Consultant Marketing Well Spent Weekend

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I decided to journey to the Institute of Management Consultants Conference held over last weekend in Dallas, Texas.

The Crucible

At the airport I bought a paper back to read on the flight. The title was “The Crucible” which sucked me in with, in part, this jacket copy:

“…a frantic quest for answers that are connected to mysteries reaching back to the Spanish Inquisition … What they uncover hidden deep in the past will reveal a frightening truth in the present and a future on the brink of annihilation, and force them to confront the ultimate question: What does it mean to have a soul?”

Within the book, James Rollins connects witch hunts to the wonders of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and where it is headed. Little did I know that I was getting an in-depth preview of one of the keynotes!

Late Arrival

I missed the opening keynote delivered by Alan Weiss as I decided not to go to the airport at early dark thirty. I chose a 9:45 departure which got me in town about the time Alan started speaking.  Apparently, he said some of the things I’ve heard before so it wasn’t a great loss for me.

Why did I go?

  1. To renew some old acquaintances and make some new ones.
  2. To learn what’s new
  3. To gather new contacts for my annual Consultant Marketing Survey

Old Acquaintances

That piece of art at the top of this missive came from Mark Haas. Years ago when the IMC web site was in development, I was the Marketing chair in Portland. Mark was volunteering to get the site up and working from his home office near Washington DC. Many a night we would be on the phone, me at Midnight and he at 3:00 AM. The only time we see each other in person is at these gatherings.

Ken Lizotte was speaking at this conference. We tried to figure out how we know each other and gave up after about ten minutes. Ken is the conference chair for next year. We chatted about me speaking next year and he asked me to be his sidekick in putting together the 2020 Conference in Boston. I think I dodged that bullet!

AI, AGI and ASI

AI is, of course, Artificial Intelligence. The Saturday morning keynote was delivered by David Copps, a futurist, technologist and visionary as well as a member of the Aspen Roundtable on AI among other things you might expect. He spoke of where AI is today noting things I’d read about in The Crucible including how AI will morph to AGI or Artificial General Intelligence (like Asimov’s Robots) and then to ASI, Artificial Sentient Intelligence when the AI takes on a life of its own. Mr. Copps made it clear, with specific examples that it is happening a lot faster than you think!

Serendipity is a strange thing.

New Acquaintances

Saturday, after that serendipitous keynote I joined an experiment where conference attendees could suggest topics for a series of breakouts on subjects of interest to them and then see if other also wanted to discuss. I suggested “How is Consultant Marketing Changing?”

Six people signed up and we did a roundtable on the subject. The participants ranged from a start-up to a couple of us with 20+ years of experience. I heard a lot of current and future possibilities but only one current approach I had not heard put so simply before:

“Don’t try to build a huge list. Keep track of folks that provide referrals, no more than 100 if you get that many and touch them at least once a month personally with a phone call or in person meeting. Let them know the kinds of engagements you are currently working on. Send them a monthly newsletter. Do something special just for them at least quarterly. Things like lunch or dinner, tickets to an event or sending them a book or article especially selected for them.”

I will, of course be sending all of the round table members along with a score of others that agreed the Annual Consultant Marketing Survey.

The attention span of a gold fish

Yoram Solomon, another of the keynoters cited Microsoft research that said that the human attention span had dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. The study noted that the attention span of a goldfish was 9 seconds. So if you’ve read this far, you have the attention span of at least a school of goldfish!


Yoram spoke on trust. Here are his 7 Laws of Trust:

  1. Trust is not binary. It is continuous.
  2. Trust is contextual
  3. Trust develops between every two people independently.
  4. Trust is asymmetrical.
  5. Trust is transferable.
  6. Trust is reciprocal.
  7. Trust needs two sides.

Yoram has done the research, that is why he has a PhD. I’ll leave you with this fact from his investigations:

“A trustworthy salesperson
can sell the same product or service for 29.6% higher price.”

And so it goes.
_____________________________________________________________________________

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Website Panel 1 Options

Can your home page first panel pass the three second test?

Three seconds is all you have for your brand to register with a visitor. That visitor is like a stranger you’re meeting for the first time as you’ll see in this video https://vimeo.com/351932771

The first panel on your home page must get across:

  • Who this is for
  • What problem it solves
  • How to take action

Dissecting the panel I have in development.

The navigation bar is often not streamlined to make that first glimpse as powerful as it might be. You need to have your logo up there in the upper left. Make sure it is clickable. That way you don’t have to put “Home” in the navigation.

