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 Brand Disruption

Two word darlings.

Brand. Disruption. Either gets attention in and of itself. Together they become hard to look away from.

Do conditions make it harder to be at successful at either? Or Both?

Innovation, agility and the ability to think laterally can overcome the economy, the pandemic and the general funk in the populace at the moment.

You could have a winner

  • If a celebrity is enthusiastic about your product and endorses it, you could have a winner.
  • If a government agency intervenes in your category and comes out with new rules you could have a winner.
  • If a fan becomes a social media star and brags on your product, you just might have a winner.
  • If you figure out that your brand is packaged for the wrong market, fix that and get market buy in then you have yourself a winner.
  • If dietary changes run into a continuing desire for comfort foods and you can make them, yes you have a winner.
  • When you come up with garments that are comfortable during a pandemic lock down but still have some style you definitely have a winner
  • When you can match the attitude of your market you an kick the competition to the curb. That is a winner.

We’re all familiar with organizations that have proven to be disruptors. In retail the big box stores changed the way we do business. Amazon changed the pace of delivery across a plethora of product lines. Tesla forced big automotive companies to get real about electric cars.

Little guys get it.

They realize that it is not about them, It is about how they matter to the people they serve. When you need them, they show up. When it is time to make a difference, they do. That makes a significant difference in brand perception. It is a way of thinking more than the statistics about the company. The pandemic has caused a shift, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. Today, the 33,000 people in 28 counties around the world in their 2020 survey find that Business is now the only institution seen as competent and ethical.

Chipotle is a good example. The company was quick to offer free delivery, raise salaries and feed workers on shift. That paid off with revenue increases nearly double the competition.

Who trusts you?

I had a battery problem once when I was parked at a regional shopping center. Some kind folks helped m push start the car and I drove to an auto service operation in the shopping center, left my car running and went inside to tell them I needed one of their nationally advertised and well branded products. I could see two empty bays from where I was standing but was told I would have to make an appointment.

I declined and called a friend to follow me to the Les Schwab outlet in my area. It is an Oregon founded company that sells tires, batteries, bakes, and the service that goes with them.

They run to your car when you pull in. I did not make that up. They run every time. The gentleman that ran to my car checked out the battery, told me what a new one would cost with installation then asked if I had the old paperwork in the glove compartment. We checked and found it. He took it and then said that because the old battery was one of theirs and had two months of warranty left that he would credit that on the new battery. He changed it out and I was on my way home in twenty minutes

Service is the pelota

That stone from David’s sling that dropped Goliath was called a pelota. Roman slingers made them out of clay fired rock hard. The point here is that being turned away by the big national chain drove me to a small local company. They ran and they gave me a credit and got my trust. That kind of trust is valuable. Since that day I’ve replaced batteries on two cars and put two sets of tires on my car, my wife’s and my daughter’s.

One battery sale worth under a hundred dollars led to purchases in excess of over $5000. Lifetime value (LTV) is what builds brands for Davids. Customer service that wows the guy or gal with a problem earns their trust. Treating you like an adult and dealing with you that way builds confidence. Simply having integrity makes them memorable.

You have to hit the ground running to beat Goliath.

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, works with individuals and organizations to make them memorable, trusted and more profitable.

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 Magic Words

We’ve been meeting on Friday mornings for at least a couple years.

A Mastermind

I had attended a conference on gamifying products in the fall before Covid struck. On the last day Luthie asked, “Would you like to join a mastermind group to keep us all on track with what we’ve learned here?”

I accepted the invitation and about 10 of us started gathering. Now we’re down to 7. This morning only six of us showed up as one member is recovering from Covid.

Getting Through

Somehow we got on the subject of getting through to officials in companies in order to sell our products in the corporate market. One member noted that three times in the last three days she had been told: “E-mail doesn’t work.”

  • A friend told her that if she really wanted an answer to phone her.
  • Her son who is a music producer laughed and told her that the only way to get an answer was to text folks
  • A business associate said, “Just message ‘em on Linked In.”

It is not your choice

That’s when I jumped in. People do want to be communicated with. They just want it to be in the way they prefer. In general that is kind of a generational thing. Younger folks may not check their e-mail for days. They tend to be oriented to texting and are offended when you don’t drop everything to respond to their text messages.

I always tell clients to ask how their customers and clients want to be contacted and note that information in their file in the CRM (Contact Relationship Management software) and then use that information regularly.

