Consultant Marketing Game Change

Change is the heart of consulting.

Without change we would be out of a job. Change is perceived by clients as a problem and they go looking for someone to solve it with expertise or experience they don’t have. We wind up working with them for a single engagement or, over time, for either multiple, linked engagements or just providing services in a single expertise on an ongoing basis.

Most of my interactions with clients are in the latter category. I tend to stay with clients for a while. I’ve worked with a current client now for over 25 years, celebrated a ten-year anniversary with one and I’m coming up on 3 years with another.

I still do singular encounters when I believe I can be of real assistance within the client’s time frame. I’ve come to the conclusion that Contact Relationship Management is no longer an arena I want to work in. Why? Management doesn’t understand it and more importantly does not understand that tasking sales-people with upkeep is a losing proposition.

For the future

I’m shifting my emphasis so that I will offer these services:

  • Marketing Consulting for consultants and coaches (Solopreneurs, Partnerships and Ensembles short and long term)
  • Strategic Marketing Counsel for entrepreneurs and start-ups
  • Speaking on topics that make individuals and organizations more memorable and more profitable. (Keynotes, Breakouts and Trainings for associations and businesses)
  • NEW Products that offer quick and easy branding, positioning and sales development. Example: Consultant Brandr for Linked In which allows you to inject your brand into your Linked In Profile in just one evening.
  • NEW The Credibillity to Cash Junto (named for the group Ben Franklin formed– a continuing conversation about establishing and maintaining your six-figure practice—a mastermind group limited to just 8 consultants that want to take their business up a notch.

Proven Publishing

That means I will continue publishing information on what works and what doesn’t in Marketing in general and consulting in particular.

Blogs I intend to publish blogs both in the USA and internationally on a regular basis every two weeks at a minimum. The topic will continue to be Consultant Marketing and will cover subjects from Practice Management  to promos, PR and Premiums. The emphasis will continue to be branding across all the media available and how to move from suspect to prospect to client.

The Newslog, newly named Credibility to Cash will continue on a weekly basis. The new version will have the same information in an article, a video and an audio as requested by the current recipients. The first quarter for 2022 is in production now

The annual Consultant Marketing Survey is now in the field. This year’s results report will be available by New Year’s day! Sorry, no results tabulated as yet so I can’t provide a single finding! And yes, we will do it again next year.

Speak your Way to Business Riches A step-by-step guide to Get Booked, Get Heard and Build Your Business is in first draft. Look for it as a print on demand book from Amazon about the end of the first quarter. (Junto members and Newslog subscribers may receive webinar invitations as well as chapters in PDFs prior to publication)

 In all we do in the coming year, the emphasis will be on showing you how to move from Credibility to Cash.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s speaker demo reel.

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

Credibility to Cash TM is his latest way to share experiences so you can take your business up a notch…or two Sign up for the unique audio/video/article Newslog here.

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

Consultant Marketing Solo DoubleTrouble

You made the break.

You decided to put your consulting career on the front burner. You decided that it is time to make that side hustle your full-time job.

Two considerations.

You need to think about two things that will make or break you. I’ll bet neither have managed to tap you on the shoulder so far. If you’re like most, you are too excited by the potential in front of you to consider these factors. Those important items that are eluding you are:

  • Team
  • Technology

Before you marshal your arguments, listen to my tale of woe.

Team

The crew you work with was probably assigned to you. Or, rather, you were assigned to it. As your career progressed you were moved from team to team. You may have decided to change companies but once again you were assigned to a team. With experience you were moved more and more into leadership but seldom if ever did you select the people on your team. At best you took on the responsibility of selecting individuals from within the organization to put into teams.

Now you are engaged in building a company. Any business coach or attorney will tell you that you need to have a business entity. No matter what form of business you decide on and no matter what title you assume, you, for the first time possibly, will be the one calling the shots. You will Have to think about teams differently.

Solos don’t have teams

That was my contention until a client pointed out that I had a group of suppliers that I worked with all the time. We were comfortable handling projects together, each of us doing what was needed, each connecting seamlessly to get things done, each a solid member of the unit that wasn’t formal but still functioned by any measure as a team.

Even then I still held that the best thinking came from individuals not teams. I cited all the geniuses of the arts and some of the discoveries in the sciences as “obvious examples”.

 Not long after that I was trying to convince the man who has now been a client for a decade that moving from doing turnarounds as a CEO or COO to Leadership and Management Consulting was significantly different and that he did not have a team in place to handle the shift.

