Consulting: The Other ABC

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For consultants one of the key rules is ABC = Always Be Closing. It’s a cliché, of course, and in some circles a dark joke, but for anyone who doesn’t have a salary or a steady income it’s no laughing matter—it’s your job, it’s what you have to do every day.

But that’s not the only way to think about ABC. Nearly a decade ago, I came up with a different version which I think is even more important for consultants to keep in mind: ABC = Always Be Compensated.

For consultants, that means getting paid for what you do and for the value you bring. No free ideas, no free work.

Consultants should never overcharge or overpromise, but neither should they undercharge, or it will be a race to the bottom for fees and their work will be taken for granted.

Clients, for their part, shouldn’t underpay consultants or the smart ones will leave the industry and only the hucksters and hustlers (and desperate) will remain. Sure, the feasibility studies and due diligence reports you need will still get written, and you’ll pay very little for them, but they won’t be worth much more than the paper they’re written on and you won’t learn much from them and they won’t be taken seriously.