Better odds

If you really want to be successful these days you need to understand what works and what doesn’t in general. Here are the options and what it takes to reach your objective:

  1. Phone is still the best direct contact vehicle for initial contact. Your chance of getting through is at the highest with this vehicle. Three things can happen:
  2. They will answer (You will need a script)
  3. Your call will go to Voice mail  (You will need a script)
  4. A gatekeeper will answer  (You will need a script)
  5. E-mail still works. You just have to know what form and frequency in order to connect. If you are like most you are enamored of the graphically based e-mail systems like Constant Contact and Mail Chimp.

Fact is that the higher the level of management you are trying to contact the more powerful an all-text message can be. Regardless of whether your e-mail is graphically enhanced or just text you may have to send it as many as 9 times to get it opened by a stranger. Scripting it is not a bad idea, especially for multiple messages.

  • Instant Messaging is a more recent option and has a strong following among millenials and FaceBook fans. Again, it does well among those that favor it but will result in minimal success if you are not sure of your target’s preferences.
  • Texting is okay if you have an established contact but it is illegal in the USA these days to text for commercial purposes.

I work with one board member that has six e-mail accounts and looks at them once a week in a good week. Text is his go to if you want to get his attention. Just like Phone and e-mail scripting it in advance is a good idea especially for repetitive touches of different prospects.

  • Linked In is a strong contender for cracking through to key prospects. You need proven scripts for each of these steps:
  • Be sure you have a connection.
  • If not, establish one noting common connections
  • Only after the connection is accepted send a message.
  • Do not sell in the initial message push for a telephone call
  • Sell only after a relationship is established

Never off the cuff.

The key to success in this business is thinking it through in advance. Start with what you are trying to accomplish. If what you are doing is repetitive this is especially important. Over the course of time we start to overlook our intent and we begin leaving out significant details that get us the business By looking at the alternatives and planning for them you don’t get thrown. By writing them down you have a reference for two purposes: honing the pitch based on real life trials and recall of what works should you have a break in doing the solicitation.

Magic words

There are magic words. They can brand you and they can begin to build trust. How you will present them will vary by the communication vehicle you are using. This video describes how 30-Second Marketing works for branding.

The words that build trust:

  • As Promised. Use this as an e-mail subject line. Use it as a way to infer approval from a referral source as in “As I promised, Name, I’m contacting you …” Use it in a text that includes data to connect with you which you agreed to send. Use it wherever you want to increase the trust the contact has in you.
  • Thank You Also a great subject line. It makes the receiver ask, “For what?” and that gets further attention on your message. Try saying it in a handwritten note sent snail mail. You will stand out because so few people do it these days.
  • How can I help? This question allows you to discuss the key problem your prospect may be having. It is particularly powerful when combined with: “If I can’t help I’ll refer you t someone who can.”

Success is all about getting to Trust. As one of my guides said:

“The wise man knows everything, The shrewd one everyone. But the single most important thing about building your business is who trusts 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 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

Consultant Marketing Stages of Success

Not everyone is a customer.

Online or in person you will meet a host of people. Some will, over time, become customers. But most will not. Many will be contacts forgotten almost as quickly as they passed through your sphere. Others will form lasting relationships with you often as just an acquaintance that “gets you.” A few will be referral sources.

All are evaluators of your brand.

Whether they are in your headlights for moment or seemingly along for the ride as you navigate the fog of building a business each has an influence on your perceived brand. That is true whether their assessment is formed from an internet experience or a candid conversation over coffee.

Networking ain’t what it used to be.

These days, due to Covid, the closest you can get without pushing the regulations is a one-to-one Zoom call. Your favorite association is meeting virtually whether it’s in your home town, nationally and even internationally. Expense accounts are no longer a major item for corporations as travel and entertainment have pretty much been eliminated.

Yet, some people still get the call.

Why?

What makes them different?

Why are they rain-makers for their firms?

Stages of Success

Certain things work whether you are meeting virtually or in person. You have to step up in order to be at the forefront when others need a solution to a problem. You have to consciously work at being the one they call.

