offer a bunch of free 1 hour consultations... with a catch. You record the audio and do a screencast along with with it. You show exactly the types of recommendations that you make and exactly how you work. An hour might be too long, but a 5 minute excerpt of a consult would even be pretty good. Copyblogger did something with sales page (it wasn't Brian who did the posts though). Instead of using happy customers as references, why don't you actually show people what they'll be getting? Also, you might want to rethink your pricing scheme. I understand the psychology of it, but $150 for 15 minutes might put people off (even though the goal is to get them to buy an hour for $200). You might want to try some price testing.

    Comment by Willy - March 23, 2009 @ 10:41pm
  6. Great suggestions as usual Willy! I think I owe you a link and another hour haha! Are you down for us recording it and screencasting it?

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 24, 2009 @ 12:56am
  7. Yes. I suppose that is somewhat of the challenge, presenting a service that can appeal to a market that can be in so many stages/levels of Internet Marketing, be it technical ability, business experience, marketing experience, ect. A survey would be a good way to get an idea of the primary needs of the market and the language level best received. Certainly I think there is a huge market that could benefit from your service, but perhaps don't even fully realize the potential benefit to their business. SEO...what? I would imagine most businesses have some idea of SEO, but I bet you a lot don't really understand the potential difference to their business. So how do you reach an audience that is so very diverse? Initially I thought survey, but as I think more on it I wonder if a pre screening type survey could be a way to move visitor to different presentations based on answers to simple questions designed to determine the visitors technical level, marketing experience, general business needs, ect. Sorry, it is sometimes challenging to clearly communicate ones ideas, but I do hope that they are helpful. Regards, Jeromy

    Comment by Jeromy - March 24, 2009 @ 5:09am
  8. Posts like this! I would recommend that you find companies like ours that don't seem to do hourly consulting and just ask them if they do...we may someday but for now we don't and I love referring to people I trust, so say no more, now when I have a prospect that wants hourly I'll let you know.

    Comment by wil reynolds - March 24, 2009 @ 9:35am
  9. To sell more of your hourly consultations you need to: #1: advertise it 2#: Demonstrate the value of it. Advertise: - add a short text at the bottom of every post to let people know you are offering SEO services & 1 hour SEO consultation - have a button with a call to action in your left column that might say "Hire Gab" - Do a 1 hour conference call type for $20 open to first 20 persons (20/20... it's catchy)where everyone can ask questions via chat and you would reply via voice. Then sell your 1 hour one to one. - Adwords campaign Demonstrate the value of it: - testimonials (writen or video) - risk free with money back garantee (you have it already) Now my question to you is: How can I, Vinh Nguyen, sell more 1 hour consultations? It will be much harder for me than for you, Gab :)

    Comment by Vinh Nguyen - March 24, 2009 @ 1:53pm
  10. Gab - I think the biggest thing is to give people an opportunity to see (and more importantly HEAR) what you have to offer. Just after a couple minutes speaking with you on the phone, it was obvious that you don't take the typical approach to link building. I think the webinar format would be useful. Sort of a chat-n-chew held over the lunch hour for people to attend. Ask each person to submit their site and their questions around a specific topic that you choose ahead of time. Tell them to tune in to the webinar and you will select one (or more) of the sites to use an example and how you would improve their situation. Chances are once people see and hear your approach, you will land several accounts. All the best, Michael

    Comment by Michael - March 24, 2009 @ 4:18pm
  11. Giving it broad appeal is going to be a challenge, but that's a good idea. I don't have the resources to educate a broad market about SEO though, and I disagree that will be helpful to make sales. I need to widen the bottom of the funnel, where people already know what it is and want it, not the beginning of the buying cycle/top of the funnel. A sort of needs-assessment filter tool would be valuable though, to score leads.

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 24, 2009 @ 4:50pm
  12. Awesome dude. Thanks a bunch!

