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Monday, January 14, 2013

Video Newsletter - January 2013

We’ve posted our 27th newsletter! In this month’s video newsletter:

When the inevitable happens, don't panic!  Here's our advice on how to best handle the stickiest situations.  

Make sure you can work with the main team before your assignment begins.  There are several things you need to clear up before you get started!

If you aren’t on our newsletter mailing list, go check out our newsletters and sign up!  You can view all of our newsletters in our newsletter archives.

Monday, January 7, 2013

More on Trust Partnerships

For us, the objective is to work with CEOs or senior executives.  For you it may not always start out that way, but you should be trying to make that connection if you havent already.

Think about CEO and senior executives.  Can they go to their boards or bosses and easily say Im worried, or scared, and Im not sure what I should do?   Nope. Not usually.   It can get pretty lonely.  But could a consultant who has become a trusted thought partner play an important role?  Could playing that role as a collaborator with a senior executive be of value for the consultant?  You bet!!

Well tell you exactly what it could mean.  More projects, in more areas of the clients business.  A relationship where you are part of his team, not an outsider, or the dreaded vendor.  A relationship where you are viewed as an integral part of their success, and not a temporary evil.

In our video, “Polarizing Yourself From Your Competition: The Ultimate Competitive Advantage”, we discuss HOW to get those senior level relationships.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Getting Client Testimonials

Client testimonials can be a very valuable part of your marketing materials and internet marketing efforts.  What your clients say about you speaks louder than anything you can say about yourself. 

Like referrals, you get testimonials by asking for them.  We have had success getting testimonials using an email to ask for them.  We tell our clients (current and past) that we are developing new marketing materials and want to use testimonials from clients in them. 

Tell them that you would greatly appreciate it if they would write a few sentences about the value they gained from working with you. 

Give them options on how you will ascribe their testimonial to them.  Let them opt for full name and title, or just first name and last initial.  Some people are uncomfortable using their full name, but in our experience most of them are very willing to allow you to use their full name and title.

Insert testimonials in any marketing materials you develop and on your website. 

We want to make a caveat regarding testimonials.  While we think they are a good idea for your marketing efforts, we have no direct evidence that proves they will bring you more business.   We utilize many marketing techniques that we have learned in our study of internet marketing.  Internet marketing experts say that testimonials are a requirement.  So, we use them.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Video Newsletter - December 2012

We’ve posted our 26th newsletter! In this month’s video newsletter:

Be prepared for your biggest supporters to at some point become your detractors.  Expect it and react appropriately!

Rich talks about why you shouldn't take just any project  that is offered... and how to determine which things you should say yes to.

If you aren’t on our newsletter mailing list, go check out our newsletters and sign up!  You can view all of our newsletters in our newsletter archives.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Getting High Value Client Referrals

Ok, here comes the big secret for getting high value client referralsAsk!  It really is just about that simple.  Your client trusts you, you given them great value, they want to help you.  Give them the opportunity by asking for a referral.

Being strategic about when you ask can help, of course.  The ideal time to ask for a referral is towards the end of a successful project.  Your value is fresh in your clients mind and because you have not finished the project yet, you have numerous opportunities to ask for the referral as part of wider ranging conversation with your client. 

How you ask is also important:

o      Tell them how much you value and appreciate your relationship with them.  Dont be solicitous, just be straightforward about how you feel.

o     Tell them that it is important that you continue to grow your business and that one of the most effective ways to grow is from referrals from existing clients.

o      Tell them that you would like to meet people that they respect because you want to work with more people like them.

o      Tell them that you would greatly appreciate a referral to colleagues of theirs that they believe would benefit from meeting you.  Emphasize that the referral does not necessarily need to be someone who they think currently has a problem that they need help with.  If you let them think that it will narrow the group of possible referrals. 

o     Tell them that the referral can happen a couple of ways:
o      They can contact the person and introduce you and ask them to expect a call from you
o      They can contact the person and suggest that they contact you

o      Assure them that you will not push to sell to their colleague.  Let them know that your objective is to meet them to learn about their business and begin to get to know each other.

Dont get discouraged if you dont get a referral the first time you ask.  Sometimes the timing just isnt right or they just got too busy.  Plan to follow up on your referral request every 3 to 4 months. 

Ask for referrals from all of your clients.  Some of your clients are more impressive than others.  It is natural to assume that the more impressive your client is the more impressive their colleagues will be.  You may be inclined not to ask for referrals from your more mediocre clients.  In our experience this would be a mistake.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Selling by Not Selling

To be a successful consultant you have to find clients that will pay you.  Sure, this sounds like you have to sell, but you really dont.  Many people who talk to us about either becoming a consultant or growing the consulting practice they already have express a concern about their ability to sell.  They say they are afraid to sell, or simply dont like to do it. 

For all of them and you too here is some good news; nobody likes to be sold to.  So, lets do away with the whole concept of selling.  It connotes convincing someone to give you money for something that they dont think they want. 

Instead of spending a lot of time (and stressful time at that!) selling the traditional way we want you to focus on building a trust relationship with your clients and prospective clients.  All of the techniques and perspectives we discussed in the earlier section on collaborative consulting are designed to create that trust relationship. 

You simply do not have to push hard to convince someone to retain you for a project.  As a matter of fact pushing does exactly what the word implies; it pushes people away from you.  Weve been operating this way for a very long time, but we still occasionally make mistakes.

One of the most common questions we get about selling, How do I overcome resistance?  It is easy, dont try to overcome the resistance. 

Remember that you are not trying to sell a product and then move on.  You are establishing a long-term trust relationship.  This requires a very different type of selling than the traditional approach of doing whatever it takes to get them to say yes.

A meeting with a client or prospective client is not a time to directly sell.  Instead it is a time about learning and engaging in wide ranging conversation about the clients business. From that basis, your client or prospective client will start looking for ways to get you involved in their work.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Your most valuable marketing technique

Having an existing client refer you to a colleague of theirs is one of the most valuable marketing techniques available to you to grow your business.  Over the years the vast majority of our business has come from client referrals.

If you are new to consulting referrals can still work for you.  Just substitute a former boss or colleague in the position of a current client and the referral process can work for you just as effectively. 

There are a number of reasons that client referrals are so valuable:

o     Presuming that your current client meets your Client Unique Success Profile (to learn more about Client Unique Success Profiles, visit here) it is highly probable that colleagues they trust also will meet your CUSP.  Immediately, you have a highly qualified prospective client.

o      Because the prospective client trusts your client, the referral is one positive step towards establishing your trust relationship with the prospective client.

o      Referrals are efficient.  They take very little of your time to reach a qualified prospective client.

o      Referrals begin to establish your polarization from the mass of consultants in the marketplace.   Youre special because someone they trust referred you.

Considering how valuable referrals can be to your business, dont be afraid to ask!  You never know what gold you can unearth with just an ask.  In our next post well talk about how we do it.