Gary Hibberd


Author: Gary Hibberd

Date: 21st July 2020


As an Information Security Consultant, I often have to defend the prices we charge. As a Yorkshire man, I am keenly aware that cost is a key factor when buying any product or service!

But over the years, I have learned to navigate this sensitive topic, and hopefully, explain why Consultants can be perceived to be an expensive resource. Possibly the best way to explain why you pay more for a Consultant than you would a contractor or full-time resource is illustrated in this apocryphal tale.


Turning the screw

The huge printing presses of a major newspaper began malfunctioning on the Saturday before Christmas, putting all the revenue for advertising that was to appear in the Sunday paper in jeopardy. None of the technicians could track down the problem. Finally, a frantic call was made to the retired printer who had worked with these presses for over 40 years. “We’ll pay anything; just come in and fix them,” he was told.

When he arrived, he walked around for a few minutes, surveying the presses; then he approached one of the control panels and opened it. He removed a dime from his pocket, turned a screw 1/4 of a turn, and said, “The presses will now work correctly.” After being profusely thanked, he was told to submit a bill for his work.

The bill arrived a few days later, for £10,000.00! Not wanting to pay such a huge amount for so little work, the printer was told to please itemise his charges, with the hope that he would reduce the amount once he had to identify his services. The revised bill arrived:

“£1.00 for turning the screw; £9,999.00 for knowing which screw to turn.”


Your History

When people introduce themselves in meetings, I pay close attention to not only what they say, but the way they say it. Often people introduce themselves with minimal background, or in a way that almost seems ‘apologetic’. As if having to tell you about their background is a bore, and not essential.

I couldn’t disagree more. I want to know what your backstory is. I want to understand how much knowledge and experience you have. If I’m buying a service from you, I want to know that you have more knowledge and experience than I do. It might also help me understand your point of view or your mindset.

Be very clear that when I introduce myself to you, you’re likely to get my whole CV presented to you!  It will be a quick sprint of 35 years in Data Protection and Cybersecurity,within around 60 seconds. Why? Because I want you to know that what you’re about to hear (from me), is information, knowledge and wisdom built up from 35 years of experience.


Features Vs benefits and value

When you hire a Consultant, you’re hiring someone who can get to the heart of the issue much quicker than a more general practitioner can. Using their knowledge, experience and insights, they can vastly reduce wasted time, reduce risks and improve the situation you’re looking to address.

When you’re looking to hire a Consultant you need to look beyond the price, which is just a feature, and focus on the benefits and value you will obtain from hiring someone who can quickly address the issue you’re having.

It doesn’t matter if the Consultant is focusing on business, sales, marketing, finance, IT, operations, CyberSecurity or Data Protection. The reason you’re looking for a Consultant is that you need a problem addressing. You know it’s important, and you are most likely experiencing some form of pain, by NOT hiring someone who knows what they’re doing.


Day rates

Normally Consultants will sell their services as a block of time, or on a day-rate. This gives you transparency of what you’re buying, but remember that you’re not buying that day, or that week. You’re paying for the ten, twenty or (in my case) thirty-five years of experience.

Look at it another way; When you buy tickets to see Adele, Lady Gaga, or Bruce Springsteen, are you paying for 2 hours of entertainment, or for ten, twenty, or (in Bruce’s case) thirty-five years of experience?

If you’re hiring a photographer for your daughters/sons wedding, would you pay the lowest price possible, running the risk of missing some of life’s most important moments? You could hire someone at just £200 for the day, or you might pay £2,000. 

Both photographers would be there for eight hours. They might even use the same kind of equipment. So what are you paying for?

Imagine you or one of your family were seriously ill, would you prefer to see a GP (General Practitioner) or would you prefer to see a Consultant? Someone who has focused on one particular discipline for ten, twenty or thirty-five years. Would price or experience be the deciding factor?


Reassuringly expensive

When people ask me about the price we charge as Cybersecurity and Data Protection Consultants, I often smile and say that we are “Reassuringly expensive”. You’re buying a quality product, with the knowledge that it has a pedigree and history that you can rely on.

I do appreciate that cost is a factor (i.e. feature) that needs to be taken into account, but my advice to anyone buying Consultative services (of any kind) is to understand the value and benefits you get from a Consultant who knows their worth.

For the longest time, I have said that I will never compete on price. If you come to me saying you have another Consultant offering similar services, but at a much lower rate, I will respectfully advise you to look closely at the value, you get from me, rather than the features we both offer.



Consultants can be perceived as expensive. But then again, can’t everything? If you’re flying away on holiday, you have several options; You can sit in the economy, business or first class, and although you all get to the same place at the same time, the experience is vastly different. 

The price of a car varies massively; Yet, as long as both are roadworthy, both will get you to where you need to be, but the driving experience is vastly different.

The question of cost is always going to be a factor, but don’t allow it to trump the value you will obtain from working with a Consultant who has been there, done it, and bought the t-shirt.

As they used to say on my favourite 80’s TV show…

“If you have a problem. If no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the C-Team!”

GP vs Consultant

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