Getting Started In Consulting
Author: Alan Weiss
I read this book over a decade ago. I took a hundred (or more) notes on 3x5 cards, which are currently stored in my "Travis' undergrad work" box. The notes below are ones that I pulled out today which resonated with our current situation.
Website Criteria * Provide value to the buyer immediately. Offer typical client results on the front page. * Provide testimonials or character references. * Provide incremental value. New articles, techniques, self-tests, etc. * Make it easy to contact you * Consider a newsletter
Provide value to the prospect early and often.
We should provide value immediately, for free, so that the prospect comes to value our relationship and is readily disposed to formalize it.
The ability to develop relationships with economic buyers is the single most important factor in launching and perpetuating a consulting practice.
Finding the right buyer
3 questions to determine marketing scope
1. What is the value added that you bring to clients?
2. Who is likely to write a check for that value?
3. How do you reach that person?
5 key Principles for acquiring business
1. Acquiring consulting clients is totally dependent on building solid relationships not making sales
2. Relationships are always built with specific people, not with organizations
3. The best way to build relationships is by placing yourself in the buyer's shoes and thinking from the outside-in.
4. The buyer doesn't care how good you are; The buyer only cares what's in it for the buyer. Focus on business outcomes, not methodology.
5. Trust is the key to strong and healthy relationships
If you adhere to these rules you will be head and shoulders above most people who enter the consulting business.
Selling consulting services is about creating relationships. Consultants must build relationships, not make sales calls.
Pro bono work
Assume a position of trust, visibility, and impact. I suggest you volunteer to take on the dirtiest jobs, those that no-one else readily accepts. Fund raising, chair volunteer head, corporate sponsor chair, and so on. The more your pro-bono position lends itself to meeting other potential customers outside the volunteer org the more powerful.
As a rule, pro bono work that involves contact only with individuals within the organization will be your least effective for your networking and marketing.
Don't wait until your pro-bono work is done to request a meeting with a potential partner. It's much harder to link up after the fact.
Marketing - beginning press kit
Results a Client Can Expect
Prospects don't care about how good you think you are. They care about how they might benefit if they hired you. Insert a sheet with a heading such as Typical Client Results or Benefits of Our Approach
Talking to consultants
Q: What would you do differently?
A: I under-networked and overprinted. I failed to capitalize on the vast network I had.
A: I had no idea how deeply interrelated speaking and consulting are. Providing you speak to the right level audience, you have before you a captive group of high-value prospects. Through careful honing of the communication and leaving the audience knowing that you have much more to offer them, you will have them linking up with their business cards after the presentation. I wish I had realized much sooner that speaking was a perfect road to consulting work.
Educating the Client
Career Key: If you find yourself discussing fees and not value at any time, you have lost control of the discussion with the buyer. Refocus the conversation on outcomes and results immediately.
The consultant's website should not make the prospect think. Provide clarity and value to the potential buyer immediately.
- What, exactly will you do for him?
- What kind of results can he expect?
- What do past clients have to say about your work?
- What content (articles, self-tests, etc) proves that you have thought leadership in this area?
- Make it easy to contact you
- Have a newsletter signup
Provide value for the client early and often, for free in the beginning. If done right, the prospect will come to value our relationship and look forward to formalizing it.
Relationships are the single most important lever in consulting.
- Relationships are built by putting yourself in the buyer's shoes and thinking from the outside-in.
- The prospective buyer doesn't care how good you are, only what you can make happen for them.
- Provide value up front, for free, until you prove that you can be trusted, are qualified, and have a clear understanding of their needs
There are three things to keep in mind in order to determine the scope of your marketing activities:
1. What is the value-add that you'll deliver to clients?
2. Who is your purchaser? What is her persona?
3. How do you get in touch with that person?
Pro-bono work can be a great way to raise your profile and meet people who might ultimately end up as clients.
Networking is the key to meeting new people and developing relationships with them. And relationships, as we know, are the only way to sell consulting services.
Public speaking is a great way to network because you lever your ability to reach many people at the same time.
If you are negotiating an engagement and you find yourself discussing fees instead of value, the discussion has gotten out of your control. Try to refocus the conversation on outcomes and results as fast as possible.
- Alan Weiss