What are the main goals of your first calls with a dream client? Build trust, prove your expertise, and get them to commit to moving forward in the sales process.
The most effective way for consultants to do that is by being consultative.
A consultative sales approach will position you as an expert and trusted advisor. The key is to take initiative and share value in every conversation in the form of insights. With these conversations, you will earn the right to ask for the commitments needed to move the deal forward (their time, an opportunity to explore needs, a chance to propose solutions, etc.)
One of the best ways to do that is by sharing stories. Here are four stories you need to have, with examples of how they would sound like in practice (credits to the amazing Anthony Iannarino for each one of them):
- A story of where they are now: "What is happening in the market now?" You are going to need trends, third-party data, and analysis - it's made up of facts that can be proven and verified. Stories like these help your prospect to see something they didn't know or haven't noticed before.
Example: “Every day in the United States, roughly 11,000 baby boomers retire. That is is 4,000,000 people retiring each year or 333,000 a month. The US Economy creates about 150,000 jobs per month now. Each month, as the largest generation of Americans retires, the gap between open positions and available workers grows larger, as the generations that followed the Baby Boomers are smaller.”
- A story of threatening or significant implications: "How does it affect you?" Your first story may not be enough to compel your prospects to change. So you need to change what are the implications of keep doing what they're doing - or doing nothing at all. Highlighting the costs is as important as showing where the value is.
Example: “What are the implications of Baby Boomers retiring in large numbers? There are too few people available to backfill their jobs. There is a growing skills gap, as the available employees lack the time and experience in specific roles. The generations behind the Baby Boomers aren’t interested in the positions available. All of these mean you are going to be challenged by finding the people you need to staff your business.”
- A story of a better future: "How can you create a better future?" It's not about your services or offerings, but about the outcomes your prospect wants or needs to reach their goals. You will need a theory about what is necessary to succeed, based on your previous successful engagements.
Example: “In the future, it is essential that you both acquire the talent you need to compete and grow your business, as well as building the capabilities of the people you hire when they lack the experience or training. With a strategy that balances a combination of buying and developing talent, you have a competitive advantage and are positioned to continue growing.”
- A story of how to change: "What do you need to do to achieve a better future?" Finally, you will discuss the specific outcomes that the prospect will need (and are generated by your services). If the advice is accurate and correct even if they choose to work with a competitor, you are consultative.
Example: “The two changes necessary to build a balanced program require changes to your employee value proposition to allow you to attract and retain passive candidates and a training and development program for job titles that will enable you to build talent that can grow into greater responsibility.”
These stories are employed not only with prospects but with current clients. Retention and growth come from identifying new risks or sources of value for your clients, compelling them to change, and delivering on your marketing promises.
What are the stories you can share with your current prospects and clients?