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The Consulting Sale: Rapport Building Versus Making A Sale




As consultants we are paid for our knowledge and advice.

Truly we are paid for what our knowledge and advice CREATES.

The PROBLEM it solves.

The RESULT it enables.

On Client Acquisition

Consultants often find themselves holding back information from a prospective client.

Afraid to give away too much…

Yet, if you don’t demonstrate your expertise and HOW you will help the buyer you won’t win their business.

  • No, don’t hold back. When you discover something that can help your client be in a better place, see an even greater result…even if it’s not in the scope or area of your current project let them know about it.

Sure, you will encounter dishonest buyers. Those who have no REAL intention of hiring you. Who are casting a net to see what they can pull in.

They are few and shouldn’t be of concern.

When engaging in a conversation with a buyer don’t hold back.

Make it clear to them that YOU are and EXPERT and that YOU CAN help them.

The value you provide them should create a feeling of “Wow, if they are giving me so much value for free imagine what they will provide when I hire them.”

There is an important distinction I’ll make. And that is that you will talk about HOW you will help them. SHOW them what the general process will look like.

Provide them with a HIGH LEVEL view of what they can expect and how you will enable the result they want.

Don’t go into every minute step of the process. Don’t paint the conversation in such detail that the buyer holds your blueprint and no longer needs you.

On Working with a Client

As you begin working with your client the next question appears: How much should you  help them?

Should you stick to focusing solely on the scope of the project you have been engaged for…even if you discover other areas of the client’s business that can be improved?

The answer is…yes and no!

Yes, you should keep the scope of the project. Do the work you have agreed to and provide exceptional value and results for your client. If the client directly asks you to do additional work beyond the scope of your agreement – let them know you’ll be happy to – and that you’ll put together a proposal to cover that.

Avoid scope creep. If you allow a client to make a ‘little’ addition here and then a little addition there…they add up.

No, don’t hold back. When you discover something that can help your client be in a better place, see an even greater result…even if it’s not in the scope or area of your current project let them know about it.

  • You’ve now increased the value of that client and generated new revenue and income. The client is happy and so too are you!

You shouldn’t start WORKING on it. Simply tell them. Make sure they are aware.

Two things can happen from this:

1) The client can take that information and implement. They will appreciate that you are providing great value even though it’s not connected directly to your existing project. No harm done for you. It doesn’t take away from your compensation and focus of your main project – you haven’t DONE additional work.

2) The client will thank you for the new information and suggestions and ask for your help. You will be able to place a new proposal in front of them for that additional work. And you’ve now increased the value of that client and generated new revenue and income. The client is happy and so too are you!

Whether you are in the client acquisition stage or already working with your client giving more advice IS BENEFICIAL to your client and your own business.

If you’re looking to grow your consulting business and want help to create a step-by-step plan to market your services more effectively, attract more ideal clients and grow your income get in touch here.

Win More Consulting Business by Giving More Advice

Have you ever felt uncomfortable asking for the sale?

You were speaking with a buyer, your ideal client, and for some reason it slipped out of your hands like a wet bar of soap. You thought the sale was coming and then it was gone.

  • Your first focus should be on building rapport with your buyer. People don’t buy from people they don’t like. So job one is to establish a foundation for the relationship. One that you can build on.

Consultants often become frustrated in situations like these. They know they can help the buyer and yet they can’t seem to win their business.

Has this ever happened to you?

Let’s explore why this happens and how to deal with it so that you can start winning more business.

Opportunity to Make the Sale

Entering into a conversation with your ideal consulting client is essential to make the sale. It’s your best opportunity and without the conversation your chances of winning the sale are slim to none.

But you don’t want to start the conversation with the focus on making the sale. Why?

Because before you enter the conversation you don’t even know if you can really help the buyer. Are you the best person to do so? If not, there’s no point in making the sale, right? As consultants we’re not in the business of just selling our services. We’re in the business of providing value and results for our clients.

Since we know that every sale starts with a conversation here’s how to get it started…

1. Build Rapport with Buyer

Your first focus should be on building rapport with your buyer. People don’t buy from people they don’t like. So job one is to establish a foundation for the relationship. One that you can build on.

Your initial conversation can be about a variety of things: the weather (yes, I know that sounds so boring but people love talking about the weather), your location or where the buyer is from, anything you have in common, specifics about their industry, hobbies, etc. The important thing is that you want to start the conversation with a topic that the buyer wants to talk about. Not something they will find boring and certainly not about selling something to them.

Note: This initial conversation topic shouldn’t take up your whole meeting. Even a few short minutes to break the ice and build that rapport and friendly feeling is sufficient.

Another note: Be genuine. This isn’t a show. You’re not an actor. Don’t make things up. Be honest, transparent and real.

Now that the conversation has started on the right foot it’s time to move to the next step…

2. Enter the Sales Conversation

Despite the name the Sales Conversation isn’t about making the sale. You may make a sale and you may not. Again this will depend on whether there is a good fit.

If you can really solve the problems that the buyer is having and you can do so in a way that provides great value you’ll likely be able to make the sale (if you follow the tips I’m sharing here).

Your effectiveness in having this conversation depends on two things:

  1. The questions you ask. Regardless of how comfortable (or uncomfortable) you are making sales and speaking with buyers when you learn the specific questions to ask making sales becomes much, much easier.
  2. Discover the value. One of the most important parts of the Sales Conversation is to discover the value for the buyer. Once you’ve done this you will be well prepared to communicate the value of your services to the buyer. This allows you to win the business more quickly and ALSO to earn significantly higher fees because the buyer SEES the value and will invest with you at a much higher level.

After you’ve gone through the Sales Conversation (a series of questions that you ask the buyer) you will determine whether or not it makes sense for you to make your offer.

Here’s what this looks like…

3. Present Offer and Next Steps

If the fit is right you will have a perfect opportunity to present your offer.

Essentially you’ll paint a high level picture of how you can help the buyer solve their problem and achieve the result they want.

In some situations, especially when you’ve asked the right questions and had an effective sales conversation, the buyer will be ready to accept your offer right then and there.

Other times you’ll be well positioned to make your offer and then say: “Does that sound good to you?” When the buyer responds with “Yes” you continue with “Great, I’ll put together a proposal and send that over to you tomorrow…”

If it’s clear the buyer requires more time to decide go ahead and schedule your next meeting with them.

Note: A BIG mistake some consultants make is to end a conversation with the buyer and not schedule next steps. NEVER end a meeting or call with a buyer without some agreed to next steps. It may be another call in a few days or a meeting the following week. Schedule the day and time of the next step.

If you don’t do this you’ll end up spending a great deal of time going back and forth trying to nail down another time to continue the conversation…this often results in telephone tag and voicemail vortex (yes I think I just made that up!) that you can’t seem to get out of.

The Takeaway

Remember to start your conversation focused on building rapport. Then enter an effective sales conversation by asking the right questions and focusing on value. And always, always my friend make sure that you present your offer or schedule next steps.

When you follow this outline you’ll win more business and do so faster than before.


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