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 24, 2009 @ 4:51pm
  13. Vinh, I'm not sure it's the prominence of this on the page that is a problem. I had a prominent link in the sidebar above the fold, and it hardly got clicked. Also, I've been considering AdWords, but the traffic cost would probably make this unprofitable unless my conversion rate were already very high, which it isn't. The conference call is interesting and I think I'll try that, but not at $20 - that devalues the service. Check out Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely for more on that.

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 24, 2009 @ 4:58pm
  14. The webinar format, as I just responded to Vinh, is something I'm really liking and would like to try out. I need to figure out what technology it requires, so I've just put that on my todo list for now. Besides that, thanks a lot for the kind words!

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 24, 2009 @ 5:11pm
  15. Gabriel, I noticed a few people suggested giving away free or discounted consulting...I disagree with that in every way imaginable. It will lower the perceived value of your services and will attract the wrong kind of client. Some people may take this the wrong way, but you don't want to tie yourself up with clients that are only willing to pay $20-$30 for your services. No matter how good the advice you give them is, most of them don't have the mindset to utilize it and your efforts will be wasted. On top of all that, it will take time away from finding the type of client that can grow with you, so you'll actually be moving backwards. Value, not price, should be the determining factor.

    Comment by Jeremy L. Knauff - March 24, 2009 @ 5:28pm
  16. $20 is cheap. It's the "foot in the door technique". $20 * 20 = $400 That would be the cost of your 1 hour time. If people understand the value of your services, $200/hr one-one-on personalized coaching would be cheaper than 1 hour of your webinar.

    Comment by Vinh Nguyen - March 24, 2009 @ 5:30pm
  17. $20 is cheap - but it's not the foot in the door technique. Upselling would be selling something else for less, then selling the hourly consultations. Anyways, while I appreciate the suggestion, it is not something I'm going to test. My time is worth more than $20 an hour, and this set-up doesn't communicate that clearly enough, even if in the aggregate I'd be earning more than $200/hour.

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 24, 2009 @ 7:16pm
  18. Very well stated, and I agree entirely. Thanks for looking out for my best interests, Jeremy :).

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 24, 2009 @ 7:17pm
  19. $20 isn't that cheap - especially not when converting from USD to AUD! :P

    Comment by Rob Kingston - March 24, 2009 @ 11:41pm
  20. Getting back onto the whole consultation thing, I reckon you would have a bit more success by providing something tangible along with it. For instance, I believe that 1hr of chatting has little tangible value that I can base my purchase on - hence I wouldn't be able to pay for plain consulting. One of my clients also told me once that just providing the advice isn't enough - he wanted me to project manage and get my suggestions live on his site. This goes to show that consumers find services difficult to evaluate in terms of value provided, but providing something tangible really helps demonstrate their value. So here are a few things you might like to do to spruce it up, if you will: 1. Provide a transcription and audio recording of the hour - very cheap and easy to do. 2. Put together a brief action plan for the client, along with how they can implement your advice. 3. Create an image and free audio (as suggested above) of what clients get in your 1 hr interview. 4. Provide access to a free whitepaper you have written on some related topic. That should help provide some good value. As for the webinar - sounds good to me. If you can fit Australian time in, you've got a listener.

    Comment by Rob Kingston - March 24, 2009 @ 11:56pm
  21. adding to point three, you should provide a demo on your site with a decent landing page.

    Comment by Rob Kingston - March 24, 2009 @ 11:58pm
  22. True that Gabriel, it does make more sense to focus on those that know what they want. Perhaps an JV side to have others 'train' and direct prospective customers further into the funnel. Certainly a means to determine the specific needs of the target audience would be a great resource. Best of Luck, Jeromy

    Comment by Jeromy - March 25, 2009 @ 1:12am
  23. I like the point about takeaways and getting people to take action on the advice. For the rest, it's something I need to implement with software, and have on my todo list as per above. Thanks a bunch Rob!

