I'm a big fan of Nassim N. Taleb, and yesterday came across an idea that stood out while rereading "Skin in the Game":
Focusing on just words put us at a dangerous path since we are much better at doing than understanding. Doers win by doing and not by convincing.
How does that apply to your consulting practice?
- Chances are most of your potential clients don't know you or what you do.
- Of those who do know you, 98% don't have a "problem" in their mind.
- Of those 2% aware of a problem, most are not sure if and how you can help.
It's your responsibility to help them understand it. And the best way to do that is by showing them how, instead of trying to convince them with words.
Creating A Buy
Stop talking about what you do, and start showing what you do.
Pick you list of dream clients, and offer them one of these:
- Discussion about a trend or new topic: It could be anything your prospects would be interested in hearing about. First, do a quick introduction to the topic as the expert. Then, discuss how this impacts your prospect's business (risks and opportunities).
- Quick analysis or diagnostic: This works when there's a business case that needs to be made before hiring you. A quick benchmark against the industry, for example, brings attention to what your prospect is doing much worse than their competitors and how much it is costing them.
- Introduction to peers: Offer to connect your prospect with other people who have a similar role or grapple with similar business problems. This is especially powerful when you can connect a prospect with a fan or someone who has already worked with you to solve the same challenge.
Once your prospects are aware of their risks and opportunities, understand why it matters to them, and see you as an expert who puts their best interests first, many will say "Great discussion. How could you help us with those challenges?"
The process feels natural and inevitable.
Don't Work For Free
Showing how you work does not mean giving your expertise away for free.
I teach consultants how to deal with this delicate balance of "being helpful" vs "creating scarcity and sustaining high fees" on my training programs. How you communicate it really matters. But there are 3 helpful tips to design these initiatives.
All of the previously mentioned suggestions need to:
- Be easy for you to create and execute: They should rarely take you more than 60 minutes of work. If you offer a diagnostic, for example, the key is to scale the size of your analysis so that it creates curiosity but allows you to charge for a more detailed one.
- Offer genuine value to the prospect: This might sound obvious, but I still see consultants doing presentations on topics that are completely irrelevant to their prospects. You want to create a conversation, not transform this into a pitch.
- Lead to paid work: These ideas offer a taste of what it's like to work with you, with the goal of winning a paid engagement. Think backward: Which one of my services do I believe this prospect would benefit from? Now brainstorm what you could offer them to create interest for this offering.
Aim for smaller transactions. People don't hire consulting services on the first date. But moving from words into actions will create demand and earn you trust.
Show them what you do and why you're an expert. Doers win by doing.