Starting a Consultancy: Should I Charge for Phone Calls?

Channel Partners panel

CHANNEL PARTNERS EVOLUTION — Solution providers who want to rebrand into a consultancy need to take a hard look at their resources and clients.

“I think the biggest thing that we wanted is knowing a lot about your partner – as much as you can – and finding out early if they’re willing to spend money,” said Shane Stark, director of vendor relations at Carrier Access. “If you’re going to lose, you definitely want to lose early and get out of there and not spend a bunch of time trying to keep chasing and chasing and chasing.”

In a concurrent education session at Channel Partners Evolution on Monday, Stark discussed the pros and cons of moving to a consultancy. Joining him were David DeCamillis, vice president of sales and marketing at Platte River Networks, and Atrion Senior Vice President Paul Cronin.

The three agreed that one of the biggest changes switching to consultancy brings to companies and their sales teams is beginning to charge clients for phone conversations.

DeCamillis said “there are are no cons” to charging, as it helps to weed out uncommitted clients and establish you as the “trusted adviser.”{ad}

“If you go to your doctor, a surgeon, a medical expert, you’re expecting them to charge you for the test and to figure out what’s wrong with you and get their advice. Well, the same thing applies to technology and telecom. To give that away, it’s a disservice. It devalues your product and your services.”

And he said requiring clients to invest monetarily in a phone call actually increases sales long term and makes the client more “sticky.”

DeCamillis said the process of adding a consultancy practice begins with examining your engineers and their skills and interests. He said it’s also important to form relationships with vendors that can help fund training and certifications.

Cronin said one must listen to the “voice of the client,” which, as he put it, is in a confusing position right now with all of the increased complexity of technology.

[Our client] didn’t have these buyers going around them, and they weren’t in such a hot spot. I think that complexity allowed us to step up, and it also meant we had to get better at what we did. Consulting without preparation, consulting without packaged solutions and the right people to provide the right value becomes what I consider one of the cons,” he said.

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