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 25, 2009 @ 1:35am
  24. Funny how we think alike. I actually came up with an idea of this nature last night. If I should have success implementing these ideas and others in the redesign, I'll be looking at creating something similar to what you've described.

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 25, 2009 @ 6:35pm
  25. Thank Gab for the opportunity you are giving with this post. It shows how humble you are and also how all the people who contributed are humble too. There is another way to generate more buzz about your hourly consultation: Give a X dollars rebate for all past or new clients who have made a review of your service on their blogs (with links to your page). Win-Win - I' ll do that with my free hourly consultation with you (though the rebate won't be needed)

    Comment by Vinh Nguyen - March 25, 2009 @ 7:16pm
  26. That's potentially something I would look at, though not necessarily for cash. I'd have to think about how to do it in a transparent way...

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 25, 2009 @ 10:00pm
  27. Capitalizing on Rob Kingston advice to offer something tangible, you can set up a "screening" questionaire for your prospect clients. You would have a form where the prospect will submit his/her questions (may be ten max). You would then let the prospect know what questions you will be able to cover during your 1 hour consultation. After that it is up to the client to decide if he/she wants to order. I am insisting on the Foot-in-the-door technique (= a compliance tactic that involves getting a person to agree to a large request by first setting them up by having that person agree to a modest request.)

    Comment by Vinh Nguyen - March 27, 2009 @ 5:18pm
  28. That makes a lot of sense to me, actually :). What about folks with just a question or two, or who come up with more off the cuff?

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 27, 2009 @ 6:34pm
  29. With the screening, you would be able to know build a custom agenda for 1 hour frame. You might want to use some verbage to state the agenda is flexible etc. I think the propect client would appreciate to know what he can get for his money. On your side, you can collect data about what SEO services people are looking for.

    Comment by Vinh Nguyen - March 27, 2009 @ 7:01pm
  30. Hi Gabriel, I recently came across your blog and have been spent the last hour or so reading numerous posts. Thanks for your insight. I know I am a little late on answering this post but here is one way I get more consultations. I post on Craigslist in my local area. Generally I send them to a squeeze page (test and tweak to see what works best for you) that offers them a free report on the marketing mistakes that small businesses make. In order to receive the report they must provide me with their name and email address. I then (via autoresponder messages) send them information every day for 5 days and always include the offer of a free half hour consultation. This is just enough time for me to go over their site with them and show them the things that need to be changed or added. I of course prepare myself before hand so that I have plenty of "what needs to be done" but no "how to do it." They will of course want to know how to get it done. This is classic internet marketing at it's best. Give them the what but make them pay for the how. I hope that helps. Rick

    Comment by Rick Mann - July 20, 2009 @ 8:37am
  31. Hey Rick, That sounds pretty interesting actually. I'm glad to hear you found so many things to read on my site, and invite you to add my feed to your reader so you can stay current with them! I may just have to look into this technique :). Cheers Gab

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - July 20, 2009 @ 3:26pm
  32. Cool! Hey Gabriel. I was reviewing my links and such and found this post in my inbound links. I had forgotten all about this :-) lol I trust things are going well, I am gonna refresh now and check out the survey.

    Comment by Jeromy - December 10, 2009 @ 1:49am
  33. We have paid for a few one hour consultation with various self-proclaimed gurus in the past, and while I don't doubt your credentials, what we have received in the past didn't amount to much. Perhaps if there was a better outline of what the one hour consultation could include would be helpful. We're always looking for ways to stay on top of our SEO efforts. And equally important is that we are looking for ways to leverage SEO contacts and systems into a service that we can offer our client base.

    Comment by Gene Krause - July 10, 2012 @ 10:18pm
  34. Thanks for the answer on that Gene - interesting idea! I need to update the sidebar since this post is a bit old, but it's interesting to find these old comments and see all the great advice I was given...

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - July 11, 2012 @ 1:52pm

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