Teams can trump persuasion.

I pointed out that That when you have C-suit initials as your title, employees have to follow your orders. They may resist, citing long standing team approaches, but long  term they must acquiesce. As a consultant you don’t have that power. You have to convince, persuade, cajole and sway them in any way you can to be effective. And the team you have in place whether they work for you full time or on a 1099 can and will impact your efficiency.

Nobody can do it all alone.

 At least not the ones I’ve come across. That was a hard lesson. It took me over 20 years to figure it out. And I was still left with a hole in my knowledge of how to select, build and lead teams starting from scratch. Like a lot of people I searched for answers. I had worried my way through just about every assessment tool you can imagine starting as a beta tester on an early one back when I worked in Denver.

Technology wasn’t the answer.

There were a couple problems with the assessments:

  1. The person you were evaluating had to take the assessment for you to get any kind of real fix on them.
  2. The training requires that you use the labels assigned by the assessment on a daily continuing basis to use it to your greatest advantage.

I found very quickly that I had to become some sort of new millennium astrologer to begin to get any use out of all the time I’d put in studying the assessments. Unfortunately my Mars in retrograde got wrapped around the axle of the conflicting moons and I found myself fizzling out dodging detritus circling Saturn even if I had the code for a people connection.

Maybe their Why is the answer.

I learned of a new piece of Software the other day. It is called the WHYos and will introduce on November 15. I went to the WhyTechnology website to learn more. I tried the free trial and in a matter of minutes was rewarded with the assessment’s view of my Why.

“Why” is associated with Simon Sinek.

He wrote a book called Start with Why back in 2009. He may be better known for a TED talk which can be seen here. He made the world cognizant of what made some individuals and organizations stand out from others. Because of Simon Sinek, a dentist in Texas began searching for software that would allow him to optimize his why.

Dr. Gary Sanchez’s WHY is to find a better way and share it.  HOW he does that is by making things clear and easy to understand.  WHAT he brings is simple solutions to help people move forward. He and his Team have worked with hundreds of thousands of individuals, as well as thousands of companies from small yoga studios to Fortune 500 Companies helping them get clear, stand out and play bigger. 

I didn’t know I was looking for that piece of software.

But I was.

I didn’t realize what a difference it could make.

Now I do. I tested it.

I was never quite sure what drew me to trying to find a better way in everything I do.

Now I understand.

Why.os is changing my life.

It will change my product launching December 15 called Linked In Brandr which guides you step-by-step to inject brand into your Linked In profile in just one evening. It will make it possible to base your brand on your why. The product was good before. Now it is great.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s speaker demo reel.

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

Credibility to Cash TM is his latest way to share experiences so you can take your business up a notch…or two. Sign up for the unique audio/video/article Newslog here.

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

Consultant Marketing A More Powerful Pitch

Featured

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It amazes me every time. Coach oriented selling eliminates proposals.

You figure that a consultant would know about and use a Value-Based Presentation.

Only a handful do, the ones that have been around for a while and those bold enough to study some of the masters of selling services. It’s like the refrain from a song in the musical South Pacific, “You have to be carefully taught.” Fewer still are trained in coach-oriented selling.

Most consultants aren’t trained in sales. They are babes in the woods when it comes to the psychology of the deal. Better pitches are built with better knowledge of what a lot of folks today call : “the customer journey.”

Start with a peek at the customer map.

They had a problem or concern about their business. They spoke with friends and colleagues about how to solve it. They queried trusted advisors for names of experts that might help them. With a handful of names they turned to Linked In to review profiles of the candidates to be considered further. They narrowed the search to no more than three. At that point they probably looked at your website to get more of an idea of how you work and to get a glimpse of the expertise you bring to the situation.

Make it easy to meet.

They are still evaluating when they call you to arrange a meeting. They want to get to know you. You are one of at most three candidates. Setting an appointment for what is to them a major concern is probably best made in person. Make sure they can contact you direct, not through an appointment setting app. But if you do use such an app, give them the possibility of stating why they want to talk. What may seem to be dull normal for you is the biggest thing in their world to them. So when that in noted I should be a trigger for you to call them.

The first meeting is all about discovery.

It is a conversation not a commercial. You need to acknowledge their expertise. They will always be more expert in their business than you. Always. Partner with them in a thought-provoking process that allows them to act in away that draws on their experience and your support ot find a way to act. Let them set the agenda. Your mission whether you accept it or not is to do four things:

  1. Engage
  2. Focus
  3. Evoke
  4. Plan

Engage

Establish a mutually trusting relationship based on genuine interest in their situation.