Keep the pages listed to an absolute minimum. You can use the footer for all the wonderfulness that proves you know your stuff.

Put a call to action button at the far right. If you are lucky to catch someone at the point they are willing to make an interactive commitment you want to make it as easy as possible for them.

You’ll find I’ve followed my own advice. Here is the first option:

Option 1

Background Image is usually the first thing people see. We are, after all, visually oriented. The image should give us the idea of what the shift is like on the other side of your advice.

It is the kiss at the end of every romance movie ever. It is the celebration of a team. It is the fond hope of the target audience.

Here is the first alternate. Notice how the copy and the photo play to success.

Option 2

Headline is where things get tricky. We need to get the unique difference across in just a few words. You need to consider these things: 

  1. Awareness level of most visitors. Are they aware of the problem you solve? If not, that is part of your job here. Are they aware of solutions? If so, you may want to offer a comparison to a known solution. But if they are well along in the customer journey and already aware of your brand you need to find a way to engage more personally with them
  2. The job to be done. What, in their terms is the job they need to get done that you or your product/service might do for them. How you refer to what you do needs to be in terms of, “Here’s what you can do with our product.”
  3. What it’s worth to the prospect plays a key part in how you will be perceived. If you have a value proposition for your business this will be an integral part.

Here’s an option that might play better with women. Note how the headline has been shortened.

Option 3

Subhead is optional but I highly recommend it. It gives you the chance to add to the value of your headline, expand and define the job the product does and personalize your pitch for the target audience. The more these words come out of the situations your prospects find themselves in the stronger they will be. The more you can let them see you understand the emotional context they find themselves in the more they will be drawn to you.

Notice how the subhead has changed slightly to include the phrase “lifelong success” which is gender and age neutral as illustrated by this example:

Option 4

Call to action (CTA) After all that skull sweat to find just the right words you can’t let it go to waste. You can’t expect the visitor to know what to do if you don’t tell him/her. You don’t need to put your primary CTA on the first panel. But you do need to put at least one simple button there that is the overall action you want folks to take.

You need to give the visitor a simple mechanism to connect with you. In the case of the Master site we have button in a color contrasting from the background image with the words Arrange a Chat. That drops down to the primary home page CTA that is a form that gathers additional data about the prospect. Why? I’ve written before about “Skin in the game.” If a prospect will answer a few questions they are more likely to be someone I’d like to work with.

Here’s a tip: include a second CTA but make it not as prominent. Offer the visitor a less direct close. Give them an option.

This is glimpse into the thinking and development process I use with every website. This is just the first panel on my new site in development. Which design will I launch? Right now, I’d probably go with the old guy version. Which do you prefer?

And so it goes

_____________________________________________________________________________

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Wicked Worksheet

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How will you be remembered?

What is your legacy?  What will people say about you and your business when you are gone? If the business continues will people remark on what it did for clients? Will the name stir golden memories or just a confusion of recollections?

Why?

At the heart of every successful business, particularly a consulting business there is a reason why the organization exists. Whether you’re a solopreneur or a group with offices across the country there is a core purpose that keeps the firm alive.

But it is more than that driving force. Over time it also becomes the results achieved. Those for whom you have delivered become a tribe linked to each other by those results and the passion that drives the enterprise.

It is most commonly called your mission.

Because of the emotions involved it is difficult to state simply and clearly. One of my clients who had easily completed all the exercises and worksheets presented to her earlier said that this one was “Wicked.”

The Wicked Worksheet

The Why of your business is not easy to put into words for most consultants. The easiest way I have found to get to the WHY of a business is to start with the easier questions and work into it. Repeat until it “feels right”

  1. What one or two words describes your business or organization in terms of what it delivers?

Examples: Marketing Advice (for a consultant) Delivery (for a package service)

My What word is: ________________________________________________________

2. Add one word that says how you provide it.

Examples: Do it Yourself Marketing Advice Overnight Delivery

My How word is: _________________________________________________________

3. Add a word or phrase that tells people Where you provide it.

Examples: D-I-Y Marketing Advice in person or recorded Overnight deliveries in the USA

My Where word is: _______________________________________________________

4. Add a word or phrase that tells me Who it is for.

 Examples: Do it Yourself Marketing Advice in person or recorded for small businesses the “little guys” Overnight Delivery in the USA for businesses

My Who is: __________________________________________________________________

5. Next comes when, the need use or occasion that helps make your offering special.

Examples: Do it Yourself Marketing Advice in person or recorded for budget limited “little guys” Overnight Delivery in the USA for businesses on a deadline.

