At the beginning, selling yourself as a consultant can make you feel like a used car salesperson. You try to meet as many people as you can, talk up your experience, and hope that you land a contract that will give you time to find that next client and keep that revenue stream flowing.
It’s fast-paced, exhausting and, at times, can make you feel a little dirty. You may even start to question whether you have what it takes to make it in “the game”.
I have good news – you can land more clients and contracts by saying less.
How, you ask? Why, just ask more (of the right) questions!
Here are three you need to be asking:
- “Who is the lead/manager/executive responsible for this engagement?” – Find out if you’re talking to the right person. If the person you’re talking to can’t write you a cheque, you’re wasting your breath dragging out the whole dog and pony show. Mine them for information, including where the buck stops, so you can prepare your pitch for the right person the first time.
- “What is currently standing in the way of you achieving success?” – Once you’ve found the decision-maker and sussed out what they are hoping to achieve, start drilling into what they think is holding them back. The client may be totally off the mark, and you’ll need to address the real issues in your solution, but if your pitch ignores what they think are the problems, they’ll turn to someone that will fix those issues. You don’t need to be a “Yes Man” but you do need to respect the concerns of the client.
- “What is the value of this project success/implementation?” – Before you can give your client a price, which will always sound like too much to them, you need to know what the value of the solution is, and so do they. Lead them through giving you a value of the project so that you can give them a price that proves they will have a return on their investment.
$1000 for a box of 100 widgets sounds like a lot until you realize you can sell the widgets for $50 each. Now that first investment doesn’t sound so bad. As a consultant, you are a widget; prove your worth and you’ll close more often.
Add these three questions to your initial meetings with potential clients, and I’m confident you’ll be able to reduce the time wasted selling to non-buyers, dial in the perfect pitch, and never price yourself out of a deal.
Have other strategies you use? I would love to hear them!