Listen. Focus on their goals, their expectations and why those things are important to them.

Questions you might use:

  • What are your successes?
  • Where are you challenged?
  • What od you know about our work?
  • How do you think we can help?

Focus

Your goal is to collaborate with the prospect, describe the desired outcomes and determine a way forward.

Questions that will allow you to reach common ground:

  • What is most important to you and your organization?
  • What outcome do you expect from our working together?
  • How do you see us working together?
  • What would this mean for the organization?
  • What will it cost if you do nothing?

Strive to define the problem concisely in concrete terms. It is best to zero in on a key single priority.

Evoke

Start by searching for strategies that could solve the problem at hand. Brainstorm some possibilities. Before you suggest an approach ask permission to give them advice.

Helpful queries:

  • What ideas have occurred to you to address this situation?
  • Are there corporate resources you can bring to bear?
  • Have you seen or heard of something that worked in the past that we could put to work here?
  • If forced to come up with one idea, what would it be?
  • What would you do if failure wasn’t an option?

Plan

What you are looking to do now is ascertain if the prospect is ready to move forward and become client. You are not closing. You are merely testing the waters.

Try asking:

  • What are you willing to commit to now?
  • Is there a first step that would be agreeable to you?
  • When can you assemble your team?
  • What’s your timeframe?
  • What are you willing to invest?

At this point, a prospect may ask you to begin an engagement or demur. If they are not asking you to get to work circle back. Engage them. Focus on their view of the problem. Help them imagine a positive resolution and see once more if they are ready to plan.

Some of the most successful consultants use this approach to begin ongoing relationships with clients. Although the information gathered can be used for a Value-based Proposal often the client will forgo that prerequisite just ot get to work now.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s speaker demo reel.

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

Credibility to Cash TM is his latest way to share experiences so you can take your business up a notch…or two.

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

Consultant Marketing Credibility Index

Featured

What is your credibility index?

If you are a consultant it is a pretty good bet that you have a profile on Linked In.

How credible does that profile make you to your prospects? Here’s a simple way to evaluate that will take just minutes.

What to consider.

People, I’ve been told, do not give you a lot of time when they come across your information on any page on the internet. The last research I saw said you have 3 seconds to get their attention and brand yourself. Three seconds!

So you have to first stop them and once you’ve done that maintain their interest and provide the information they are looking for. Here’s the short list of considerations:

  • Stopping Power
  • Maintaining Interest
  • Answering their Questions

Let’s take those one at a time.

Stopping Power

If your Linked In profile looks like this you are in trouble:

We live in a visual world. If you want to stop people you need to take advantage of every bit of visual stopping power Linked In offers. The absolute minimum is a headshot. Consider also:

  1. Using the first panel of your website home page as the background.
  2. A photo in the background that shows you in action.
  3. A photo in the background that shows product(s) you are associated with.
  4. The addition of your company logo to that background
  5. Your name in that background.
  6. A positioning line in that background (like a headline)
  7. Combinations of the above.

Maintaining interest

Why are they searching on Linked In? In all likelihood, someone gave them your name or they came across it looking for an expert in a specific industry or they have heard about a specific skillset you have. You have to speak to their concerns and interests in their terms in order to keep them in your profile.

Your name Start with your name. Use the name you are known by amongst colleagues and people that might refer you. Do not use an initial for your last name. Initials are okay, however, if you regularly use them. If folks call you DJ or JJ or BZ then use that moniker but include your last name.

Your title Since most consultants are independent professionals operating as solos (nearly 70% in our last survey) you can call yourself anything you like. But instead of massaging your ego consider what that prospect is looking for. Do you think they want one of the “normal” titles like President or CEO? Research shows that they want more of a positioning statement that fits with the expertise they are looking for. You have space to use a positioning line, a generic/industry descriptor for what you do and a normal title.

Here’s an example from one of my clients:

Answering Their Questions Whatever brought them to your Linked In profile in the first place will now come front and center. You stopped them with professional looking graphics. You intrigued them with a positioning line that will get them to read further.

There are different approaches prospects take from this point on. Some will read everything on your profile. Others will say, “That’s who I was looking for, How do I get in contact?”  As consultants we know the men and women who have the clout to hire us don’t have a lot of time. So why do so many consultants make it so hard to contact them?

