When meeting a new potential customer for your consulting business, a few sentences can make or break the likelihood of doing business together.
One wrong step and you’re out.
This is why, preparing for that “moment of truth” is very important, as it allows you to increase your chances of landing a new client and selling your services at a good price.
The thing is that sometimes - due to the spontaneity of the interaction - it’s not possible to follow a particular pitch structure or attempt to say something which is pre-rehearsed. If you do that you may end up sounding too sales-oriented and lose appeal.
You don’t want to risk sounding like every other consultant, ready to talk prices at the first opportunity.
It’s much easier to simply bear in mind two or three main ideas that can help you manage the conversation effectively and present your services in the most persuasive way possible.
This is why in this post, we’ve compiled a simple list of three essential pieces of advice you can bear in mind the next time you are meeting a new client.
With no further ado, let’s dive into the topic.
#1 Don’t spend too much time talking, instead listen.
The first piece of advice is simple.
Just listen to what your prospective client is telling you.
You don’t have to talk much to show that you are prepared on a particular topic, or how experienced you are at tackling a business challenge. Just showing interest and displaying an ability to actively listen can really impress your client.
There is no way you can know more about your client’s business than the owner an employee does, and it’s important to show humility, as in someone who needs to really collect the information before being able to express an opinion.
Simply focus on collecting information, rather than talking about how great you are, or how many other businesses you’ve helped.
If you are able to show active listening skills and are able to ask a few appropriate questions here and there your client will fully understand your preparation and will be willing to tell you more.
Let the client do the talking, you just focus on understanding if the client is a good match for you and whether you really feel you can help him\her.
Once you have absorbed enough information and once you have fully understood the situation, then you can voice your opinions.
But wait, there’s a way to do that as well, and we’ll discuss it in our next section.
#2 Don’t make assumptions, ask questions and diagnose.
As soon as you have collected just enough information, it is easy to fall into a trap. The trap consists in providing your prospective client with a simple, easy fix.
This happens often because in consulting we all have a simple “method” and we may risk applying that same methodology, or solution to problems that are actually very different from each other.
The fact is that there are no easy fixes, business owners and managers need to go through extensive processes to even change a small detail of a company’s strategy. What may look like an easy fix for you, is a lengthy process for them.
Moreover, it can be often the case that a consultant makes the rookie mistake of thinking they can get a customer’s problem figured out in the span of a quick conversation. That is very unlikely to be the case.
Any big or small consulting service needs to be based on a clear and in-depth understanding of the business, and in this type of analysis, there is no room for assumption. Whenever we’re missing a piece of the puzzle, we tend to fill that information with some sort of preconceived notion of what is usually the case.
This ends up leading you in the wrong direction, and away from the actual understanding of the problem.
If instead, you want to make an actual diagnosis, you’ll have to ask a lot more questions and really go over the multiple variables that have to do with a specific problem.
Only by respecting a clear and structured process of inquiry, you can actually collect all the data you may need.
Moreover, you will avoid providing an unfounded, simplistic solution, to what may very well be a much more complicated issue.
Great. If you got here, then you have understood your client’s needs and have gathered valuable data to estimate the nature and size of the problem.
In the next paragraph, we’ll see what you should consider as you approach the closing of the deal.
#3 Offer a service in terms of investment and not in terms of cost.
When it comes to the final round, you will have to make some sort of pitch to state your price and seal the deal.
The fact is that in this stage you want to make sure you’re getting paid what is due for the services you’ll be providing. However, this is risky, as coming up with a price “out of the blue” can ruin all the hard work done so far.
At this stage, presenting your fee with no context will put you in a difficult position.
You could be asking too much or too little, and your client may not understand what criteria you have used to make the price.
A good rule of thumb when making a price is not presenting your services as a cost but as an investment.
No one wants to add costs to their business, but investments are a different story.
In order to understand how to present your services as an investment, you first need to be able to estimate how much money will your customer make if he\she is able to fix the problem.
Only when you have a ballpark understanding of the money your client could make from a successful consulting project, then you can charge a portion of that monetary gain and make the offer, really valuable for your client.
By following this approach, you’d be making a price based on each client’s profit potential, which makes a lot of sense, as you’d be charging more to those who have more to gain from your expertise.
Great! Now that we’ve covered all three pieces of advice, let’s move to our conclusive remarks.
There you have it! In this post, we’ve covered three essential tips to help you land your next customer, by simply changing the way you frame your pitch.
It’s these small details that make a big difference, and there’s always more to learn when it comes to communicating your value effectively.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to sell your services to new customers who are eager to work with you, here’s a book we recommend reading:Oversubscribed: How To Get People Lining Up To Do Business With You
Moreover, don’t hesitate to explore our blog, where we’re providing a wealth of material on interpersonal communication and sales. Enjoy!