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Unpaid Consulting: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

There are two sides to every coin. What are the pros and the cons of unpaid consulting? - by Thomas
Working for nothing. Hmmmmmmm Hard to figure... That would be a downside I'd think. Pro's, not many unless....

The consulting is done within the sales process, then I see nothing but benefits unless he doesn't buy something from you after all of that.... but depending on conditions, you most likely have deferred or future benefits.

If you've done your job right, and even if for free, as his situations change in the future, you've already established yoursef as an advisor who is familiar with his business. I doubt the competition would even get a phone call or an acknowledgement should they come a knocking on his door.... provided you have done your job right...

Aloha... :cool: - by rattus58
There are two sides to every coin. What are the pros and the cons of unpaid consulting?
I don't look at this question as dealing with a prospect, but rather the free exchange of your services and information, that you could possibly be charging for.

Well, to each his own, but I know I can not take my knowledge gained to the grave with me, for then it would be as if it had never existed in the first place.

Additionally, I discovered at an early age, when I completed the first 2 semesters worth of computer programming classes prior to the first semester being done. I was then hired as a tutor for a student who was deaf and mute. I had to loo at each and every question, from her perplexed point of view.

In the long run, I feel that I gained at least as much as her, from having that tutoring position. So, i carry that example around in my pocket each day now.

The more I give, the more that I get back in return.

Actually, I have even sought out certain various competitors in the contracting field, who were adequate tradesmen, but totally lacking of any business sense at all. You see, for me to allow them to think beyond their perceptive belief of what the "Going Rate" was for their services, I allowed them to build up their pricing structure, so that there was not such a chasm like spread between each companies competitive bids for similar projects.

By doing so, the entire area, at least in some instances, were all allowed to make a more substantial and fair profit, instead of pricing for financial destruction and failure.

Ed - by Ed The Roofer
Working for nothing. Hmmmmmmm Hard to figure... That would be a downside I'd think. Pro's, not many unless....

The consulting is done within the sales process, then I see nothing but benefits unless he doesn't buy something from you after all of that.... but depending on conditions, you most likely have deferred or future benefits.

If you've done your job right, and even if for free, as his situations change in the future, you've already established yoursef as an advisor who is familiar with his business. I doubt the competition would even get a phone call or an acknowledgement should they come a knocking on his door.... provided you have done your job right...

Aloha... :cool:
So when he calls you back next year to 'bid' or inquire about services again, he can turn you into an 'unpaid consultant again'; and you are all the happier to do it, still 'hoping' he will choose you.

He did not use you the last time; probably got the services he needed from someone else, using your pricing, quote, knowledge to leverage a better deal somewhere else.

Sounds like going to "Unpaid Consultant College". - by Paulette Halpern
I've had opportunity during my lifetime to have proposed a full blown financial plan for someone only to have them buy a piece of it, or nothing at all and two or three years later have them call us, sometimes for things unrelated to the original plan.

I had these things blow up when someone got into an accident before a plan could be implemented.. no sale... I've had a divorce mess up my plans. I've had seeral opportunities to go back and potentially spin my wheels too... but that is an easy thing to deal with and with the case of garden owner here, when we went back, I asked him if anything really had changed in his priorities over the last two years and is he ready to move forward with the plan, and the answer was "yes"... let's get it going.

When I was young and a foolish lad
The number of tries would make you sad
I'd plan and plan and fall on my face
Till I finally learned to give them space

Fool me once, shame on you
Fool me twice, blame me too
Yes it happens, maintain your vigil
Go for the gold and not the drivel

Or something like that.... shds; ;bg - by rattus58
I don't look at this question as dealing with a prospect, but rather the free exchange of your services and information, that you could possibly be charging for.

Well, to each his own, but I know I can not take my knowledge gained to the grave with me, for then it would be as if it had never existed in the first place.

Additionally, I discovered at an early age, when I completed the first 2 semesters worth of computer programming classes prior to the first semester being done. I was then hired as a tutor for a student who was deaf and mute. I had to loo at each and every question, from her perplexed point of view.

In the long run, I feel that I gained at least as much as her, from having that tutoring position. So, i carry that example around in my pocket each day now.

The more I give, the more that I get back in return.

Actually, I have even sought out certain various competitors in the contracting field, who were adequate tradesmen, but totally lacking of any business sense at all. You see, for me to allow them to think beyond their perceptive belief of what the "Going Rate" was for their services, I allowed them to build up their pricing structure, so that there was not such a chasm like spread between each companies competitive bids for similar projects.