There are stages to success:

  • Fresh New to the business or the area or to the role you fill in the organization.
  • Memorable Positioned in a way that makes it easy for folks to remember you, your name and what you do.
  • Branded People recognize your name, your organization’s mission and the positive attributes you bring to the table.
  • Tried Someone takes a chance on you, hiring you and your operation to solve a problem for them.
  • Successful You complete the project on time, on the money and with the results promised.
  • Proven Your experience and credentials have paid off for a number of clients
  • Trusted You are now the go-to guy or gal in your industry, market or geography for your expertise.
  • Promoted You are asked to speak at conferences, appear on panels, interviewed by on and off-line media.
  • Quoted Your views, based on solid data and good thinking become touchpoints in your area of expertise etched into prospects minds.
  • Unforgettable You are now in a sustainable position and could probably put your practice on cruise control but you are driven.
  • Indispensable Key clients will not make a move without consulting you.
  • Legendary Over time you have changed the way a formidable group of men and women think in and around the businesses in which you provide advice and counsel. The world you set out to change is actually changing because of you.

What stage of success are you on?

Each of us moves at our own pace. Some more quickly than others. Speed is not the gating factor. Consistency is more important. Originality is more deserving. Trust, maintained over time is critical.

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 advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

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

Consultant Marketing Synchronicity

It is Friday the 13th as I write this.

That has always been a lucky day for me. And this week has proven positive as well.

Monday, I attended my local NSA chapter monthly meeting. Virtually, of course.

One of our speakers was talking about interactive activities that could be used working virtually and taking advantage of the breakout room capability available in Zoom and other virtual meeting tools.

Rant, he said.

And rant a couple of us did. The exercise is to have someone in the meeting rant for one minute, uninterrupted, about a subject of their choice. If you haven’t thought about the subject, I guarantee you will run out of things to say quickly.

On the other hand, if you are really into a subject, if you are passionate about it, you can go on for quite a while. And you will find that you can expand on the key elements of your beliefs quite easily.

The exercise is intended to open up a closer understanding of the people “in the room” and to build engagement. It works. But more importantly it is a way for you to determine just how “into” a subject you are. It is way to fix powerful emotions on an issue in your mind. Your fervor will make you more convincing. Every time.

What Is Your Soapbox Stand?

That was the title of a blog from a Canadian Consultant friend, Charlene Norman. In it she discussed her reaction to finding a would-be local politician behind the knock on her door. She asked him, “Why should I consider you?“

That simple phrase means a lot more. It is precisely the same string of questions each one of us must answer every time we bump into a prospect:

  • Are you like me? 
  • Are your values close to mine? 
  • Are you going to fix MY problem or make MY life better? 
  • Can I trust that you will do what you say? 
  • How long will it take you to deliver what you say?
  • How much of my time do you expect from me?

Hang on. Here comes the synchronicity.

As Charlene says, “One superb way to hold attention is to take a stand.  What is the one thing you could spend hours talking about on a soapbox in a public square?  (I am not expecting you to actually do it.  I am hoping you can imagine ‘what if I could.’)

I very much doubt you can talk all day about the product or service you sell.  I highly doubt you can wax poetic for more than 10 minutes about all the ways you deliver fantastic customer service.  And I know you can’t fill more than maybe an hour with tales about your experience, your years of service and your fabulous team.”

“Every consultant has a branding problem…You gotta move
from Nobody to Somebody and do it in just 3 seconds!”
 

To be memorable you take a stand.

Taking a stand makes you both more vulnerable and more respected. The immediate change is that you have a brand impact in 3 seconds or less. Your opening words in a self-introduction can make all the difference! You stand out from your competition. And people want to engage you in conversation if they think you have a point. You also, very quickly, determine if you and the prospect are compatible.

If you are any kind of independent professional taking a stand will pay dividends for you. Clients searching for trusted advisors gravitate to truth tellers. Elite clients want to work with thought leaders.

The truth of the matter is:

“Controversial gets you heard… Proof gets you hired.”

It is all a matter of being seen, heard and, in the final analysis, trusted. We trust those who are consistent and make us think. We find them unforgettable and consider them indispensable.

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 crafting on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com   Sign up here for the Newslog!
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Virtual Virtuoso

Professional Speakers are out in front.

I don’t mean on stage but rather in figuring out how to make the most of presenting virtually.

I asked, in a “mastermind” group, “Anyone else finding that you know more about how to make virtual meetings work both in terms of technical and techniques than the folks hiring you and their experts?”