There is a reason the words Contact Us are in blue. Unless you’ve been kidnapped and held incommunicado for a decade you know that clicking on that phrase will get you a way to contact the profile owner.

Yes and no. In a random check of that capability I found that 90% of the profiles did not include a telephone number. Many of them had only the Linked In Profile listed. You need to make it as easy as possible to contact you. Prospects want to know how to connect NOW

Here is what Jim includes:

What you say on your profile is important but these three things will make you one of the few that stand out.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s speaker demo reel.

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

Credibility to Cash TM is his latest way to share experiences so you can take your business up a notch…or two.

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

Consultant Marketing Diving In

Are you thinking of bailing out of a full-time job to start a consulting business?

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Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane isn’t a good thing to do on a whim. On the other hand with a little pre-planning it can prove to be exhilarating. I’ve known folks that parachute from airplanes that were airborne in the Military and those that just wanted to check off a thrill on their bucket list.

Both took a lot of precautions. But the bucket listers all enjoyed it more.

What do you need to consider when you are taking that side hustle to full time? How do you get from unknown to memorable. More importantly what does it take to become Credible?

How do you go from Credibility to Cash?  

  • Stay real, honest and authentic
  • Scrupulously avoid individuals and organizations that are not trustworthy.
  • Pay it forward. Practice relational networking not transactional.
  • Never stop adding to your expertise.
  • Tell it like it is (even when your view is different from the “common view”).

People hire consultants, not companies.

Too often this is overlooked. The new consultant is so intent on becoming a branded entity that they overlook this simple fact. Really big companies may hire consultants by their company name but mid-level and below organizations are looking for experts and look for them by name. If you want to have a fancy name and elegant logo that is fine but sooner or later you will find that if prospects remember your company name it will be associated with your name.

In other words, if you are an independent professional of any kind such as a consultant or coach, you might as well append your name to your company name because your clients and prospects are going to do so whether you like it or not. Your name adds credibility and that credibility leads to cash

Trust is the single most important business development attribute.

Having enough in the grouch bag (reserve funds) can help you with this. If you are not extremely concerned with providing for you and yours it is easier to stay on the straight and narrow. You find that you have the ability to say, ”No” to those deals that just don’t smell right. You will be able to be genuine and be plainspoken. Yes, your expertise is important. The connections you generate via networking can lead to being considered for engagements. The folks you add to your CRM (your list) become, in a way, investments. You invest your time and capabilities in them and they return the favor. Over time you will find that who you know is not as important as who trusts you. Your credibility, the trust you have generated leads to cash.

People are like Pearls.

Years ago I wrote a blog that likened the friends, associates and colleagues each of us has to pearls strung together into a magnificent necklace. If you think of your contacts that way you will want to show them off. That is what relational networking is all about. Transactional Networkers tend to look for tit for tat exchanges. They are much more about “What have you done for me lately?”

Relational networkers pay it forward. They refer the experts they know to fill a client or prospect’s needs. They constantly seek out opportunities for those they believe in. It pays off. Their credibility as a referral source leads to more assignments and better cash flow.

Know it all or at least more than others.

It is called lifelong learning in some circles. Continuous learning fuels creativity and innovation, helping the learners use their knowledge and skills in meaningful ways. The more you know about your area of expertise the easier it will be for you to diagnose situations and prescribe courses of action that will get to a positive resolution.

But don’t limit yourself to only your specialty. Explore subjects that are just to the side of it. Look into things that might have no connection at all. Because of the way our brains are wired those seemingly unrelated areas of interest generate connections that lead to creative connections. Challenging the little grey cells can make you more believable and inspire prospects to cash in on your unique abilities.

Controversial gets you seen. Results get you paid.

People respond to what is different. They actively seek out better solutions that are positioned and identified in ways that make them stand out from the crowd. Being controversial in your writings, speeches and other public appearances will get you noticed. A portion of the people that can hire you will listen in depth. Others will not. Both will have become aware of you in a way that is memorable.

Get the outcome stipulated in an engagement and you will earn the testimony of a satisfied client. Do a joint presentation with her or him at an industry gathering and you will generate another circle of admirers. Like dropping a rock in the water you will cause a small wave to press outward leaving a recognition of your knowledge. Each time your insight is touched your credibility increases. The more prospects that hear about your approach, find it ingenious yet plainspoken, the more will engage you.

And so it goes

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s speaker demo reel.

