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10 Consultants Share Their Best Advice
This is a special episode because it’s the 100th. More importantly, we see great feedback from the consulting community. We get emails every week from people who have found that the podcast has made a difference in their lives and has helped them to get greater clarity and grow their business. That’s why we do this. Thank you to everyone that has reached out. We will continue to provide and bring you great episodes with guests and the latest best practices to help you grow your consulting business. For this episode, we thought we would do something a little bit different. I’m going to take you through ten of the top episodes and extract key insights from each one of those and share with you why they are so important for you as a consultant and for your business. I’m going to go through these ten and give you a quote from each consultant that I interviewed. I’ll give you some context, share my perspective, insights, experience and maybe some stories around that so you can pull out these golden nuggets, implement them into your business and apply them to your mindset to perform at even higher levels. Let’s get right into it.
Perry Marshall’s Four Steps To Specializing Your Consulting Business And Marketing Techniques
The first insight that I want to share with you is from episode 30 that I did with Perry Marshall. This episode is all about the 4 Steps to Specializing Your Consulting Business and Marketing Techniques. Perry is a very wise guy. Episode 30 is one you’re going to want to check out if you haven’t already. The key message that I want to share with you from this is Perry said, “80/20 is fundamentally about saying no. 80/20 says that sales and marketing is a disqualification process, not a convincing-people process. The first step of doing 80/20 is saying, ‘What am I not? Who do I not serve?’ A consultant by nature is an open options person. It feels disingenuous to yourself to close off options. If you’re going to specialize in manufacturing, you’re not in software. You’re not in IT. You’re not in pizza delivery.” I’ve observed that growth comes from subtraction, not addition. That’s why Perry sharing this message is so powerful. It’s so true. We’ve seen it play out over and over with hundreds of consultants we’ve personally worked within our coaching program.
I want to impart with you that less is more. By becoming very focused on who your ideal client is and what your area of specialization is, not only will you feel more focused, but you will feel more clear. Your service offerings will be able to be tailored and more specific to your ideal clients. Your messaging will be more specific to your ideal clients. Because of that, it will resonate better with them. That’s true power. When you start to be very clear on exactly who you serve, what you offer them and how you can help them while you’re talking their language, everything starts to connect better because there’s greater alignment. You’ll see a higher level of response.
I interviewed Mark Hunter. He’s The Sales Hunter, one of the top sales minds in the world. He said, “Less allows you to focus on the best clients and charge higher fees.” In Mark’s case, he doesn’t need to go after hundreds and hundreds of different companies all at one time. He can boil down. He boiled down exactly who his ideal client is. Rather than trying to scale through the acquisition of many clients, he has gotten much more focused on the ideal client. Because of that, he’s been able to maximize his fees to earn significantly more than others might in his industry. The other part of this is that once you’ve gotten clear on your specialization, who your ideal clients are and you said no to the wrong opportunities, which allows you to say yes to the right ones, you can build better systems and processes around that.A consultant by nature is an open options person. Click To Tweet
The second insight that I want to share with you comes from episode eleven. This was all about how to Diversify and Creating Multiple Income Streams as a Consultant. This was with Dorie Clark. She said, “Marketing is much more a long-term horizon-oriented. Marketing is the activities that you do that are probably not going to pay a dividend now but will pay a dividend next month, next year or in five years. The more you can spend time doing that, the higher that plateau you can reach. What you want to be able to do is shift your ratios so that you’re doing far more marketing and far less sales. It’s marketing that will have a greater, long-term benefit. In the beginning, I almost exclusively did sales. At present, I do no sales. I do marketing fully. I spend my time on content creation, giving speeches and writing books with the goal of attracting customers to me so the sales process is not me knocking on their door, asking or begging. The sales process is them coming to me and saying, ‘Can I work with you?’ It’s me quoting a price and them saying, ‘Great.’”
