What Others Say About SMB Technology Consulting Bill Rates!

Hello there – I am Harrybbbb, the author 0f the SMB Consulting Best Practices book. I like to post up a passage every so often to host a virtual book reading. Good for me; good for you!

Today’s passage relates to what others are saying about SMB technology consulting bill rates – with a twist. First – I post directly form the book. Second – I have a few recent references for you to consider as you ponder this very important topic of SMB technology consulting bill rates.

Media analysis

Kiplinger’s December 2002 article profiling GeekSquad and others revealed some interesting pricing information. GeekSquad charges a flat rate that is quoted in advance based on the description of the work to be performed. The lowest flat rate for any visit is $149 (this is the minimum fee). Geeks on Call franchises charge between $60 to $65 for the service call plus $15 to $20 per quarter hour for on-site work performed. Alison Stevenson, the article’s author, found that sole proprietors charge $30 to $50 per hour for their technology consulting services. Granted, the Kiplinger’s article spoke more towards break-fix technician services rather than true SMB consulting services, but the figures provide an interesting checkpoint to take under advisement.

A truly great article on TechRepublic (www.techrepublic.com) titled “Free Advice: How much is too much?” by Meredith Little (April 2002) surfaces the important discussion about the length of the SMB sales cycle and its implications on pricing. You’ll recall I compared the SMB sales cycle to the enterprise sales cycle earlier in the book. But Meredith takes an interesting twist on it, suggesting SMBers might have a tendency to give away too much free advice. You might find yourself falling into this trap because you’re a nice person or you’re just trying to be communicative or you don’t like to make pesky quarter-hour billable time entries for e-mails and telephone calls. But in all likelihood, it’s because you’ve not developed the core

competencies to close a client sooner rather than later and starting billing for your time. Consider Meredith’s article to be required reading.

BEST PRACTICE: Until you consummate the consulting engage­ment transaction and have a signed engagement letter, you’re working for free. You’re likely using the sales cycle to give away valuable advice. And worst of all, you’re devaluing your services and effectively lowering your price. This is not a good thing.

Closing a client sooner rather than later implicitly maintains your bill rate. This is a good thing.

Now – let’s look at some more current conversations.

Steven Atkinson at Technology Tips for SMBs posted up this thoughtful “thought” about SMB technology consultnig bill rates!

Kathleen Goolsby at OutsoucringInformationTechnology.com touches upon this issue of SMb technology consulting bill rates  in a piece on Solving SMBs’ Communications Challenges!

So there you have it!

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cheers….harrybbbb

Harry Brelsford, CEO at SMB Nation

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

PS – my Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) book is now here! J

PPS – my spring show, SMB Nation Spring 2009, is in the NYC-area on May 1-3, 2009.

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