By doing so, the entire area, at least in some instances, were all allowed to make a more substantial and fair profit, instead of pricing for financial destruction and failure.

Ed
I agree with you completely Ed! Good Stuff! - by MPrince
I agree with you completely Ed! Good Stuff!
Thank you.

I do really firmly believe in those principles and attempt to live each day with them in mind.

I once started a thread on a large contractors forum, titled, "Mentoring Your Competition", and the reaction was all over the board.

I think that the responses revealed quite a bit about the character traits of many posters, although I am not enough of an authority to place myself in judgment of them.

Helping others can really be a great benefit in the networking aspect. I do occasionally get referrals from competitors I have never even met, just because of the well intentioned method of operating my business. It does come back to you, in the form of gratitude or other rewards.

Ed - by Ed The Roofer
Thank you.

I do really firmly believe in those principles and attempt to live each day with them in mind.

I once started a thread on a large contractors forum, titled, "Mentoring Your Competition", and the reaction was all over the board.

I think that the responses revealed quite a bit about the character traits of many posters, although I am not enough of an authority to place myself in judgment of them.

Helping others can really be a great benefit in the networking aspect. I do occasionally get referrals from competitors I have never even met, just because of the well intentioned method of operating my business. It does come back to you, in the form of gratitude or other rewards.

Ed
I think it was Zig Zigular who said, 'you get what you want if you help enough people get what they want'. I believe that. It just comes back to you in ways you can't explain. President Reagan said, there is no limit to have far a man can go or, what he can achieve if he doesn't care who get's the credit'.

So I do agree with you I have seen it happen in my career over and over.

Warmest Regards - by MPrince
There have been some great replies about the upside of unpaid consulting. Does anyone have thoughts on the downside of unpaid consulting? - by Thomas
There have been some great replies about the upside of unpaid consulting. Does anyone have thoughts on the downside of unpaid consulting?
Unwarily giving away too much private or hard earned, School Of Knocks ideas too easily, either to someone you are trying to help, or providing too much free advise, so that a lesser learned competitor can come in and say they will do the same thing.

Ed - by Ed The Roofer
Unwarily giving away too much private or hard earned, School Of Knocks ideas too easily, either to someone you are trying to help, or providing too much free advise, so that a lesser learned competitor can come in and say they will do the same thing.

Ed

Yes, I'm afraid this is a price you might have to pay sometimes so, you must make a decision and that decision is; do I help people that ask for it or do I lock all my "School of Hard Knocks knowledge" up because I am afraid someone might take advantage? If I allow that to happen then the one bad apple is stealing not only from the ones I may be able to assist but, they are also stealing my chances of getting what I want for helping. I choose not to be afraid of that. I have found the goodwill far outweighs the bad.

Warmest Regards - by MPrince
Yes, I'm afraid this is a price you might have to pay sometimes so, you must make a decision and that decision is; do I help people that ask for it or do I lock all my "School of Hard Knocks knowledge" up because I am afraid someone might take advantage? If I allow that to happen then the one bad apple is stealing not only from the ones I may be able to assist but, they are also stealing my chances of getting what I want for helping. I choose not to be afraid of that. I have found the goodwill far outweighs the bad.

Warmest Regards
I agree with yer summation there Martha.... thmbp2; - by rattus58
I agree with yer summation there Martha.... thmbp2;
Thanks you Tim! - by MPrince
Thanks you Tim!
No problems Mary.... :) ;bg - by rattus58
Yes, I'm afraid this is a price you might have to pay sometimes so, you must make a decision and that decision is; do I help people that ask for it or do I lock all my "School of Hard Knocks knowledge" up because I am afraid someone might take advantage? If I allow that to happen then the one bad apple is stealing not only from the ones I may be able to assist but, they are also stealing my chances of getting what I want for helping. I choose not to be afraid of that. I have found the goodwill far outweighs the bad.

Warmest Regards
Martha,

Good observation and keenly stated, as well.

I just wanted to provide the possible Cons, although my personal opinion on the matter is that I attempt to be an open book in the truest form of willingness to aide and assist, because I do realize that it will come back in one form or another, even if it is onl the warm fuzzy that I may receive, but that is it's own reward for knowingly doing what I feel is the right thing to do.

Ed - by Ed The Roofer
Some might say that unpaid consulting is all-too-common trap and that a real pro would never make the mistake of becoming an unpaid consultant. - by Thomas
Never mind... :) - by rattus58
I think it's important to acknowledge the context of the term, "unpaid consulting" as it has been popularly coined among salespeople. Certainly we are not in the unpaid consultant business because it doesn't take much to figure out that that is NO business at all.