The when of my business is: ________________________________________________

6. What is important to the customer about that? ___________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

Examples: Do it Yourself Marketing Advice in person or recorded for budget limited “little guys” who need confidence to build their Business.

Overnight delivery in the USA for businesses on a deadline that need to be sure it will get there on time.

7. With that in mind sum up Why this business or organization exists in as few words as possible:

_______________________________________________________________________________

Examples: Z-axis Marketing’s Marketing Without Money TM for the little guy
Federal Express When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.

Will your Mission stand the test of time?

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com 

Consultant Marketing Mindset

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Take a hard look at the photo.

What do you see?

Me, I see a very confident young woman. My impression is that she knows who she is, has mastered some capabilities and expects you to acknowledge her expertise.

How can I get all that out of a photo?

You make your mind up about anyone, in person or in media in the first 3 seconds.

How do you want to be perceived? What do you want your personal brand to project? How do you introduce yourself? How “Real” do you come across?

Currently, there is a commercial that portrays the danger of hiring someone that is “just okay.” The series is, in part, humorous but if you want to get hired you need to be perceived as more than barely competent. As the commercials say, “Just okay is not okay.”

You need to convince four groups:

  • Your Associates
  • Your Prospects
  • Your Referral sources
  • Your clients

But first you must convince yourself

All of us fear rejection. Somewhere north of 98% of people are afraid of public speaking. Most of them would prefer death to doing “the talk.” What about less-open appearances or interactions with strangers? Not quite as death-defying but still seen by some as a disaster about to happen. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert makes no difference because just about everyone has a fear of being seen as inadequate.

Self-doubt must be erased.  

Whether you’re applying for a job, presenting in a corporate conference room or trying to get a consulting engagement over breakfast or lunch you need to be confident in your skills and how you present yourself. That 3-second judgement capability is something you can control. It is not logical. It is emotional. With powerful people it is a skill that has been carefully honed.

Overcome the impostor syndrome

All of us, on occasion, feel we are impostors. We judge ourselves more harshly than all those with whom we come into contact. The key here is to listen to the concerns and take steps to overcome them. Here are three suggestions that will allow you to stand tall, command the room and be memorable:

  1. Disconnect before the meeting. Look at yourself through the eyes of those you are interacting with—individual or group. Can they possibly know more than you do about your special expertise? It is truly doubtful. The more years of experience you have, the greater your practical knowledge. They simply don’t have the experience you’ve compiled. Do they know more about another subject or arena? Probably. But not yours.  Their view of you will be that of the inferior. Their expectation will be that you will teach them as you advise. They will incline towards respect.

Walk your talk. Let the confidence reek. They will sense it.

  • Practice positive self-talk. Do what it takes to know your audience. Check them out on social media. Understand their way of thinking based on their writings, interviews and appearances. No time to prep or a networking situation? Say, “Self, you’ve got this. You’ve thought yourself through 30-Second Marketing TM https://vimeo.com/358198046  so you know how to Hook ‘em, Hold ‘em, Pitch ‘em and Close’ em. More importantly you have honed your ability to listen, react and really be interested in them. 

  • Stop trying to close. The worst advice I’ve ever heard for a consultant is, “Close early and often.” Put yourself in the prospect’s position. They are anywhere in the process of deciding from just starting to think about it to shaking hands on an agreement. The better advice is, “Agree to work with them after they have sold themselves.”

That brings us back to erasing self-doubt. One of the best ways I know is to keep track of your successes. Prepare a case history https://vimeo.com/352835268 or success story after each engagement. Note the key outcomes. Review those files on a regular basis. If you are going into discussions in a similar industry you’ll have the facts at the ready should you need them. More importantly you’ll get the self-confidence boost you need to overcome any residual impostor syndrome. About to step into the unknown? If you follow my direction on your success stories you’ll find that your regular reviews will give you buoyant assurance in your abilities in your chosen field.  

Being at the top is a matter of mind over matter.

If you trust yourself, it shows. If you’re certain you have the experience, it becomes apparent. If you assert your convictions you will garner respect. The confident get the contract. Those with self-assurance do it again. And again, And again.

And so it goes.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

Let ’em Buy Consultant Marketing

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The e-mail from someone I’d never met pushed for the sale with the first words.