Dorie Clark: Diversify And Creating Multiple Income Streams As A Consultant
This is a very important concept. It’s one that I’ve spoken with many of our clients about over the years. I describe it as part of the marketing maturity model, which is when you’re early in your marketing. You might already have many years as a consultant or brand new in the world of consulting. When you start up your marketing process, you’re not just relying on referrals or your network anymore, when you’re doing marketing, when you want to start to generate a pipeline of opportunities, in almost all cases, you will need to do more outreach, more outbound early on. That’s considered to be more sales. That’s the harder stuff to do. It’s not as comfortable to do because you need to go out rather than having people come to you. It’s a lot easier to have someone show up and say, “I’d like to hire you,” than it is for you to call, email or connect on LinkedIn and follow up and all that stuff.
The reality is almost every consultant out there has had to go through that stage. When you’re early on in your marketing, you can look at other consultants. I have people reach out and say, “Maybe you don’t need to do this anymore.” I said, “You’re right. I don’t need to do it anymore, but I did need to do it back in the day.” That’s what all consultants have to go through. Early on, you need to have that drive, that hustle, that work ethic, especially when it comes to outreach and to follow-up. That’s what gets things moving at the beginning. As you start to build your pipeline, and because you’re reaching out to people, you’re doing follow-up and creating more conversations, you start to land more business if you have a good system in place to do so. As that happens, you can shift what I call the marketing maturity model to be doing less of those sales and more of the marketing, more of the inbound, more of the long-term stuff, which is exactly what Dorie is referring to. It’s that content creation.
If you start doing your marketing, the first thing you do is only content and you don’t do outreach and outbound, but you just follow what other people are saying like, “You have to blog, you have to do this or that,” the reality is it might take a while for you to see the return on that investment and start generating leads from it. That’s why I almost always counsel our clients, especially those that we work with together very closely in our coaching program, to think about when you’re getting started early on. Do that outreach. Lay the groundwork. Build the pipeline. At the same time, do a smaller percentage of marketing, the longer-term stuff, the content creation. It’s important. That’s evergreen. It’s going to generate opportunities for you far into the future. If you only do that to start, you’re going to be waiting a lot longer to get in front of ideal clients.Becoming focused on who your ideal client is and what your area of specialization is will make you feel more focused and clear. Click To Tweet
That’s the power of the outreach of the sales side. It allows you to connect with an ideal client now and meeting them later this week if you put in the work to do so and have the right system and structure to accomplish that. It’s natural to feel that you’re going to want to gravitate towards marketing. If you start just with marketing and content creation and not with the outreach, outbound, sales and prospecting, you’re going to be waiting a lot longer. It’s the balance of those two. Recognize that it’s not always going to be that way. As you continue doing this and you go down that path and follow the right system and process, what you’re going to be able to do is shift that percentage. You’ll be able to do a lot more content creation, marketing and enjoyable stuff for most people rather than the prospect and the sales. The early stage is key.
David Baker: Taking Greater Risks To Enjoy Greater Rewards
The third insight comes from David Baker. This is from episode fourteen. The title of that episode was Taking Greater Risks to Enjoy Greater Rewards. Let’s continue on a little bit with the marketing theme. David says, “The second biggest mistake consultants make is that they do not pay attention to their own marketing. They’re the cobbler’s son with no shoes. We joke about that but it’s disgusting to me. It’s pathetic that consultants don’t have a great website. They don’t have a presence.” I see this with both new and seasoned consultants. It’s that marketing. Working on your business, not just in your business, is a hard thing to do, especially as you started having clients or you have family obligations or life makes your schedule busy. The first thing that typically drops off your calendar is marketing. For many people, marketing isn’t the most enjoyable activity or time of your day to spend on working on your marketing. It’s the most important.
Delivering results for clients, doing what you say you’re going to do and going even beyond the expectations is critical. That’s the highest priority. Job number one is to deliver to clients without a doubt. If you don’t do marketing, you won’t have clients. Even if you’re in a position now where you’ve landed a great contract and you have one or two clients who are paying you a lot of money, that’s a dangerous place to be. We see this all the time. We have people reach out saying, “I need help with my marketing.” I say, “Where are you coming from? What’s going on?” They’d tell me, “I’ve been working with this one client. I’ve been making $250,000 a year with them. Things have been great, but that project is ending.” Sometimes people wait until it’s too late, meaning that the project has ended. They say, “I’ve been trying to figure what to do for the last two months because I haven’t been able to pick up any work.”