SO, let's call a spade a spade. What's being discussed here is doing an amount of work to make a sale, which involves sharing information among other things, and not getting paid because we DON'T make the sale.

Salespeople SELL. That's what we are supposed to DO. Some people sell more than others. Some people enjoy a higher conversion rate than others. Generally those people have developed a better set of skills than those who sell less. If one wants to talk about "unpaid consulting" as a result of not getting a sale, that's fine although I don't think it will add to one's bank account. To me it seems wiser to sharpen your sales skills to the point where the term won't come to mind because you're too busy "wetting your pen" which is a much more favorable expression to coin.

Who was it..Tom Hopkins?...who said "If I don't make a sale, it's my fault." If a sale is there to be made, and I don't make it, I think he was right. That's my two cents out of my aforementioned bank account. - by Ace Coldiron
I think it's important to acknowledge the context of the term, "unpaid consulting" as it has been popularly coined among salespeople. Certainly we are not in the unpaid consultant business because it doesn't take much to figure out that that is NO business at all.

SO, let's call a spade a spade. What's being discussed here is doing an amount of work to make a sale, which involves sharing information among other things, and not getting paid because we DON'T make the sale.

Salespeople SELL. That's what we are supposed to DO. Some people sell more than others. Some people enjoy a higher conversion rate than others. Generally those people have developed a better set of skills than those who sell less. If one wants to talk about "unpaid consulting" as a result of not getting a sale, that's fine although I don't think it will add to one's bank account. To me it seems wiser to sharpen your sales skills to the point where the term won't come to mind because you're too busy "wetting your pen" which is a much more favorable expression to coin.

Who was it..Tom Hopkins?...who said "If I don't make a sale, it's my fault." If a sale is there to be made, and I don't make it, I think he was right. That's my two cents out of my aforementioned bank account.
Ace...some would call this "Unpaid Consulting". Did you get paid for this piece of advice above? - by MPrince
I think it's important to acknowledge the context of the term, "unpaid consulting" as it has been popularly coined among salespeople. Certainly we are not in the unpaid consultant business because it doesn't take much to figure out that that is NO business at all.

SO, let's call a spade a spade. What's being discussed here is doing an amount of work to make a sale, which involves sharing information among other things, and not getting paid because we DON'T make the sale.

Salespeople SELL. That's what we are supposed to DO. Some people sell more than others. Some people enjoy a higher conversion rate than others. Generally those people have developed a better set of skills than those who sell less. If one wants to talk about "unpaid consulting" as a result of not getting a sale, that's fine although I don't think it will add to one's bank account. To me it seems wiser to sharpen your sales skills to the point where the term won't come to mind because you're too busy "wetting your pen" which is a much more favorable expression to coin.

Who was it..Tom Hopkins?...who said "If I don't make a sale, it's my fault." If a sale is there to be made, and I don't make it, I think he was right. That's my two cents out of my aforementioned bank account.
Some might say that unpaid consulting is all-too-common trap and that a real pro would never make the mistake of becoming an unpaid consultant.
Thomas...what about all the threads you have started on this forum...did you get paid for all the advice you have given? - by MPrince
Unpaid consulting in real estate is common in the form of calling an agent out to the home on the premise of a possible listing when in reality the Seller's motive was to have the agent tell them what the home was worth. - by Houston
Ace...some would call this "Unpaid Consulting". Did you get paid for this piece of advice above?
Not sure if you're joshing. Again--it's a context thing. In my life I've done my share of unpaid consulting for good causes, or those that I thought were. Different context than the way the term is being used here I think. I'm not here to make sales. I make them elsewhere - by Ace Coldiron
Not sure if you're joshing. Again--it's a context thing. In my life I've done my share of unpaid consulting for good causes, or those that I thought were. Different context than the way the term is being used here I think. I'm not here to make sales. I make them elsewhere
If you think I meant to give away advice instead of making sales then you totally misunderstood the concept of what I was saying. If I did that I would certainly go hungry and so would the four kids I raised alone and put through college. I am even now raising an autistic grandson so...I don't go around working for free. I can't afford to do that. I can however afford to give a struggling sales person advice or offer up recommendations or, knowledge that I have learned over the years so another young mother might not have to struggle the way I did. That young mother might even be my competition.

Warmest Regards - by MPrince
Ace...some would call this "Unpaid Consulting". Did you get paid for this piece of advice above?
Martha, there was no way I could understand your question. Of course I don't get paid for posting here any more than you do.