Fresh Meat

If you’re further up the food chain that e-mail was an open invitation to line up a new client. Cold calling with a hard over sales approach does not work if you are selling consulting, particularly high-end.

On line or in person any time you use direct communication you need to already have a connection or be in the process of activating one. That hard sell e-mail is, for me, a cry for help.

Let ‘em buy

The most successful sales people and consultants I have ever met gave me the same advice:

“You can’t sell anything if they don’t want to buy.”

“Stop closing! The less you close, the more successful you’ll be.”

“People buy when they’re ready not when you tell ‘em to”

“Your job is to stay connected while giving them all the info they need including the purchase agreement when they’re ready.”

“They come to your website looking for information. Give ‘em the content they’re looking for but help them buy into you as well as your approach.

Time and energy

In most cases a prospect must meet three conditions:

  • They have a problem you can solve
  • They can pay for your services
  • They are willing to talk to you

Being upfront about your rates after you’ve heard about their problem will pay you dividends both short and long term. I offer a one-hour meeting at no charge so that we can “See if we are comfortable with each other and I can get a better idea what problem they are confronting.” I usually tell them that if I can’t help I’ll recommend someone that might be of help.

Generally, the higher your fee the more you will be expected to meet at no cost. Some organizations will expect you to provide a proposal at no charge as well. Elite consultants are willing to do that if they can have at least an hour of the senior officer’s time and agreement to candidly discuss the perceived problem and the value of a solution to the company

Going retail

Smaller problems, ones that can be solved in a telephone or Zoom session or two need a slightly different approach. It is more retail oriented. Your offering can be presented in a website that is filled with information that is infused with your viewpoint. Including video of you delivering some of your advice is a positive approach.

You may want to have them pay for a session with an established hourly fee paid in advance. But you must make it as easy as possible for them to set an appointment and pay online. There are apps available that easily integrate with your web site.

If the web site visitor is interested in your services they will find your pricing page. Linking pricing and appointment apps on the same page will pay dividends.

Price Points

The price for the service offered is where consultants often go astray. It is not unusual, even in B2B negotiations for the consultant to be asked for his/her hourly rates. Consider this increasing price/value/meeting scale:

Price              Value                           Meeting description

$200/hr          Instant answers         Meeting via appointment, phone or Zoom

$200-500/hr  Report issued              In person or zoom based on geography

$1000/hr        Strategic Planning     Reports & Timelines agreed to in advance

Fixed Fee      Plan & Implement     Time required to reach solution agreed to.

Fee +Comm   Plan/Implement        Agreed solution plus additional impacts

Variables

Your kind of consulting practice will impact how you approach the market. You may tend to maintain a client relationship for months or years. In those situations, a retainer may be the better option. Or, you may be available at a specific rate just to assist in defining the problems that come up over time. Of course, engagement rates would be set separately. Top notch consultants have all kinds of inventive pricing schemes. The most inventive are lined to long-term client relationships.

And so it goes.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

Out of the Box Value

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My daughter and I (she works for the Federal Government) were talking about why the best senior managers regardless of sector are extremely valuable. I was telling her about a 3-minute video I just completed that explains why successful elite consultants set the gold standard. See the video at: https://vimeo.com/356539908

Worth their weight in gold

Managers and consultants are all carefully taught to think, feel and believe that if we can define the problem we can find a solution. The rule of thumb is that solutions reduce costs and increase profits regardless of the kind of resources being considered.

That’s true as far as it goes. It’s a nice comfortable little box.

The best think outside the box

Manager or consultant they demand a sit down with the woman or man in charge, a discovery meeting. They start with an open mind, candidly discuss the visible problem identified by the CEO and ask questions to establish the value of the solution. Elite consultants take it one step further. They add recommendations above and beyond the requested solution to add value to their engagement.

The value-based proposal

Top notch consultants take their time in that discovery meeting. They have the CEO estimate the value of a solution to the visible problem and probe for additional concerns and valuations during the discussion. They get concise agreement on the objectives, how they will be measured as well as quantitative and qualitative impacts of the results. The elite consultant’s intent is to be able to base their fee on the outcome of the engagement in the CEO’s terms.

Their proposal will include three options:

  • Option 1 must satisfy the objectives.
  • Option 2 is more comprehensive (and includes option 1)
  • Option 3 incorporates partnering with the firm to include hands on implementation or overseeing the implementation.

