How to Get Better At Saying “No”

Learning-to-say-no-in-business

Your kindness and generosity can be a great threat to your business.

As your business becomes more successful, as your career rises to new heights, you start getting a LOT of requests from people…

The better you get at saying “No” the more productive you’ll be and the faster you’ll reach your goals.

…friends, colleagues, people that read your materials or saw you speak at an event…all kinds of people start asking you for “just a few minutes of your time” to help them. To answer their questions. To show them what they need to do to become successful.

You may be inclined to say “Yes” to everyone that makes this request.

If that’s the case, you may be hurting yourself and your business more than you think.

It Feels Good

I consider myself a kind and generous person. I often go out of my way to help others. I do it because it feels good to help.

At the same time, if I took a few minutes to respond to every single request I get I’d literally have no time left in the day for productive work – work that moves my business forward.

We all face distractions throughout the day. Those of us that learn to eliminate as many of those distractions as possible get the most done.

That’s why the most prolific authors can write a book in less than 6 weeks – while it takes others a year or more. It’s not that the first author is a ‘better’ writer. It’s because they know how to manage their time and focus on writing without letting other distractions creep in. Continue Reading

4 Ways to Get Closer to Your Clients

Closer-to-Clients

I recently read an article by Roy Osing, the former Executive VP of Telus, a large Canadian telecommunications company.

Roy made some great points in his article in BIV and so I wanted to share them with you.

By focusing on your current clients you can better serve them, have them spend more with you and generate more referrals.

#1 – Mass markets don’t exist anymore. “Marketers need to focus on what makes people different from one another to attract their attention and entice them to buy.”

#2 – Don’t push your products or services to make a sale. Instead, Osing says “No one appreciates getting products shoved down their throat with little regard for their personal space.” Akin to Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing, Osing suggests “If you want to push anything, push value.” What he means here is think about what value and education you can offer to your ideal clients and push and promote that. Don’t lead with your sales talk.

#3 – Get closer to your clients. Most people misunderstand marketing. Spend the majority of your time catering to your current clients. Provide them with more value. Don’t dedicate all your resources to landing new clients only. Osing says most acquisition programs are flawed. He offers an example from Telus’ market, “‘Leave your present company and come over to us and we will give you a 46-inch LED TV’ propositions are common place. These programs have two serious downfalls. First, to someone who moves to a company for a free TV will definitely go elsewhere for a better offer. Second, the loyal customer who doesn’t qualify for the free TV will be furious and start looking for another supplier.” Continue Reading

Become a Standout Consultant

I just finished watching Seth Godin walk off stage.

He gave a great presentation.

Parts of it I’d seen before yet it’s always great to see him speak in person.

One of the lessons he shared that stood out in my mind isn’t a new one. In fact, he wrote about it in his 2011 book “We Are All Weird.”

It’s an important concept and one that continues to become more and more relevant with each year.

I believe it’s especially important that consultants take notice of it.

1
As the above chart shows (via 27gen.com), back in 1955 the vast majority of people would be considered ‘Normal’.

This includes your ideal clients and most buyers of consulting services. If you were marketing back then you would focus your efforts on this great ‘normal’ majority.

As time went on the bell curve start to flatten out and by 1975 the ‘normal’ majority was seeing a significant decrease. As Seth Godin put it, there were more “WEIRD” people.

2

This increase of smaller market segments made marketing to each segment a lot more attractive. The market was growing…and still is.

By 2011, the original ‘normal’ group has gone from majority to minority or close to it. Marketing is no longer about muscle and forcing messages on people. Continue Reading

Why You Can Become a Consultant at Any Age

Never-Too-Late-To-Start

One of the great things about becoming a consultant is that you can take the step at any age.

I’ve heard all the complaints, concerns and excuses…

“I’m too young. No one will listen to me…” and “I’m too old, everyone is younger than me…”

Here’s the thing, we can all come up with reasons for why we won’t succeed. What we’re really doing is trying to mask our fear.

The question you really need to be asking yourself is am I confident that I can provide value and results to the marketplace?

As you can see from the image above from Funders and Founders, some of the most successful brands and companies were started by people that some might consider “too old” to ‘start a business’.

I consulted for Billion dollar companies when I was in my early twenties as I wrote about in this article.

Consulting At Any Age

You can consult at any age because real clients, serious buyers, don’t care about your age.

They don’t care about your race, culture or gender.

They only care about one thing…

…and that one thing levels the playing field for all. Continue Reading

5 Stages of Successful Meetings for Consultants

Successful-Consulting-Meetings

Do you want to make the most of your time and gain the best result from every meeting you have with a prospective client?

You don’t want to make your initial questions too specific. Let the buyer talk so you can learn more about the real problems they are having.

I’ve always found it helpful to follow a simple framework for meetings. Let me share it with you:

Stage 1 – Get the conversation going, also known as “small-talk” – keep it relevant and to a topic that you know your buyer enjoys or has an interest in. Don’t talk about yourself, ask some questions about them.

Stage 2 – Ask an opening question that focuses on the reason you’re there. For example, if the buyer is looking to increase sales, you might get things going by asking “So Tony, when we talked last, you mentioned that you want to increase your sales by 10% this quarter, tell me more about that…?”

You don’t want to make your initial questions too specific. Let the buyer talk so you can learn more about the real problems they are having. Continue Reading

Why Some Consultants Struggle to Get Clients While Others Succeed

How-You-Market-Yourself

He got me thinking.

