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There’s a Reason Assassins Don’t Charge by the Bullet

dollar bullet

Imagine yourself in a situation where you needed to hire an assassin. C’mon it’s not that difficult to imagine, and you’ve probably given it some thought in the past.  It doesn’t matter why; it could be someone that’s wronged you in the past, an ex or someone that you despise.  You’ve weighed the pros and cons and made the decision that you are going to hire the assassin.  You’ve never hired one before and are not really sure how to go about it or what to expect.

You know that it’s essential that you hire someone that will get the job done.  It’s the results that matter and cutting corners to accomplish anything less than your goal is just not an option.  In fact you may actually be a little bit uncomfortable because you really aren’t sure how he gets the job done but you know it gets done.  It’s also important that you trust the assassin and a bonus if you actually like him.

So how might you go about it?

Put out an RFP?  Doubtful. Do a Google search and fill out some online forms and what for someone to get back to you?  Also doubtful.

Ask a few close friends and trusted advisors? That makes sense, particularly if they’ve had a similar need and hired an assassin in the past and were happy with the results. You realize every situation is a bit different and your need isn’t exactly like any other that the assassin has handled but you’re focused on the results.

So let’s assume you ask around and you get referred to one of the best in the business.  Amazing credentials, deep experience in his craft and it seems like he’d be pretty easy to work with.  He’s passionate about what he does and it’s all that he does.  You schedule a meeting to discuss your needs and during the meeting you immediately feel confident in his abilities to get the job done.  You let him know that you’d like to retain him.  When it comes time to discuss his fees he simply looks you in the eye and tells you his fee.  It’s payable in full, upfront and it’s non-negotiable.  The fee is higher than you thought it might be, actually quite a lot higher.  What do you do?

Well if you’re like a lot of potential clients I come across you may do one of the following.  (Just to clarify—I’m a consultant, not an assassin- but who would read an article titled “Consultants Don’t Charge by the Paperclip”)

1)     Shop around and get multiple proposals, mostly from other providers that are not really a “comparable”.

2)     Ask for a very detailed breakdown of all of the components of the engagement and question each one

3)     Mention that there are other alternatives that are less expensive

4)     Attempt to figure out how many hours it will take for someone to complete the task and question the rate based on the input of time you think it will take them to complete it.

5)      Whine, complain or attempt to negotiate based on your limited resources or lack of understanding of what it is you are actually buying.

So how do I handle these obstacles?   First and foremost I let my clients know that there is a reason assassins don’t charge by the bullet.  I charge the fees I charge because I am confident I can achieve their objectives.  I also let them know that when developing a strategy to leverage their intellectual property that we will offer solutions that will be priced based on the value we bring to a client not based on an hourly rate or a day rate.  After all if assassins charged by the bullet as opposed to the result it would be a very crowded field with ample low cost providers but very little results based operators in the market place.

Are you charging by the bullet as opposed to the value you provide?  Take some time to rethink your pricing strategy, you’ll wind up serving a much better client base and free yourself up to achieve the results that matter most.

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Peter Winick has deep expertise in helping those with deep expertise. He is the CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Peter on Twitter!

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Peter,
    Great post! This couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’m currently working on a new project with another business and pricing is always so tricky- thanks for reminding me what’s really important as I determine my pricing strategy. I look forward to reading more.

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