A good friend coaches me on the finer points of sailing--unpaid. That same friend recently lost his job due to downsizing. I'm doing everything I can to open some doors for him--unpaid. I have a close personal relationship with a professional headhunter who I have brought into the loop on this. She stands to get paid. BUT--if my friend the sailor takes guidance and professional help from my friend the headhunter, and hits paydirt elsewhere, my friend the headhunter would have done unpaid consulting IN THE CONTEXT of how the term is normally referred to in selling discussions, NAMELY the act of sharing time, experience, and counsel during a sales process and having the prospect not reward your efforts by buying from you.

I thought quite honestly that that was the context of the use of the term in this discussion. If you thought it was about sharing information on this forum, then we are not discussing the same thing. - by Ace Coldiron
In the realm of instructing, of which I've done 40 years worth not related to selling, one thing I have discovered about opening the floodgates of information to a student... well maybe not floodgates, but teaching your student to be better than you.

The more you enhance a student's knowledge, the more rounded and educated you yourself become. Your reward multiplies in proportion to the success of your charge. The more you have to teach, the better you get. The harder they make it for you, the smarter you become... or at least the wiser.

In a sense, unpaid consulting will add to your strength and wisdom.. and part of that wisdom, is to know when to "pick your fights", or maybe "know when to hold em and know when to fold em". We all have motivations when we help anyone, and if our expectations become unfullfilled, we have to analyze why that was/is.

I suspect we all suffer Altruistic tendancy as sales people. I'm pretty much convinced of it because of the unselfish nature most sales people exhibit because of the honest desire to "help" people. Helping out struggling sales neophytes betters all of us, in MY OPINION.

Aloha... Tom :cool: - by rattus58
Your friend coaching you unpaid and you paying it forward is what I was talking about and yes I was joshing about you getting paid to give advice on the forum.:) That is the problem often with e-mail you can't tell what the true meaning is.

Warmest Regards - by MPrince
In the realm of instructing, of which I've done 40 years worth not related to selling, one thing I have discovered about opening the floodgates of information to a student... well maybe not floodgates, but teaching your student to be better than you.

The more you enhance a student's knowledge, the more rounded and educated you yourself become. Your reward multiplies in proportion to the success of your charge. The more you have to teach, the better you get. The harder they make it for you, the smarter you become... or at least the wiser.

In a sense, unpaid consulting will add to your strength and wisdom.. and part of that wisdom, is to know when to "pick your fights", or maybe "know when to hold em and know when to fold em". We all have motivations when we help anyone, and if our expectations become unfullfilled, we have to analyze why that was/is.

I suspect we all suffer Altruistic tendancy as sales people. I'm pretty much convinced of it because of the unselfish nature most sales people exhibit because of the honest desire to "help" people. Helping out struggling sales neophytes betters all of us, in MY OPINION.

Aloha... Tom :cool:

I could not have said it better myself. Tim! - by MPrince
Your friend coaching you unpaid and you paying it forward is what I was talking about and yes I was joshing about you getting paid to give advice on the forum.:) That is the problem often with e-mail you can't tell what the true meaning is.

Warmest Regards
;bg I'd not be too hasty in dismissing the hours and hours some folks put into the thoughts that find their way onto these threads as being inferior to teaching someone how to fly, sail, shoot, or bowl. Teaching a profession, consulting/advising/offering to me all come under what you lightly chided about consulting on this forum, for example... I still think you were right on... thmbp2; the most experienced impart the most knowledge to those of us who need it the most... like me... and I appreciate it... and specifically what you have offered me yourself... So thank you.

Much Aloha... Tom (aka Timtoyou) ;bg - by rattus58
;bg I'd not be too hasty in dismissing the hours and hours some folks put into the thoughts that find their way onto these threads as being inferior to teaching someone how to fly, sail, shoot, or bowl. Teaching a profession, consulting/advising/offering to me all come under what you lightly chided about consulting on this forum, for example... I still think you were right on... thmbp2; the most experienced impart the most knowledge to those of us who need it the most... like me... and I appreciate it... and specifically what you have offered me yourself... So thank you.

Much Aloha... Tom (aka Timtoyou) ;bg

Well Tim...that goes for you as well. I can't begin to tell you how much I have learned from you. I have to also take my hat off to Ace whose sales wisdom is profound and Gold Calling...all the hours he has spent giving advice to people that need it. The list could go on and on soooo...

You are guilty too Tim for giving away free advice and I thank you so much for that!

Warmest Regards

Martha (aka Marytoyou) - by MPrince
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