It was like dropping a match into a puddle of gasoline. First the whoosh of the gas and then a long low steady burn. The entire group whooped and then each told a story of woe. I took notes and here’s what I learned:

Live is easy. Virtual ain’t

Half of the group are Certified Speaking Professionals. The rest of us split out between  those, like me, who have been speaking professionally for over 25 years and the youngsters averaging 5 years of experience.

All of us were appearing live across the North America regularly and a few of us have presented in International venues. All of us concluded:

  • Live is easy. Virtual ain’t
  • Live interactivity is not expected
  • Virtual interactivity is a must
  • Live reaction is easily visible
  • Virtual reaction is sometimes unreadable
  • Most Meeting professionals do not comprehend the differences
  • On-site technical experts drafted for Virtual duty are not up to speed on all the capabilities and difficulties of virtual technology

Technology tips

Those of us that have now been presenting virtually since January have used most of the major video conferencing tools. Our experience adheres to the general market share pattern.

  1. Zoom 40.49%
  2. Go to Webinar 19.82%
  3. Cisco Webex 12.31%
  4. ON 24 3.51%
  5. Adobe Connect 3.38%

Each has peculiarities and each makes different demands on the presenter.

Meeting professionals who would never dream of having a keynote speaker say “Next slide please.” don’t understand that is exactly what they are doing when they do not have their technicians cede screen sharing to the speaker.

Those who plan meetings and conferences can no longer use the same sort of scheduling for their events. Sessions must be shorter because the demands on the visual cortex of watching a screen are greater than when you are in a live event. “Shorter is better in a virtual meeting” was our consensus.

To get the most out of the video conferencing platform speakers, especially non-professionals, should have a rehearsal before the event was a suggestion from one of the veterans. All agreed that programs would be more successful with this simple change.

All of us have had to deal with schedule changes. I have cut a one-hour keynote down to 32 minutes while on stage to get a meeting back on schedule. You need to make sure that you, the organizer and the technologists are all on the same page. One of the long-time professionals in our group suffered a change in scheduling that made it impossible to become interactive with an audience seeing her recorded keynote with segments built for that purpose. The technologists used multiple times for the audience to begin viewing without advising her!

Technique Tips

Any event with more than a few people in the room is show time. Virtual makes it more so. The further you can get away from the “Talking head,” the better. Here, in no particular order are suggestions to strengthen your appearance in that virtual meeting:

  • Stand up! Presenting standing up will give you better breath and voice control as well as make you more active in front of the camera.
  • Don’t be afraid to gesture. We, as humans, read body language more easily than we read facial expressions. It takes fewer of the little grey cells to understand what is being said.
  • You can move, the lens can’t. We all want to have visual cues about what is important. Even as a baby we respond to someone who “leans in.” Don’t be afraid to use that knowledge to get your point across.
  • Use hand gestures. Because you and your audience are closer to one another using the kind of gestures you would use across a desk or a table will be more easily understood than the broad gestures you might use on the platform.
  • Share your screen, briefly. That is one way to increase the interactivity and engagement in your message. But, one slide left up for more than a half minute is going to bore the audience to tears in live or virtual. But in virtual they can be gone completely and you will not know it.
  • Get interactive. Use polls, voting via gestures visible to all, having a contest with entry via the chat capability, Q&A using the chat, Breakout rooms with reports on return, team tasks in breakout rooms that may be contest oriented, Try a Karaoke choir to get everyone working together.
  • Record it in video. Yes, Use the capabilities of the platform for record purposes but understand that you want a higher level recording for promotion as the compression algorithms in the platform recording deliver a less than stellar result.

Do not be the weakest link.

Even nine months into the Pandemic there is a huge lack of knowledge in how to use the video conferencing capabilities available to us. Ask what platform is going to be used. Set up a way to communicate any program or timing changes in advance. Question everything. The success of the program depends on you.

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 advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

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

Brand:        https://brandbraintrust.com

Consultant Marketing Shaping the Quiz

Under the urge

You set out to share your knowledge and make the world a better place.

That is what lurks at the heart of consultants, coaches and all the independent professionals that provide services that assist in solving problems or providing a skill set that a client doesn’t have. The few of us that consult with consultants have heard about this dedication time and again.

If it were not for this urge a huge number of entrepreneurs would not join the work force. They would continue in their hum drum lives clocking 8 or more hours a day in a cubicle or, these days, working from home.

The world would not be a better place. But even if they decided to be a solopreneur there would be a gap between hanging out the shingle and having a steady stream of clients.