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

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

Learn more about Credibility to Cash. Subscribe to Jerry’s Newslog.

Consultant Marketing Elite Rage

When you’re that good you expect to be treated with deference.

You get used to people taking your word as the expert.

You won’t admit it but it feels good to have that ego polishing occur.

That expectation may be misinformed.

I work with elite consultants who, if they don’t have a strong sense of humility, can find themselves angry at potential clients who don’t display sufficient acceptance of the thought leader’s elevated position as he or she observes it in the actions of satisfied clients.

Men display this trait more than women.

It comes up when I’m asked to look at their communications efforts because:

  • “The phone isn’t ringing”
  • “I have concrete results but nobody believes them.”
  • “I’m as good as any Olympic coach but there are no medals for the work we do.”

Elites walk a fine line.

They get used to being the hero and coming up with ways to affect changes in organizations and individuals, changes that literally makeover lives they are touching. They are so engaged In that place of esteem, extreme trust and nearly religious fervor that they forget that strangers don’t see them that way.

Rage is a way to keep an ego from shattering. And it is a way to cope if the rage is directed at getting the disappointment off one’s chest with a coach that understands what is going on. If it is used as a way to begin building humility, all the better.

It is all about them I say.

It is not about you dear elite. It is about the people and companies you can impact with your processes and trainings and ways to change the way your clients think. It is all about them. Marketing is all about finding more of the kinds of folks that are similar to the clients you have worked with. It is all about finding a way to begin a relationship with real potential.

Usually I pull an old ad from my files. Md Graw Hill placed it many times starting in, I believe, 1958. The copy is as powerful and appropriate today as it was then:

”I don’t know who you are.

I don’t know your company.

I don’t Know your company’s product.

I don’t know what your company stands for.

I don’t know your company’s customers.

I don’t know your company’s record.

I don’t know your company’s reputation.

Now, what was it you wanted to sell me?”

They are strangers.

Why expect them to treat you like those you have an ongoing relationship with?

Why would you believe they are already sold on you?

How can you expect then to touch a forelock and bend a knee?

They don’t trust you.

If they don’t find you on Linked In, you don’t exist.

If your web site home page doesn’t position you and your services in 3 seconds, they are gone.

If you don’t publish regularly (written verbal or video) you may not have anything worthy of attention in their view.

If your clients won’t speak up for you should I bother looking into your services?

If you are not willing and actually eager to talk to them they can’t accept the outcomes you claim.

Credibility to Cash

What prospects think, feel and believe about you and your offer begins with you acknowledging that you are strangers. Even though human beings lean toward trust, they are suspicious. So everything you do must add to your cumulative credibility score with them. If you are controversial to get attention, you need to back up your views with cogent arguments. If you are an acknowledged expert in an industry you need to seek out industries with similar problems to work your magic.

Put your ego on hold.

The most important thing is to always remember that you have to help them on the journey from stranger to believer. Every action you take should be done with that in mind. Every action.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc.
See Jerry’s speaker demo reel.

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

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

Consultant Marketing Discovery Meeting

The Dance

where you sit down with a prospect and learn about her/his operation and get to ask questions from which you will develop a proposal.

You need to have this conversation whether you write a simple agreement or an in-depth three tier Value-based proposal. So that we are on the same page, Here’s what I believe should be included in a Value Based Proposal:

  • Statement of the situation
  • Objectives of the engagement
  • Measurement–outcomes that indicate success
  • Value to the prospect
  • Methodology and Options
  • Option 1 Project Advisor
  • Option 2 Market Expansion Advisor
  • Option 3 Trusted Advisor
  • Terms and Conditions

Meeting name

Don’t call it a Discovery meeting or chat or whatever. Put yourself in the position of the  prospect. To her or him, Discovery sounds like a scientific examination. It doesn’t sound friendly at all. Better words will be more neutral. For instance, consider:

  • Informational Get Together
  • Outcomes Conversation
  • Compatibility Chat
  • Get acquainted Discussion

Regardless of what you end up calling it, Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to elicit hard data in the prospect’s terms that will allow you to present three options that have higher outcomes for the prospect’s business as well as increased income for you.

For Starters

Start by determining the primary problem that has caused them to consider your services. I find that it is best to be direct. Ask questions like: What is the problem or concern that caused you to want to talk? In most cases the answer will be that some metric in the sales equation is off. Often this is a narrow view. Be sure to ascertain sufficient background information about the industry and cyclical changes to put the symptom in context. In addition it wise these days to look into disruptions by indirect competitors.

