Discover the practices that should be followed (and the mistakes that should be avoided) when consulting.
8 min read
The opinions expressed by collaborators are personal.
What is the easiest way to fail on a business call? Talk only about you. I'm in charge of helping consultants scale their business efficiently, and this is one of the most common mistakes I've had to witness. It is possible that you have been taught to perfect your elevator pitch, or to talk about a magnificent process that you had to develop. Unfortunately, your prospects don't want to hear your sales strategy or matchless vision – they want you to understand them. Once you demonstrate an understanding of their problems, they will want to hear your plan to solve them. That is all.
You shouldn't even think of it as a business call, it's an initial conversation. In the end, you want them to feel excited about collaborating with you, not to feel like you convinced them to do something they didn't understand, or aren't interested in.
The dreaded feeling of “selling”
If you're not direct enough, your consulting sales can seem scary. Fortunately, you don't have to be so direct, you just have to have the desire to help your clients. Plus, with the right process, you probably never have to make one of those terrifying calls. Instead, you can connect with prospects through referrals or a lead magnet on your website.
A lead magnet is any type of content that you provide for free in exchange for a prospect's contact details. A good lead magnet solves problems or doubts of the audience you are targeting. Mine is an eBook ” The 10 biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make on social networks and what you should do to avoid them “. If you don't already have something like this, it should be in your plans, because conversations become easier when you have demonstrated your experience and courage.
When you talk to a prospect, you should listen more than you talk, but you should make sure that you are receiving the appropriate information. These are the five questions you should ask during an initial conversation.
1. What is happening and how is it affecting your business / personal life?
It is likely that you have some information before the initial call, which can give you an idea of the situation, but it is important that they always start from scratch. The more information you can get about their specific needs, the better you can explain how you plan to help them, if you can. If you can't help them, this is the right time to let them know. Maybe you know a colleague who can, or have some resources that can help, but be honest to avoid damaging your reputation, and spending your time and money. Let's suppose that you can help them and you can continue with your survey.
If you are able to quantify the impact on your income, it will be easier for you to justify the cost of your services. If you can help someone earn $ 80,000 and your fee is $ 10,000, it is obviously a good investment. However, some problems are not related to income, such as insomnia. In this case, you will want to focus on how this problem is affecting your personal life.
Make notes, ask them to pause if necessary. This is not rude, on the contrary, you are showing that you really want to understand their problem.
2. What have you tried to solve this problem?
Again, you shouldn't start talking about yourself until you fully understand his problem. Their response will help you in several ways:
You will not recommend solutions that have previously failed.
You will be able to correct solutions that could have been successful if they had been carried out properly.
Also, you will have a better vision of how important it is for them to solve this problem. It's also your time to show empathy by paraphrasing and creating hypotheses.
For example: “It seems like you've been working on this for a long time, I imagine it must be morally and productively exhausting, implementing one solution after another.”
3. What are the approaches or resources that you have not explored yet?
This may be one of the least selfish questions you can ask. Together, they can determine if there is an internal resource or someone who can be hired to resolve the problem. You can assist or work with them one more time if the problem persists after they have tried to solve it themselves. Your goal is to help them solve their problems, even if they don't need you to.
Again, this is an unselfish approach, but it will serve to increase your reputation for being trustworthy and solution-oriented.
Myself, I have had to lose my job in this phase, to later receive referrals from this same prospect.
4. What do you need to happen to feel good about the result? What results are you looking for?
This is a paraphrased version of an approach developed by Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach. Be prepared to write down his answer. They will tell you exactly what they want from you, and – inadvertently – what a referral or testimonial will get you. You will also hear more of his vision. Just talking about their mission will make it more tangible for them, and position you as the person who will help them get there.
Paraphrase their answer, reinforce any critical aspects they mention. Once this part is complete, you can start talking more about yourself and how you can help them achieve their vision. Again, continue only if you are confident that you can help them achieve their goals.
5. Do you want me to help you?
This is a simple but very powerful question, which I started asking thanks to the advice of Mike Koenigs, adviser and CEO of MikeKoenigs.com.
You should always ask this question openly. They may say yes, no, or ask more questions about your method. Never say, “I can send you more information.” Nor “Would you like to think about it a little more and schedule another call?” Just ask. If they want more information or think about it a little more, let them be the ones to tell you.
You should only ask this question if you really want to work with the client. You want to become their friend, not just be a service provider.
This may be a difficult question to ask, but it will help you better understand the situation and begin planning the next steps. Hopefully the project closes, but if not, the experience will give you a better approach for the future.
It is important to remember that the prospect wants your call to work. He has a problem and believes that you can help him. Focus on who you are, listen to their needs, and enjoy the conversation. The only thing you need is to be the best version of yourself and you cannot be if you pretend to be someone you are not.
Good luck !