Dear Sir's,

I am planning to work as a consultant for a company. I have no prior experience in consultancy. The company is a lab doing analysis of various solids / fluids and gases including chemicals. I shall be talking to the clients / or meeting them personally and convincing them to send their samples for analysis to the lab. The samples could be few or many depending upon the need of the customer and could be onetime or an ongoing process continuing for years with the quantum of samples being varied depending upon the tests to be carried out and the charges for same accordingly. There could also be a possibility of me getting the lab and the customer into a agreement for certain number of samples in a year of duration.

Request you to please guide me professionally as to the method for charging the client since i would be associating the probable customers with the lab and at times would not be able to know the quantum of samples since they could also directly deal with the lab. Also this would be a long term association with the lab so the methodology to follow to charge them whether onetime per new client or on the basis of received samples over a period of time.

Awaiting your professional inputs

From India, Pune
Dear Bhupesh,

What you would be doing is selling the competency of the lab to their prospective customers. This may not be regular salespersons job as you would be using your technical expertise to convince the customer. Nevertheless, I take it more as a salesmanship than consulting. By hiring your services, your client is in better position because it is not a salaried job. Therefore, there are no liabilities attached for failure to bring the orders.

Under the circumstances that you have provided, I recommend you doing your costing first. I recommend doing it on the following points:

What would be the cost of each visit to the customer? How many visits are required to convince the customer? How many hours of back-end work you would be required to do per conversion? Will you be hiring supporting staff like office secretary etc? What would be cost of overhead like computer services, internet services, printing services, office rental etc? Will your spouse or any other family member help in office job? What is expected sales cycle time? How many orders you expect to bring in the next financial year?

Since you fear that once the customer is given first order, your client may deal with the customer directly. Therefore, as and when deal with the customer gets closed, you tell the customer to provide the PO. For each PO, you may raise your invoice to your client for certain amount that covers all the expenses mentioned in the above paragraph.

Once again let me come back to selling skills. What have you done do hone your selling skills. If you think that services of your client can be sold only because of your technical expertise or contacts in the market, then it is a myth. Your contacts may help you in gaining entry in the customer's premises but that is not sufficient condition for the sale. For sales conversion, salesperson cannot rely only on technical know how or selling skills. Both are complementary to each other and either's absence will have fall back on the sales conversion.

All the best!

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

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