You are preparing a tripe tier Value Based Proposal. You need to have the prospect isolate the out come if this problem is solved. Ask, “What would it mean if we solved this problem?” You need an answer in terms of:

  • Savings
  • Increased Revenues or income
  • Outcome for individual or department or company
  • How it would present to those involved

Becoming unforgettable

Now that you know what would satisfy the primary concern you can probe for data that will help you move from memorable to unforgettable. That happens because you don’t stop with the symptom. You work with the prospect to determine root causes and other problems generated by the primary. You delve into comments you let slide by as they told you about the situation in general. You explore any comment that you believe is causing an unwanted outcome.

If they didn’t give you a long-term goal, get one now. If they were uncomfortable talking about any part of the operation, now is the time to ask. With many people once they have told you the big problem in their view, they will relax. Here is a string of questions that allow you to go deeper:

  1. How did you get started?
  2. Have things changed much since then?
  3. How does that impact the company today?
  4. What about in the future?
  5. What are you doing about it?
  6. How have the costs shifted because of that?
  7. What would it be worth to you if we could solve that?

The information that battery of questions generates will give you what you need to write Option 2 as well as have greater clarity for the situation, objectives, Measurement and Value.

Headed for indispensable

Each of us learn in the course of an engagement. We naturally become more conditioned to the client’s business. We acquire additional expertise in the industry and markets in which the client participates. That knowledge plus the intimate knowledge gained of the client business combined with your capability to see the patterns and think outside the box make it easy to become an ongoing advisor, planner and implementer.

That, unless deeper problems or concerns surface, is the essence of the third tier proposal which makes the consultant a member of the team on an ongoing basis.

Are there other questions? Of course. This is a conversation where you are gathering information.

Do not sell.

You can comment that you have worked with similar situations. You can agree to tell all about those but at a later date. You can admit if something is new but always suggest it sounds similar to something in your experience.

This interview is about getting as much information as you can from the prospect as possible. Often, the astuteness of your question will bring the client to the point they want to get started.

Resist the urge to give them a quote on the spot. Tell them that you want to really step back and look at what they have told you. Tell them they will have your proposal shortly and it will have your best thinking on how to proceed.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

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

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

Consultant Marketing Pillow Talk

If you’re lucky.

Not everyone has a partner outside the business they can talk to candidly about how it is going. For the majority of consultants who are solopreneurs the only chance they have is when they are comfortably esconced in bed with that special person. If married the mate can be the sounding board. In a long term relationship you can share with the one you’re with.

Triumphs and tragedies

The need to share the triumphs and the tragedies can grab hold of you at any time. The desire to take someone else along on the journey can be overwhelming.  We don’t want to be alone.  Our egos are always looking for praise. That causes problems.

Hitches, glitches and snags

  1. The loner brain dump       This occurs when an expert consultant happens to be a solo in her/his practice, home life and social life.  The need to vent or share a victory builds up until without warning the brain dump begins. It can ruin a date or dinner with friends or a special occasion like a wedding. If the one unloading their latest client experience is lucky they will be considered merely offensive.
  2. The honey pot         If you are into spy fiction or reality this one is obvious. In order to perform industrial espionage a person of the consultant’s sexual partner preference is introduced. They practice their sexual wiles on the unwitting counselor becoming the willing listener to all the woes, trials tribulations and triumphs in order to get the secret to the client’s success. It ain’t pretty but it has been working for eons. The more solo the consultant the more effective this approach can be.
  3. The one for the road         Our ill-fated expert advisor puts a real hitch into his or her git-a-long by agreeing to just one more drink before heading off to a well-deserved rest. After that conviviality she or he “opens up” and the next thing you know a trademarked process is drawn and annotated on the closest napkin. It happens. And the worst part is our guide may not recall blurting out the methodology or special ingredient or whatever secret should have remained so.
  4. Another Client’s shoulder           This is possibly the worst. The need to share engages when our erstwhile expert is engaged with another client. It doesn’t matter whether the information being shared is positive, negative, secret or common knowledge. The problem is the effect on the client receiving the remarks. How would you feel about someone sharing private information with you? Would you be concerned about what you have provided the consultant in confidence?
  5. Ego boosting events         These can take on many guises. The common denominator is the combination of public attention and a bit of ego massage. For instance, the interviewer in a pod cast asks how you accomplished a turnaround for a client or what process was used to save multiple clients. You overlook confidentiality because it feels good. It feels good when a reporter seem intrigued by your answer so you add more details. A national outlet calls you to get confirmation for a story they are working on but you go further than a yes or no in your answer.  You see the public aspect as good advertising and your ego appreciates being preened so you stick around to get groomed a little more.