Perception, not a problem

A CEOs job is to keep the company ahead of the curve, see into the future and sense the possible disruptions out there. What if she or he just has a niggling feeling about a potential future problem, or better still an opportunity that is on the horizon? That represents a challenge for most managers not to mention consultants. The CEO wants to get a resolution on the uncertainty. She or he wants to quantify it and then look at the actions required to achieve it or defend from it.

The quantification proposal

Once again you must begin with a discovery meeting. Together, you and the CEO must assess the perceived discontinuity. Two concerns drive the selection of the consultant to handle this kind of engagement:

  1. A successful track record with this client (to include a couple flashes of brilliance and out of the box thinking).
  2. Experience in an industry or a credential in science or engineering that is perceived to have knowledge to bring to this research.

If you are in the room you need to verify which reason brought you there. More importantly, you need to let that reason drive how you build your proposal. Your proposal must identify the objectives, how they will be satisfied and a specific time frame to do so. If you believe that expertise you don’t have is required you must explain how you will find it and how you will engage it. To the degree possible, you must provide a statement of how the information obtained will be evaluated. You may also want to consider how to implement or oversee implementation.

A solution, no problem

Working with elite consultants can prove educational. Recently a client challenged my definition of a Prospect:

“A prospect is someone with a problem you can solve, who has the funds to pay you and is willing to talk to you.”

He said, Every CEO or President or business owner wants more profits, right?” I agreed. He went on, “I’ve stumbled onto something in my consulting over the last few years. It is a solution without a problem. I need a way to describe it and a way to convince CEOs to just have a conversation about it.”

Hidden in plain sight

Yes, for me this idea was outside my comfort zone. For starters the urgency of the problem is not inherent in this situation. You don’t even have a niggling possibility causing concern for the CEO. But, as we strove to build a product description more meaningful and to apply the techniques of 30-Second Marketing TM , I reflected on the testimonials I had videotaped from clients where this process was put in place and realized it was proven thinking outside the box that could only be developed by someone with business acumen and experience that had psychological training.

The Shared Passion Proposal

The key to greater profits, even in a down economy, is hidden in plain sight in every company that has employees. Employees, approached properly can in a relatively short time develop a passion for the business that builds profits long term. The essence of that proposal is, for the moment, a trade secret but I’ve interviewed the men and women that have applied the process in their organizations. Greater dollar profits are the tip of the iceberg in the world of the Millenials.

And so it goes.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

Consultant Marketing Appointment Setting

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Stop for the count

Before you add that appointment setter to your web site stop and look at the number of times you are asked to set an appointment.

Make it easy on yourself. Look at the last week or month. Compile four lists: Clients, Prospects, Referral Sources, Trusted Advisors and Unknowns:

  • Clients—These are the folks you are working with now. You have a key contact in each organization. There may be others in the organization that want to meet with you but if you have no relationship as yet they are not a client. They could be a Prospect, a Referral Source and infrequently a Trusted Advisor. Until you clarify their status they are Unknown.
  • Prospects – are the people you have identified as someone who can hire you, has the funds to pay you and has a problem they believe you can solve. If they don’t meet those requirements the probability of an engagement is nil. It is possible they could be a referral source or a trusted advisor but in truth they are a unknown until you talk to them.
  • Referral Sources – can come from a meeting, speech or publication. But if you are like most consultants the Pareto rule is in full effect. Eighty percent of your referrals come from 20% of your clients, client alumni or known referral sources.
  • Trusted Advisors —are the professionals you refer to clients or prospects. You trust them to deliver their capabilities for you and whoever you steer to them. These are folks that will call you for a meeting.
  • Unknowns —are just that. You need to clarify their status in your connections hierarchy before you decide what to do.

Direct versus Digital

I’ve yet to meet an elite consultant or one that wants to be that has sufficient inbound interest to need a Digital appointment setter. The only number from the above count that matters is Prospects. There are independent professional practices that could use an appointment setter. Possibilities include Financial Planners, Insurance providers, Real Estate agents, Dentists and so on. But in the B2B world that is not a problem.

Prospect age is a factor

Younger people (under 35) prefer to keep a digital distance from suppliers. They tend to be transaction rather than relation oriented. They are uncomfortable telephoning to set a meeting preferring instead to text or use an appointment setter on a web site. They will defer direct contact as long as possible.

Position makes a difference

If you are targeting the C-suite, you need to put yourself in the place of that corporate officer. Their normal journey to come to the conclusion to talk to you looks like this:

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Why senior officers follow that path.