I was out for a morning walk. The sun warming the cold street and keeping the wind at bay.

It doesn’t matter what situation or country you’re in, or what industry you serve. Figure out what you need to do to reach the level of success you want and take action on it.

He was sitting on the ground about 10 meters in front of me.

His hat lay on the ground about a half meter in front of him. It contained a few coins. Just enough to look like someone had contributed them but I could tell he’d put them in himself to encourage others to give him money.

His position was relaxed. He didn’t try to get my attention. It seemed as though he’d already decided how successful his day would be.

A few blocks down the same street another man stood playing his harmonica.

He was about the same age as the first. He hadn’t shaved in a while and his clothes were stained with dirt – likely from calling the park bench or alleyway door his home.

At first glance both these men shared similarities.

But not everything was the same…

The second man played his music. He wasn’t good at it, but it looked like he was doing his best to enjoy it. He engaged eyes with everyone that passed and gave them a smile.

The other difference was that the second man’s hat had a lot more money in it. A few bills and at least $25 worth of coins.  Continue Reading

How to Use Twitter to Get More Consulting Clients

Finding-Consulting-Clients-Twitter

Social media can be a complete waste of your time.

Simple conversations can and do often lead to more serious discussions that turn into business.

It can also be a great way to build your business and land consulting clients.

Obviously if you spend your time on Twitter, or any other social network for that matter, engaged in meaningless time consuming banter the result will be meaningless.

On the other hand, if you take a strategic approach to your social media, it can directly lead to more clients.

Today I’m going to share with you a simple, yet powerful strategy on how to use Twitter to land more consulting clients.

Here’s how it works:

1. Make a list of your ideal clients and who your buyer will be. Aim to find out the name of the person at the company. The more detailed and specific you can be here the better.

2. Spend 20-30 minutes searching for each of these buyers on Twitter. You may be able to find them through Twitter’s search directly. Or you can hop onto Google and search for them there. For example, let’s say I wanted to connect with Maria Pergolino, the VP Marketing at Apttus (formerly Marketo). I would simply do a search for “Maria Pergolino Twitter” and this is the result: Continue Reading

How to Find More Consulting Clients

Find-More-Consulting-Clients

Do you want to expand your client base and attract more of your ideal consulting clients?

Once you’ve put this list together you’ll have a set of criteria that gives you greater clarity into who your ideal clients really are and how to get your message in front of them.

One great option to accomplish this is to get a clearer picture of who your ideal clients are.

There are several ways to do this:

Buyer Persona and Client Avatar: Often called a Buyer Persona or Client Avatar, in this exercise you want answer specific questions that include:

  • Demographic information – location, age, income, gender, etc of your ideal client
  • Title – is your ideal buyer a VP, Director, CEO, Manager?
  • Average day – what does their average day look like?
  • Buying authority – do they have authority to hire and write you the check?

Information Sources: Where does your ideal buyer go to get informed? Do they visit specific websites, blogs, read trade publications or magazines? Do they attend specific events? Continue Reading

Future Planning Can Do More Harm Than Good

Future-Thinking

Thinking too much about the future and not enough about the present reduces your chances of success.

I was sitting on my mat at the yoga studio stretched forward over my knees holding a deep pose.

If you don’t focus enough on the NOW and take the actions your business needs to take NOW, you’ll get to that place you’ve been thinking about in the future.

My teacher often shares ideas and thoughts on life throughout the class. One of them really caught my attention last night and I wanted to share it with you.

She said, “We focus too much on the future, and not enough on the present. We worry too much about things that haven’t happened yet, and don’t spend enough time thinking about and being in the moment we are in.”

I do my best to block out thoughts about business when I’m at my yoga class. Though I admit, it’s hard for me. I’ve been running businesses and consulting for over 14 years. I’m always thinking about business in one form or another.

This time was no different.

My teacher’s words made complete sense from a personal perspective and business perspective.

Too many consultants and business owners spending time creating elaborate plans for their business.

They day dream about how grand things will be in the future.

They put off doing things they might enjoy now until later, because ‘later’ will be a better time. Continue Reading

Unprofessional Professional: Part 2

Unprofessional

I shared some thoughts on what makes an Unprofessional Professional in Part 1. I’ve since seen and thought about other qualities that make a professional, well, unprofessional.

Here’s one: Running away from something when it’s hard or when you’re scared.

The unprofessional let’s things slide and does their best to hide when the situation gets uncomfortable for them.

A prospective client asks you a question, you give them an answer. It turns out to be incorrect. Do you just leave it and hope that it goes away. Or do you let them know that you were mistaken, expose your error and offer them the correct response?

If you’re discussing making a deal with someone, you agree that they should call you back a specific time and then have second thoughts, what do you do? Do you let the phone ring when they try to call you and not answer it? Do you ignore their emails and tell yourself you’ll pretend that you never saw them? Or do you pick up the phone, because you agreed that you would at that specific time and tell them that you’re having second thoughts and explain why?

Both of these examples may seem inconsequential.

“It’s just a small mistake” you say.

“It won’t hurt anyone”…”it’s just a phone call” you tell yourself.

Well, that’s the attitude of an Unprofessional Professional.

The problem is that every time you let something “small” slide it adds up. It gathers and then one day starts to creep up on you.

Because when you don’t follow through and do what you said you would, people talk. Continue Reading