Forewarned is forearmed

Some of us are inherently close mouthed, have solid ethics and just cannot comprehend behaving in such a way. But not all of us. That’s why the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) has a 15 point code of ethics.

This discussion deals with item 5.0 which is:

I will treat appropriately all confidential client information that is not public knowledge, take reasonable steps to prevent it from access by unauthorized people, and will not take advantage of proprietary or privileged information, either for use by myself, the client’s firm, or another client, without the client’s permission.

Notice that it provides you with a way to be able to share the data with client permission.

Here are some ways you can make that wok to everyone’s advantage:

  • Joint presentation at an industry event.
  • Joint appearance on a panel at a conference
  • Joint interview by a media outlet
  • Publish a case history or success story approved by the client
  • Record a video testimonial from your client and put it on your website
  • Invite your client to lunch with a prospect and allow him/her to present the particulars of the engagement.
  • Make that client’s story an approved part of your next book

Losses count, too.

And don’t forget the losses. Many times those are just as important as the wins. When a client demands a process or procedure or approach you know won’t work based on your experience it is a significantly more powerful argument to try another way if you can cite an example that refutes the prospects preference.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

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

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

Consultant Marketing Trust Factor

I’ve been asked to speak on Trust 4 times between now and the end of April.

I’ll be sharing information that has remained timeless along with research findings being updated now.

A Fortune Cookie

I speak on Trust because of a Fortune Cookie. After a successful morning presentation, the promoter and I decided to have lunch at a Chinese restaurant nearby. After the meal they brough us fortune cookies.

My fortune was: “The wise man knows everything, the shrewd one, everyone.”

Michael pushed his glasses down his nose. Looked over them and said, “That’s good as far as it goes.”

I’ve never forgotten his next words:

“What you know is important, who you know can make a difference…but the single most important thing in building a business is who trusts you.”

Who do you trust?

Like many business owners you immediately think of your professional advisors:

  • Accountant
  • Attorney
  • Bookkeeper

Like Michael said, “That’s good as far as it goes.” But like so many things it shows that we are oriented to who we trust rather than who trusts us. It’s natural. It’s human. But it is not the foundation of your business.

Who trusts you?

Over the years, I’ve found that there are four folks that must trust you in order for you to be successful. Here they are in order of importance in the New Normal.

  1. Yourself. Second guessing yourself all the time will get you nowhere. Listening to that little voice that whispers doubt in your ear will keep you from getting things done. Trust yourself to figure things out. Trust yourself to make a plan. Trust yourself to take action.
  2. Your Team. If you’re a manager that means both the management team you are a part of and your direct reports. Not a manager? It is the group of folks you work with all the time which may or may not be designated as a team. Your team includes all the folks that get credit when the job is done, the objective reached, or the product is delivered.
  3. Your Company.  Own it? Trust is essential. Just a hired hand? Trust improves outcomes. Trust lowers your stress and makes you more productive. (Stay tuned for hard numbers)
  4. Your Customer. No business can succeed without customer trust. That is true whether the business is a product, a service or a combination of the two. Customers will go the extra mile for you event to the point of not purchasing a competitive product to wait for yours with the same capabilities. 

In today’s world of social media positive comments can maintain a reputation over time. Customer trust can give a company momentum like never before. Public reviews can turn an unknown organization into a rising star overnight.

Business Trust Statistics

85% of Americans are likely to stick with a business during a brand crisis if it has a history of being transparent.

67% Agree, “A good reputation may get me to try a product, but unless I come to trust the company behind the product, I will stop buying it.”

64% of consumers globally are belief driven buyers. This means they are willing to buy or boycott a brand because of its position on social or political issues.

The bottom line.

I was fortunate enough to meet Tony Simons of Cornell University just as his book, The Integrity Dividend was being published. In it he describes how he conducted interviews with the staff at 76 different locations of a hotel chain. Tony had the staff rate managers on six different trust factors. He found that where managers were rated highest the increase in revenue was $250,000 a year. 

The oxytocin kicker.