It’s lonely at the top. Often there is no one on the staff that is thinking far enough in advance to see the problems that a CEO may identify. She or he may have colleagues in similar positions or in the same industry that are considering what is coming. They may have suggestions as to who might be able to help. That CEO can learn a great deal about you by reviewing your web site. If what they see intrigues them they may request more information. They will review what you provide, vet your testimonials and the results. Then, because they don’t waste time they will call you. In smaller companies they will call you direct. Larger firms my have an assistant call to set an appointment at your convenience. The point is they will call you. They will not go back to your web site to use an appointment setter.

The missed connection argument is not valid

Providers of the appointment software will tell you that you are missing opportunities. That is true for organizations that target transactional appointments but is not valid if your business is dependent on the relationships you establish and engagements that may extend over years.

Keep your calendar at hand

Answer every call and be prepared to make that discovery appointment. You’ll spend less on software and get significantly better results.

And so it goes…

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com this,t)}}

Consultant Marketing List Building

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You snooze, you lose.

Something got lost between the Rollodex, the CRM (Contact Relationship Management) software and the growth of the internet generations.

People seem to have become a lot more transactional. They have given up the power in the connectivity of relational networking.

Relational vs Transactional

I’ve been speaking and writing about networking as a business development tool since 1990. Early on, someone asked me what the best “style” of networking might be. Here’s how I replied in an Article called Pearl Diving:

“Network. Just don’t try to turn that contact into a contract on the spot. It won’t work. We’ve all met people that try that. They glide up to you like a shark, ask a question, talk through your response with a rapid fire commercial, tell you to call them and then they’re gone. In their view, they are networking. Those predatory types just don’t understand the difference between transactional and relational networking.

Transactional networkers want to score now. They are driven to pin down a prospect, get the job or close the deal. They have no time for anything else. They see networking as just one more form of manipulation. Leads groups that penalize members for failure to produce prospects fall into this category, as do the tactics employed by some multilevel marketing organizations.

There is a place for transactions, but it is never on a first meeting. And in most cases it will come much later in the sequence. Tit for Tat Transitional Networking does not scale. The best networkers understand that Networking is the establishment of a relationship.

Relational networkers aren’t interested in what you might be worth to them. They are always more curious about you as a person. They consistently ask how they can be of help to you rather than the other way around. They maintain the contact out of regard for you, not a need to cash in on the contact.”

The power of the list

I advise elite consultants on the marketing they need to build already successful businesses. All have a list of clients, prospects, referral sources, trusted advisors (for themselves and others) and other resources pending Trust evaluations.

The numbers on the lists vary and may be scattered across the world depending on the geographic scope of the consultant’s business. For instance, if you need to initiate a change in a government or multinational I can tell you who to call. That trusted resource is headquartered in Singapore. Need software to revolutionize the speed of managing your business? I can connect you with the president here in North America or the founder in Australia.

In most cases the extremely successful do not have huge lists. If you sell product on line you need to continually expand your list or you need to offer new products of value on a regular basis. But if your business is primarily one to one B2B your list may be relatively small. My current clients have combined lists of no more than 500. They continually add prospects and referral sources but the best apply one measure you should consider.

Meet them before classifying them.

You can add folks to your list in these ways:

  • Speaking—all those folks that want to talk after you step down from the platform and be added to your blog and/or newsletter list if they agree to that. Meet with them before you classify them as a prospect or referral source.
  • Networking—at industry events, again with their permission. Before you go past your blog and newsletter try to meet with them on a more personal basis.
  • Social Networking Connections—to include Linked In, FaceBook, BeBee and any other that provides a profile and allows you to connect with them. Before you start adding folks willy-nilly be sure you have a solid description of the demographics and psychographics of your target addition in mind. Again, get permission before you add them to your blog and/or newsletter list. I recommend that you limit your on-line list development primarily to prospects and that you count on it taking longer than you expected.
  • Introductions—either in person or on-line from referral sources or a relational networker. Always get their permission to put them on your blog and newsletter lists. If you think they are worth pursuing as a prospect, add them to that list. Could they be a referral source or a resource? You decide.
  • Face to Face—prospects introduced by referral sources should be added to the blog and newsletter list almost automatically. If you are meeting with them as a result of speaking or networking you will need to decide whether to put them in your prospect or referral source or resource list.

Keeping track of them

There is no question that the digital world has more efficiency than the old rollodex. The question is how much of that capability do you need?

Excel or other Spreadsheet programs are quite sufficient for some small or highly specialized organizations. That is good for maintaining the list. You’ll need to have calendar program as well to assure you can schedule follow up.