The inevitable gap

Whatever expertise is at the center of each individual’s urge to make a difference, they quickly come to the conclusion that they need to learn how to find prospects, turn them into clients and get referrals from them. They have to learn how to market and sell their services.

If they can’t fill that gap they are out of business before they start. Most, if they figure this out before announcing their new business look for advice from those they believe are successful. The appeals are varied but all come down to a small bribe to “pick your mind.”

Asking is right

That demonstrates a key element that can lead to their success. That urge to find out, to ask questions but, more importantly, to listen is a predictor.

The predictor is the ability to hear what is being said. Ever had a conversation where you are trying to get something across and a few minutes in you become aware they didn’t hear you? Or a least that is what appears to have happened. Sometimes they heard all you had to say but they pushed it through a filter and your views got skewed.

So in those mind-picking conversations I try to listen as well. And I ask questions about their suppositions as well.

The Quiz Funnel

That is what led me to develop a Quiz Funnel about Consultant Marketing. It is called [Quiz] What’s your #1 Consultant Marketing Mistake? See it here.

If you are a consultant or a coach, I urge you to take the quiz. It embodies knowledge gained by surveying people in all levels of consulting for 17 years about the marketing that works, what doesn’t and where they see things heading in the coming year.

The benefit of the funnel to anyone engaged in this business is that allows you to pick hundreds of minds at one time by simply answering 12 thought provoking questions about how you are marketing your services. It takes 3 to 5 minutes.

Based on your answers you learn the single most important mistake you are making whichever of the categories you fall into:

  • Unaccompanied—Thinking about going into the trade. Outside, looking in. Stressed as you consider whether this is the right thing to do. Sure, you’ve been thrilled when you tried it as a side hustle. But still you’re looking for answers.. Take the quiz and find out.
  • Ticket Quandry—You’ve decided that you are going to set up a practice but before you enter the fray you want to get a better handle on how to at least get some folks into the funnel. Take the Quiz and find out
  • Crack the Whip—is what it feels like when you’ve been at it successfully for a while. But there is that nagging feeling that the business is running you. You’d like to know what to do to get back into control. Take the quiz and find out.
  • Roller Coaster—can become the operating procedure in your practice whether you just started or been at for years. It’s when you market, market, market until you find a client and then do the work, do the Work, do the work. Round and round you go at breakneck speeds with no time to plan, unsure of what you can do to break the cycle. Take the quiz and find out
  • Fun House—You’re not sure. Everything is like one of those distorted mirrors. Finding new business is like working you’re way through a maze and feeling time limit encroaching on you. Frustration is at the center of your day. You’d like to know how to sort out direction and take action calmly. Take the quiz and find out.

The categories

Those designators come from listening to consultants, coaches and independent professionals across the years. The more I listened the more a vision of an amusement park grew as a way to frame the common circumstances.

The most common is Roller Coaster. Sooner or later just about every professional finds themselves clicking up the marketing first slope and then having the gravity of the situation propel them through curves they didn’t anticipate.

That was the impetus to look at the other behaviors that seemed to occur all too frequently. Unaccompanied came out of relating to the solopreneur striving to summon up the courage to hang out their shingle. I see them staring in at the amusement park nose pressed and fingers clenched on a chain link fence.

Ticket Quandry is for those that have made the leap of faith but are still feeling their way. Their quandry is the level of commitment they bring to the business. I’ve seen seasoned pros revert to this behavior when confronted with major shifts in the industry they serve. Covid has impacted many in this way.

You’ve reached the phase in your organization where business just seems to be rolling along without a lot of concern. You aren’t really working a plan to bring business in. You could picture yourself on one of those whirligig rides that starts slowly revolving, picks up speed, and then pins you in your seat. Suddenly you understand what people mean when they talk about the business running you. Crack the whip is how those that have lived it describe the problem.

The Fun House ain’t. Whether you’re a solopreneur, a partnership, an ensemble or a group every practice can fall into this situation. When business is good we tend to rein in our reviews of processes particularly marketing. Then one day you find yourself a little disconnected. Those you work with seemed to have changed. And all you want to do is find your way out of this unfamiliar territory.

You’re not alone

None of us operate at the highest level all the time. We’re human. We learn as we go. We ask for help.

Sometimes we listen.

I’ve been listening for a lot of years. What I’ve heard might help you.

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 advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

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

Brand:        https://brandbraintrust.com