In 1959, Peter Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker” in his book, The Landmarks of Tomorrow. Simply defined as workers whose main capital is knowledge, misunderstanding of this term and the implications has caused abject confusion especially among professions such as accountants who still view themselves as working in professional service firms.
Knowledge workers, unlike service workers, do not sell their services as is often thought, but rather they sell access to or transfer of their knowledge. This access or transfer cannot be purchased by the hour, yet for years countless professionals have struggled with this self-concept especially with regard to pricing.
Creating access-level agreements
For the last decade, I have devoted my career to helping professionals see themselves as a knowledge worker and adjust their business model accordingly from one of “we sell time” to “we sell knowledge.”
Creating Access-Level Agreements distills some of the best thinking from myself and other knowledge leaders with which I have worked into a digestible nugget of knowledge. While it is written for accountants, the principles adapt easily to other professions as well.
Professionals should be designing agreements that offer their customers choices. As human beings, we are predisposed to like the idea of having choices. It is quite surprising then that most professional firms do not offer their customers choices on a regular basis. Instead, they are locked into the idea of providing a billing rate and a range of hours as an estimate. However, the price is driven by the perceived value of the customer.
To most customers of professional organizations, the “feature” that drives the most value from their perspective is how quickly the professional will return their call. In other words, not the service itself, but rather the level of access they have. This means that professionals should be designing agreements that offer their customers choices and highlight the response time as the first element in each of these offerings.
The switch to access-level agreements can be rewarding to both the professional firm and the customers you serve. Meeting the needs of your customers will create happy customers, and keep you ahead of the competition.