Sell Yourself Online in an auction as a SMB technology consultant [SMB Consulting Best Practices book excerpt]

Folks – I am the author of the above title and I hold a daily book reading – virtually – by posting up a passage or two. Today I start a multiple day segement on aucitoning yourself online as an SMB consultant! Bidding is now open!

Online auction sites

Crafty professionals have made headlines when they auctioned themselves through eBay. Today, the practice doesn’t necessarily make headlines, but it still occurs. What have you got to lose by putting your SMB consulting services up for bid at an online auction site? Nothing! Figure 4-3 displays the results of a recent keyword search on “Small Business Server.”

Figure 4-3:

Tons of SBS product is sold on eBay but there is a noticeable lack of SMB consulting services being offered. As you read this, consider clicking over and adding your offering to this mix.

Let me dig deeper into the online auction theme. First, the sheer number of clicks at an online auction site such as eBay is impressive (eBay is one of the most popular sites on the Internet). Second, eBay has signaled to the auction community that it seeks to have more high-end auction items and more services as part of its business model. Third, the eBay auction approach

allows you to offer a complete solution for a fixed price. You could package your services with a server machine and the SBS software, with bidding starting at, say, $6,500 US.

BEST PRACTICE: The operative words above were “complete so­lution.” Selling the solution is in alignment with Microsoft’s “Go To Market” mantra being espoused upon its certified partners. I can honestly say that “solution selling” is one of the key success factors employed by SMB consultants in Australia. I’ll mention this several times in the course of this book, but it’s important to know that Australia kicks ass when it comes to SMB consulting. SMB consultants from the land of OZ (an affectionate nickname the land Down under) have reportedly sold as many copies of SBS as the entire US (even though the US is 15 times larger!). This has been accomplished in large part because of solution selling.

Another benefit from online auction selling of your SMB consulting services is that, even though you’ll offer up a fixed bid scenario for your SMB solution (I’m assuming it’s based on SBS), you can deftly cover your variable costs for travel, your dining per diem, and your lodging above and beyond the winning bid price. How? This is accomplished by completing the online auction submission to have “shipping and handling” costs determined post-auction between buyer and seller. Here is how that works. The winning bidder alerts you that they’ve won your SMB consulting services. Let’s say it turns out that the winning bidder lives on the other coast. You obtain an airfare quote for $1,250, lodging is quoted at $850, and you calculate your per diem at $50 per day, with an estimated three-day setup making the total per diem $150. Thus, this example of the “shipping and handling” costs presented to the buyer would be $1,250 + $850 + $150 = $2,250.

BEST PRACTICE: Here again, I inserted operative words that I want to emphasize: “fixed bid.” It’s only been since SBS 2000 that SMB consultants could seriously consider engaging a client and de­ploying SBS under a fixed bid scenario. In the distant past of SBS, in the SBS 4.x time frame, offering SMB consulting services under fixed bid was financial suicide because the product was unstable and not ready for prime time. But those dark days are behind us and you can now engage in fixed bids for SBS.

One more consideration about fixed bid pricing: Because you have the newfound confidence to deploy SBS under a fixed bid sce­nario, you should now consider the fact the the OEM installation of SBS will save an hour or so in the multi-hour SBS setup process. When you’ve locked in your bid price, such savings are now highly desirable to the SMB consulting, eh? And I’m here to say you can pull it off with SBS stability in the modern era.



Harry Brelsford, CEO at SMB Nation (

MBA, MCSE, CNE, CLSE, CNP, MCP, MCT, SBSC (Microsoft Small Business Specialist)

PS – did you know my Windows Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) book is almost here? Yes!




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