How To Identify A Consulting Leech

1. any bloodsucking or carnivorous aquatic or terrestrial worm of the class Hirudinea, certain freshwater species of which were formerly much used in medicine for bloodletting.
2. a person who clings to another for personal gain, especially without giving anything in return, and usually with the implication or effect of exhausting the other’s resources; parasite.

What is your definition of a leech? Perhaps you agree with one or both of the definitions above. I don’t. At least not when it comes to defining some consultants. My definition is a bit more harsh. Before I tell you what I believe best describes the current trend inching into the business consulting field let me explain how this thought came to mind.

I’ve been studying marketing and copywriting since I was a young teenager. In fact I launched my first ‘real’ mail order business when I was only 12 or 13 years old. I’ve been a serial entrepreneur and “professional transient” ever since. Since then I have launched, grown, dissolved, and sold more small businesses from home than I can recall. And as a result I have personally created marketing plans for over 100 businesses plus advised over 500 other business owners.

Still, despite my many experiences and successes over the years, I have not reached the overall success of many of my selected “guru” mentors. Why not? Because, as one of my mentors told me, I focus too heavily on delivering value to others to an excessive degree. As he said, I need to…

  • Cut back on what I deliver.
  • Put in place marketing packages that ‘string people along’. These packages must be partially self-directed to put more of the burden of delivery onto the client and less of the responsibility to deliver on me {i.e. convert as many ‘done-for-you’ consulting assignments as possible into done-for-yourself–by-yourself packages}.
  • Keep people paying hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of dollars a month ongoing indefinitely– whether clients avail themselves fully of the packages or not.
  • Structure packages in a way that makes the pain of disconnect extremely high–so clients are locked in and only willing to sever the relationship when the pain of staying is too much to bare.

In other words charge more, deliver less, and make people suffer for attempting to detach.

That to me is the definition of a leech.

In truth, if I followed that advice I could probably increase my income an extra quarter of a million to half a million per month. Do the math. That’s just 50 clients at $5,000 per month each or 100 at $2500 per month each. All I need to do is aggressively follow the advice to move clients to a monthly business model–even if that model does not present the best value for the client. And then charge for supposed ongoing effort, instead of delivering done-for-you packages designed with the goal of generating increased leads and sales without taking on an unexpected “partner”. And above all else…avoid all discussions related to potential results of those efforts. Change the subject.

Would this work? Definitely. At least in the short-term. And this would be good for business. (Mine.) Besides, who wouldn’t like that kind of ‘extra’ money coming in each month? I know I would like that kind of easy recurring income. A lot of good could be accomplished with that kind of extra income.

Obviously it would be too easy to justify ripping others off like that. As if convincing oneself that if ‘good’ can come from it that makes it right.

So how would I feel about myself after operating like that? Like a scoundrel. A thief. A leech.

If you’ve been in business any amount of time, you are probably seeing more and more independent vendors and companies you’ve done business with in the past now switching to a recurring business model of some sort. Good for their businesses bad for yours.

Such a business model is akin to taking on a partner. You are in essence giving up a portion of your future business income to a third-party who likely has had nothing to do with your success. Such people tap into the rewards of your success with none of the risk common to making a company grow. A leech.

How do consultants pull this off? Easily. Only two steps are required.

  1. Sell the value of time and ease of use.
  2. Avoid any discussions about the value and power of ROI, as if assuming everyone is ‘too stupid’ to understand the importance of ROI as if the topic were a foreign language.

Here’s how this works…

In my line of consulting I work with companies seeking ongoing business growth. Let’s look at just one area of what I do as an example; reputation management.

To sell the value of time in the reputation management arena I could simply explain to the prospective client, each month I will check for negative remarks and reviews and help the prospective client manage and respond to those reviews where possible, no real work required of the client. Second, to offset any potential future negative remarks, we put in place ‘systems’ to get past, current, and future customers to respond favorably in your behalf. And third, we then legally and ethically distribute or encourage your client/customer/patient to distribute the positive remarks in your behalf. All the burden is on me and my team. No additional work is required of you the client. Sounds good doesn’t it?

Here’s the thing, it’s a lie. When you hire a consultant to create a done-for-you reputation management system all the work is rightly billed as a one-time process. That’s because the work of creating and setting everything up is done only once. Everything is automated from then on out. Zero maintenance is required and little to no ongoing cost is required.

But in a recurring business model you are led to believe that there is some kind of arcane mystical work being done unbeknownst to you by your consulting team in the background. Not true. The work of setting up such systems is one-time. Everything, I mean absolutely everything about this process is automated or otherwise self-managed. So why spend $999 a month, $5000 a month, or $10,000 a month or more every month for something that is automated and functions independently of any ongoing effort from your hired marketing team? You shouldn’t. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

The same is true of other areas of marketing too; client reactivation packages, new client attraction and acquisition programs, referral systems, etc. In each of these areas you can choose to hire someone to deliver one-time done-for-you marketing packages based on your specific circumstances or you can choose from among the ‘smoke and mirror’ packages…and pay-for-life. [I should be fair. There are exceptions. Very few justifiable exceptions.]

Why do I hate recurring business models so much?

As with most areas of life I’ve seen that in the short-term scammers seem to win. I don’t like that at all. But fortunately it is easier to build long-term positive relationships as a consultant when you are honest and forthright. In fact, my mentor who’s promoting his ‘leech’ business model has admitted he is constantly scrambling to replace ‘fall off’ each month. His average client only stays a few months. Once they catch on they leave. I on the other hand have business owners who’ve felt free to call on me for advice again and again now for quite a number of years.

So sure, this particular mentor is making many many millions in the short-term. But at what cost? His own reputation is being damaged with those who’ve excised the leeching. No more bloodletting. They may leave being lead to believe failure is ‘their fault for not following through’, while inwardly suspecting something was wrong with the goods they were sold. They were right.

The problem is they took on a parasite. One that had the ability to temporarily ‘numb’ the pain of an unhealthy attachment.

Fortunately I’m not alone in developing a disdain for that business model. The world in general is waking up. They are seeing this unhealthy pattern for what it is. Some companies are opting for 100% in-house solutions. Others are seeking done-for-you custom solutions that do not amount to paying tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands a year unnecessarily.

I say pay once and be done with it.

Of course, though, if you like the bloodletting go ahead and seek someone only too willing to charge month after month after month until you realize they are bleeding you dry. There are no shortage of such leeches. Heck, cut off the head of one and another pops back up somewhere else. That is, at least for as long as you have something left to pilfer. Soon as they cause things to go bad for you they’ll drop off and go after someone else. Such is the pattern and identity of a leech. It’s their nature.

If you are seeking to grow your company without the ongoing hassles of taking on unanticipated and unshakable life long ‘partners’ contact Andre for a Skype Consultation Request.

The cost to talk with Andre about your business growth problems is $55 for up to 35 minutes. You will be directed to a payment page if your request for a consultation is approved and accepted. Andre will contact you to arrange a convenient time for the consultation.

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About Andre Bell
Andre strives to help marketers discover the near-immediate impact of honest ethical marketing practices. He has advised hundreds of business owners on how to keep their dignity as they implement direct response marketing methods that work. Andre is one of only a handful of remaining professionals who can boast having become an online marketer a decade before the World Wide Web came into existence. And as a serial entrepreneur Andre launched his first direct mail business around the age of 12-years old. He has been building and advising ever since.