Manual CRM system sounds like an oxymoron but if you are really dealing with a small target number it can make sense. I designed a manual system for a client specializing in Gallium Arsenide chips that had a total of only 26 prospects. It worked. He sold his process and retired.

Digital CRM software can be added to your computer as a standalone or cloud based. Your practice or business size and the number of people that will require access to the data can significantly impact your choices. That, plus the capabilities of the software to deliver blogs or newsletters and other marketing materials, should be considered.

E-mail Programs like Constant Contact and Mail Chimp make it easy to build and e-mail your newsletter as well as keep track of your lists. One of my clients decided to forego a blog opting to send his guidance filled newsletter on weekends. Midweek he sends a mini-update including a new video. His opens average 25.3% on a list that is exclusively c-suite.

Automated Marketing? Yes, It can be done but do you need it? Do you need to trigger actions based on time elapsed or actions taken? Can you build out a funnel that will guide the prospect to a sale based on their situation? (That is a whole blog by itself)

Your list is the second most important part of your business.

The most important is you. If you are a solopreneur the knowledge you bring to the equation is why the business succeeds. If you are an entrepreneur working with a team, your ideas and processes are the intellectual property that makes the business possible. Whether you provide a product or service without your list you can’t make sales over time.

And so it goes.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

Consultant Marketing Billing Choices

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What’s your hourly rate?

Too often, when the choice is made by an entrepreneur to become a consultant, the decision to bill time for services is made with little or no thought. Prospects assume you will invoice them showing the time spent on each task you addresed.

An hourly rate is not the only option.

You are being paid for your:

  • Knowledge
  • Capability
  • Speed

You would not have been considered for the engagement if you didn’t have one or more of those as assessed by the client. You have what they don’t. You can do what an employee practiced in the art could do if only they had one. You offer a solution to a problem they have which they cannot solve on their own.

Your approach is part of the equation.

Availability is part of the value perceived by the prospect. There are experts in every arena but the more complex and esoteric the field the fewer are available with associated higher rates. The possible approaches range from done for the client to hands on tactical implementation to strategic advice to ongoing counsel.

Results factor in to what you can charge

Never forget that you are helping to sort out a problem and that the results you deliver, the ones you agreed to in your proposal, are how you are going to be judged. That’s why you should shift to value-based proposals as soon as possible using the prospects valuation of the work you propose to do.

Options to consider

  1. Hourly rates Tried and True. Doesn’t have to be explained other than a justification for the rate. When I speak it translates to an hourly rate of at least $7500. Do I charge that for consulting? No. But there are times I could.
  2. Fee for Task is a common way to provide a comparative rate linked to a specific task. Example: Agreement to build a basic web site consisting of a specific number of pages for a specific amount.
  3. Tactical Implementation Management Charge This is commonly used when a combination of coaching, training and oversight is required to get staff in an organization to adopt a new way of doing things. The consultant manages the process and can, to some extent, control the time to results.
  4. Retainer This can work for limited time engagements but is a marvelous way to extend a relationship. It allows a great deal of latitude in proposals and agreements and simplifies invoicing. The best part is that you can set it up to bill in advance.
  5. Commission on Results When you and a client agree on the results you are seeking in the proposal phase you can reach agreement on what part of the results you deliver will be your payment. If the result of your activities generates an additional $100,000 in income for the client, a commission of up to 30% is not untoward.

How do you decide?

First: Wrap your mind around the idea that you are an expert. Now build on that by maintaining your level of knowledge in your specialty. Monitor information online about it (set up Google Alerts). Attend industry conferences. Get involved with educating the industry. Never overlook applications of your industry knowledge in other industries. Over time migrate your expertise to the upper echelons of expertise in the industry,

Second: Never assume that there is only one way to get paid for your work. Think about combining one or more or the options above. Or take payment in another way. I negotiated an agreement once that included a stock award (for time at a specific rate) above a preset monthly contract. That stock was worth $4Million when the company went public.

Third: Simplify your agreements so that you can’t be held hostage by clients. This is why I recommend the retainer and use it as my primary choice. I still consider stock as partial payment in some cases. I will look at commissions on results but now I add a twist either requesting 50% in advance or placing the full commission in an escroll account. The 50% in advance is the easier sale and can be positioned in such a way that it is viewed as a standard engagement agreement based on a value-based proposal where the client generated the “results number.”

Overall stop operating on autopilot.

