It’s my profession, What Do You Expect Me To Do?

The secret to being able to get more things done in a day is preparation.

By virtue of my business (ERP consulting) I tend to come into contact with quite a few users of MAS90 software who’ve found my company through a web search or read an article that I’ve written somewhere.

I don’t want to seem like I’m ungrateful – because I really enjoy working with new companies. However  many of these companies have deep technical questions they’d like answered (for free) or want to get a bid on a complex problem such as a system upgrade — for free.

If you’re asking yourself “shouldn’t bids be free” — my answer is no. Not when the bid often also requires that the provide have expert knowledge and diagnostic capabilities around the subject matter.

A range of pricing should be free. That’s what we provide.

A proposal with an exact price, steps that will be taken, and schedule for performing that work should be paid.

Using the power of easy search and this tool called a search engine visitors send a seemingly endless flood of emails looking for free advice.

I never make the mistake in thinking that I’m the only one receiving the emails – and you shouldn’t either. Most seem generic enough that they’ve probably been crafted to be sent to multiple people hoping that one of them will provide a free answer to a technical question.

Should these answers and proposals all be free? My answer is no.

To quote my friend Ed Kless who in turn is quoting one of his favorite TV Shows (Mad Men) – “It’s my profession , what do you expect me to do?”.

There’s a Thin Line Between Being Kind and Helpful – and Being Asked to Work for Free

Generating quotes for upgrades is the most common example of an inquiry where someone asks for free advice disguised as being a quote.

However in order to quote an upgrade effectively (and by effectively I mean on a basis other than guessing at the number or throwing out a wide range of hours such as “it will be 40 to 60 hours and if it’s less you pay less — and if it’s more you pay more” there’s a level of experience that must be present in the person doing the quoting.

You must understand the software being used (and on the MAS 90 level that means knowing versions 3.5 all the way up to 4.3), any customizations, and the extend of third party programs being used.

Through the last 25 years of working in consulting I’ve found that the worst thing that I could do is be unprepared.

That’s why I’ve developed a string of quoting tools I’m using as a reply to those users asking for quotes. Below is what I’ve worked developed over the last several months. Feel free to re-use this in your practice — or just take any parts of it that you find useful. The only thing I ask is that you don’t re-sell it.

You’ll notice that this quoting tool advices the prospective client that for no money they can complete our form that asks them questions about their Sage ERP MAS 90 system.

Or – if they prefer – we are available to complete the form on their behalf for a fee of $ 500.

The result? It’s only been a short while but my experience is that I’ll never hear from 80% of the people again.

However …. take a guess at the percent of people in the past who I never heard from again where I skipped asking them to complete a form and instead I jumped into doing a full pre-upgrade analysis and then sending a quote? ….

Yeah, about 80%.

Which means if either way that I manage the process there are 80% of the people who disappear — aren’t I better off to have a defined process that invites prospects to participate (and self qualify). If I never receive a completed form back from 80% of the prospects — I’m doing no worse than under the method where I’d have spent 2 to 4 hours with the prospect (and likely provide some free advice and tips along the way).

My 2010 Standard Response For Inquiries About MAS 90 Upgrades

Hi —,

The price for an upgrade varies depending on any number of factors — including # of users, # of companies, amount of historical data, customizations which might be present (forms, reports, Custom Office, third party enhancements, etc).

I have a checklist that I’m linking below. If you would complete the form I’ll have a look and provide you with our preliminary estimate.

The way we provide upgrade estimates is:

1. Have the data gathered (in most cases the client completes this at no cost though we can do that work for a fee)
2. Review the information submitted and provide a preliminary estimate
3. If the estimate is within your budget we’ll arrange for a time to log in remotely to quickly look at your system
4. We’ll prepare a proposal which is a fixed cost price to upgrade

We also offer post-upgrade support plans which go into affect after your upgrade is finalized. I’m including a link to that plan as well.

Step #1:

Complete “Initial Questions: MAS 90 or MAS 200 Upgrade Quote Request”

Link:

http://goo.gl/eK0NU

Step #2:

Review the Schulz Consulting Support Agreement

Link:

http://goo.gl/B2YSY

If you have any questions please let me know,

Thanks

— Wayne

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