Yesterday I wrote about the importance of being resourceful to win and retain your dream clients.
Consultants need to use their specific knowledge, experience, and creativity to solve difficult problems, which include connecting with new people, understanding needs and desires, and building consensus across organizations.
But how can you become more resourceful? Anthony Iannarino, one of my favorite sales authors, has a good take on this. According to him, resourcefulness has two parts:
- Belief: To be resourceful, you must abandon the self-defeating belief that something is impossible. Resourceful people know that even though a solution may not be immediately obvious, it probably exists.
- Imagination: Imagination helps you generate new ideas, whether entirely new or pieced together from other ideas. New ideas allow you to solve problems and create opportunities.
Both of these parts can be tough for you to work on. But based on my previous experiences working with consulting partners, a lack of imagination is much more common than a lack of belief.
Imagination's Slow Death
A big part of building and growing a consulting business consists of breaking mental barriers, doing things you've never done before, and cultivating a positive mindset. Worry and fear are always present. But most seasoned consultants, sooner or later, are forced to deal with them.
With imagination, it's different. Consultants that perform highly creative work may be comfortable with the exercise of generating and exploring new ideas. But most of us are not.
Consulting, after all, consists of providing and/or implementing expert advice. And expertise requires specialization. Advising on topics we know little about is the same as simply expressing an opinion - there's no value for the client.
That's why most successful consultants invest time documenting and improving their methodology, internal processes, and recurring tasks. But that also leads some of us to have a possessive relationship with knowledge. We tend to treat our ideas as things that need to be protected and defended - which slowly but surely cripple our imagination.
3 Steps To Increase Resourcefulness
If you already know everything, there's no space for learning. To improve your ability to solve difficult problems, you will need to abandon preconceptions and biases. With these three steps, you can do it now:
- Spend time thinking: Sounds obvious but few consultants do it. Schedule time for thinking and commit to it. It's a meeting between you and yourself to look for solutions for your most pressing challenges.
- Generate ideas: In the context of business development, you can ask questions such as: What can I do to help my current clients get better results? How can I move forward with that stalled opportunity? What are the most common problems my clients face? What haven’t I tried yet? How are other people solving these problems?
- Explore Ideas without Judgment: If you try to create while simultaneously judging what you come up with, you will shut down the creative part of your mind. Ask yourself: What has changed during the time I have been doing this in the one way I have chosen? Is this still the right choice? What part of me is uncomfortable trying something new, and why does it make me uncomfortable?
If you want to damage your self-confidence and reputation, just say “It can’t be done.” Say it to your clients, say it to yourself, and you’ll never be seen as a trusted advisor.
You don't need to always have the perfect answer, but putting your clients first means it's your responsibility to invest time and effort in looking for solutions.