Paul Zak, Neuroscientist, is the author of Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies. He identified these eight key management behaviors that stimulate Oxytocin production and generate Trust:

  1. Recognize Excellence
  2. Induce “challenge stress” to intensify focus and strengthen social connections
  3. Give people discretion in how they do their work. After they are trained, allow them to execute projects in their own way.
  4. Enable job crafting (choice of projects by the employee)
  5. Share information broadly (corporate goals, strategies and tactics)
  6. Intentionally build relationships (for everyone involved)
  7. Facilitate whole person growth
  8. Show vulnerability (asking for help is the sign of a secure leader)

High trust versus low trust

Here’s what Zak and his researchers found:

Work performance High=106% more energy 76% more engaged 50% more productive

Loyalty High= 50% more will stay a year, 88% more recommend as a place to work

Job Satisfaction High= 60% more enjoyed job, 70% more were aligned with the company purpose 40% less burnout reported

Overall, high trust companies have employees that are more productive and innovative.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

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

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

Consultant Marketing Focus

I was in the Army. I should have learned then. I didn’t.

I volunteered.

It wasn’t like I hadn’t done it before. That was years ago for the organization. A whole new set of officers had come and gone for the local chapter of a national organization. The only one I knew from before is the current chapter president. They had no one in the Marketing director slot and I could tell from the communications that the President was drowning.

I said I would build a strategic marketing plan and supervise the tactical implementation on the agreement that my Virtual assistant would be paid for the work I would ask her to do to get the organization on a scheduled basis.

A simple question

I asked in an e-mail, “Do we have a web site, an e-mail service and a way to register people for events and any social media that the chapter uses?”

Sounds simple, right? Should take a yes or no and if yes than a time to connect in a phone call to convey the username and password.

Should is the operative word. There was no website so I was asked to join the President on a Zoom call. I listened as he connected with GoDaddy to get a cheap web site that would be sufficient to the chapter’s needs. That took two hours between explaining why a personal site would not work, waiting for a connection to GoDaddy and his exploration of how to save money by using personal credits.

Stop writing in code!

He agreed to send me the connection details (User name and Password) for the new web site, Mail Chimp and EventBrite accounts as well as the social media accounts. I agreed to take part of my Sunday evening to begin work on the web site. I could not get into the site to begin the design process.  The information he had sent was minus one letter in the password. Rather than call him after 10:00 PM on a Sunday I sent an e-mail stating the problem.

The following morning he sent an entirely different password. That didn’t work either. I decided to call him, request the data and try it while I had him on the phone. He insisted on sending me e-mails in a kind of code and then talking me through how to decode the information to get into the applications. Two hours later I had the basic information I needed. Then we started on the same merry go round for social media. Somehow he set up a new twitter account while we working through decoding how to get into the Linked In and Facebook accounts.

Can I hire you?

He asked me that as we were wrapping up Having spent nearly a day’s time total just getting to the point where I can begin to try to straighten things out, You can understand why I was hesitant to respond.

I queried his reasons for asking. His practice has declined and he has lost some clients and some he was assisting in succession/buyout were slowed because of the Covid.Pandemic.

He noted that his volunteer position in the chapter was eating a lot of his time.

There was a long silence when I told him my absolute minimum fee and noted that I worked only with a handful of elite consultants on a retainer basis.

Focus I said.

  1. “You let me worry about marketing the chapter. Forget it until you get a plan from me to evaluate.
  2. Shift your attention to assuring your paying clients are getting the service they expect and then some.
  3. Pick up the phone and call past satisfied clients. The script you should use is:
  4. I’m just checking in to make sure you have your plans in place as we go into 2021
  5. If not, you know I understand your busines from our past work together. I may be able to help you get to answers more quickly.
  6. Glad all is going well. I have some time available right now. Is there anyone you know that I could help? I’d appreciate a referral.
  7. Sounds like an interesting situation. Why don’t you invite them to lunch on me with the two of us or a joint Zoom call if we can’t get together because of Covid regulations.
  8. Let your former client talk about how you deal with the kind of problems the referral has.
  9. When he or she has made it clear you can handle the situation, suggest that you meet with the referral source at his/her office to gather the information it will take for you to put together a value-based proposal

Focus

Never forget consulting is a business. No matter how much you want to help people. No matter how much you want to change the world. No matter how good volunteering makes you feel. You still have to pay the bills. You still have to get results. The outcome of your efforts needs to be a net gain in revenues as well as social capital.

If you’re time isn’t sellin’ out your practice is shellin’ out..

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

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

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