Hiring a vendor is hard, especially for something as personal to your company and website as marketing. Any marketing done for your company will inevitably be seen by your customers and likely will even drive the first touch they ever even have with your brand. Thus, hiring a trusted vendor is one of the most important things you can do for your brand if you do not bring the project inhouse (and maybe even then you will still need a consultant).

Here is the problem – most businesses start with an hourly rate and amount of work expected mindset, not a results and value mindset. If companies are going to become better at hiring and thus be more successful, the mindset must shift to one where impact, success, and experience are more heavily considered than hourly wage and set deliverables.

Let’s unpack this.

Why businesses value hourly rates

Money is the holy grail of life (so people say, though I disagree), and thus we are endlessly fascinated by it. People always wonder what others make (hint: usually lower than you expect), where they spend it, etcetera. This all comes back to if someone or some business is being smart with their money (or even more fascinatingly, if they are not).

Thus, it makes sense that people tend to value 10hrs of work at $50 an hour than 2 hours of work at $250 per hour. Both are a total of $500, which is an absolute sham for the person putting in the 10 hours (raise your rates already), but the output could be drastically different.

That rarely matters when making business decisions. Big bosses ask “So what are we getting for it?” Often, to justify the spend, the ones needing the help have to tell their boss something concrete, like “we will get these 4 deliverables” or some such nonsense. Because they are then hemmed into this, and each deliverable takes a number of hours, and budget constraints are always very real, the company must then go for the lower hourly rate.

See the vicious cycle we get stuck in very easily? What you should instead be looking for is a consultant that doesn’t promise you the world, but rather has some ideas for where to start. You are hiring them for their expertise, so let them be the expert. If you don’t trust that they are an expert, don’t work with them.

There is a better way.

A better way

First, let’s ask ourselves why companies usually go looking for an agency or outside consultant. Either they don’t have the staff internally with the neeed knowledge to do the job well, their internal team is ineffective, or they want to keep the company lean and thus outsource. All of these are valid, but they all come back to the same need – the company needs to invest in something and see an ROI on their investment within a reasonable amount of time. Make sense?

Now, let’s think about those two consultants we referenced earlier – one charges $50 per hour, the other $250. Now, assuming they are priced fairly, this is a massive difference. Why might the one be priced higher? Usually, they are priced higher because they have delivered a lot of value for clients over the years, those clients have referred them more work, and they know they are worth it.

Someone charging $50 per hour for consulting work (as I did when I first started out) likely is more inexperienced and will take longer to get the work done.

And if an agency is only charging $50 per hour, run away. How well do you think they are paying their staff and how much attention do you think you will get?

You get what you pay for.

Better questions to ask

As the business seeking a consultant, the onus is on you to find one that suits your needs and your company. Same as hiring someone internally, you should find a consultant who will work with you as a partner, not just someone collecting a paycheck. This also means you need to treat this consultant as a partner and not be seeking to nickel and dime them (same as you hopefully do not nickle and dime your employees).

So here are some better questions to ask potential consultants before you agree to work with them:

  • Do you have experience in (industry) or a similar vertical? (Knowledge of how challenging your vertical is goes a long way)
  • How do you start projects? (Ie audit, quick wins, go away for 2 weeks and prepare a report)
  • What is your style of working with clients? (ie do they come onsite, do they do weekly or more frequent calls)
  • How do you measure value or success? (a good consultant will turn around and ask you the same thing)
  • What’s a reasonable timeline to expect to start seeing results? What will be expected of me to see those results, since this is a partnership?
  • What if we paid you 2x what our current budget is? What could you do then?

And here are some questions a good consultant will ask:

  • Why did you start your business, or what makes it unique?
  • What is the history of (marketing channel) at your company? Why are we talking?
  • What are your business goals this year? Next year? 5 years out?
  • Who is the decision maker about what gets implemented or not internally?
  • Who else should I talk to internally?
  • What questions am I not asking you?

I hope all of this helps businesses and consultants ask better questions, and also helps people walk away from the wrong current or ongoing business relationship.

As always, if you need to find a new consultant, just contact us. Credo has the best SEO, social media, and content marketers on the Internet.