Look at all the options before you write that proposal and agreement. Be non-traditional but be sure you believe in what you are saying. Be prepared to alter your offer but veer away from collecting minute by minute accounting of what you are delivering. Be prepared to walk away if the prospect demands to be billed in any way that is not what you are proposing.

Make sense? Tell me your favorite compensation approach. If we don’t shake things up, who will?

And so it goes.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

Consultant Marketing Prospect Profile

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Take your revenue stream up a notch

Wouldn’t you be more comfortable if you had an ongoing revenue stream that let you:

  • Serve the kinds of clients you enjoy working with
  • Do the kinds of engagements that are satisfying
  • Have time to enjoy life a little more.

Over about 50 years consulting and coaching I’ve learned to improve your stats you need to do some sort of mundane stuff to make the shift. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Track your current engagement data (time, revenue and costs)You’ll find more at https://www.bebee.com/producer/@jerry-fletcher/consultant-marketing-eye-on-the-money
  2. Target prospects similar to your preferred clients
  3. Take action to be seen, heard, remembered and perceived as a trusted expert.

Yes, it is about the money

Periodically you need to review the time spent and the revenue generated by your activity. That means plotting your actual revenue against what it took to earn it. If you don’t track both, how are you going to know?

Look hard at the clients you like working with that pay their bills on time, provide referrals and you’d like to clone. Before you go charging off after new business be sure you have a complete profile of both the individual prospect and his/her company with a complete comparison to your preferred client/company profile.

The people assessment

This is a process that works for me and has proven to be effective with the elite consultants I work with on three continents. You’ll need a sheet of paper you can work on in landscape orientation. At the top write MY PROSPECT PICK’R. To set up your worksheet drop down a line or two and put in these column headings:

 Client Company      Primary Contact  Repeat?

Step 1.  Jot down your clients for the last 5 years, or if you are new to this, as long as you’ve been in business. Note the client company and the individual you worked with.

Step 2.  To the right of the names, if you’d like to work with them again (regardless of the reasons) write Yes. If not, just line them out but keep your record as we may need to analyze your reasons why and what it would take to put them in the “Yes” column.

Step 3.  Add some facts about your engagement(s) with the “Yes” clients. Specifically under these column headings: Engagement  Length Time Revenue Cost Outcome. The length is the number of weeks/months. Time is the actual time you’ve spent working on the project.

Revenue is the revenue generated by that engagement. Cost is your non-reimbursed expenses associated with that assignment. Outcome is a measurement of the shift in client performance.

Now your worksheet should look like this (with examples):

Step 4.  I have not included the extended data on those I marked “No” even though one was on retainer for $1000 a month in excess of 13 months and the other generated over $50,000 in six months as well as a stock position in the company.

The first was because the client just wouldn’t pull the trigger. The latter was because the venture capitalists proved to be pain where a pill won’t reach.

Now comes the hard part Even if you said “Yes” you need to look at time versus revenue less costs and calculate actual income. Sometimes you like a client so much you don’t charge them for all the time you’re spending. Sometimes the challenge is so fascinating that helping them resolve it is a huge psychological boost.

At the bottom of the worksheet you need to prepare three assessments:

Assessment 1. Client company

Look at size (employees, sales, revenue), industry (size and direction), longevity, management (strengths, weaknesses and intent), ownership. Be clear on where this company is in terms of its development. Is it a start up? Is it struggling to grow? Has the pace of growth caused problems?

Assessment 2. Client Contact

This is the person who hired you and you report to. The higher the level the better. Owner, President and CEO or COO are the titles that have the most clout. Note that in larger organizations Division Managers might be able to hire you. For each of the client contacts look at demographics and psychographics. Look for similarities. Underline them.

Assessment 3. The Ideal Prospect

What is it about those you designated with a “Yes” that caused that gut reaction? Write it down. Now look back at the revenue. Is there cause for you to reject or not chase a similar organization and contact because the income isn’t there? Should you look at your rates or how you charge clients to find a better way?

Can you define the prospect that could become your next ideal client now?

Here’s a word portrait of my ideal client (more at www.JerryFletcher.com):

Entrepreneurs and Singular Consultants
You’re one of the best at what you do but not enough people know that.
You know you need Consultant Marketing and a Brand but are not sure how to take yours up a notch. You know that to be successful you must be remembered. You’re looking for a way to build referrals and operating on a tight budget without a lot of time to put into your marketing. You’re tired of being told what to do and want help with the how.

And so it goes.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com