The sooner that you start planting those seeds for your marketing, the sooner that you’ll be able to reap the benefits and rewards of doing so. Marketing pays dividends, but it takes time for you to see the fruits of your labor in many cases. The sooner you begin, the sooner you’re going to benefit from that. That’s why marketing must become a habit. It must be done consistently. If you go to ConsultingSuccess.com to the blog, you can search or scroll through. You’ll see the Marketing for Consultants 2019 Study that we conducted. The data shows that consultants who market consistently have far more clients. They rely less on referrals and have higher incomes. If you want to be in that group and succeed rather than struggle, make sure that you’re working on your marketing consistently.Delivering results for clients, doing what you say you’re going to do, and going even beyond the expectations is critical. Click To Tweet
Insight number four is the episode titled How CEOs Buy Consulting Services with Lew Jaffe. That’s episode 84. Lew says, “To me, all businesses are the same. Gain and retain customers profitably in order to create value. Whether you’re selling a product or a service, it’s like you have aspirin and your potential customer has a headache. It’s how do you get that aspirin in alignment with the headache, whether it’d be selling a product or a service, it’s the same thing. It’s how you package it, but it gets to product-market fit. My product is me. When I’m looking for clients or clients come to me, I want to make sure that I bring to the party what fits with what they want and what they’ll pay for.” Lew is an incredibly smart guy and very talented. He has created over $1 billion in shareholder value. He came out to one of our live events that we run for some of our coaching clients. Everyone found him to be captivating and enjoyed what he shared.
How CEOs Buy Consulting Services with Lew Jaffe
What I want to encourage you to take away is to focus on that alignment and fit between what your client, the market you want to serve, desire, what their needs are, what pains they have and what you are delivering, talking about and offering. It’s not just about what you have. It’s about what you want. Many consultants will go on and on about everything they do and what they have. It’s not about that. It’s about what the client wants. What is their situation? Here’s the other thing that I want you to remember. People like to buy. We all like to buy things. We just don’t like to be sold to. If you’re going into a conversation and you’re saying, “Here’s what I want to take you through. Here’s our process, methodology and what we’ve done. We’ve worked with these people. We’re great at this because we have these degrees and so on,” you’re talking all about yourself.
Make sales easy. Don’t try and sell. Ask questions. Identify through deep, meaningful questions, “What does that person want?” When you truly understand exactly what they want because you dug deep into the core and pulled back the layers of the onion, offer it to them. Extend an invitation and say, “We did something very similar with an organization. This is the result that they saw. Would that be helpful for you?” If you’ve had that conversation, you have a good product-market fit because you’re offering the prospective client exactly what they told you they want to buy, rather than saying, “I have this cup of coffee. I know you only drink tea, but why don’t you try our coffee?” That doesn’t work. Find out like, “You’d like to drink green tea. That’s all you drink. I have a wonderful green tea. I brought it back from Japan with me. Would you like to try it?” “Of course, I would.” Make sales easy. Don’t try and sell to someone. Try and figure out ways that you can serve them. Make buying easy for them.
Corporate Consulting For Fortune 500 Companies with Suzanne Bates
Insight number five comes from episode 43. It’s titled Corporate Consulting for Fortune 500 Companies with Suzanne Bates. She said, “You have to invest in yourself. You have to invest in your learning and your growth. In addition to setting aside money for my family to live on, I joined professional organizations and associations. I met more people who could help me as you help your clients. They were incredibly valuable to me as mentors. I tried to surround myself with people who knew what they were doing. I had a great account. I had a great mentor. I had an association. Unfortunately, I hadn’t met you, Michael, but I worked with a consultant who helped me with all the block and tackle from how you price your services to how you write a proposal that gets accepted to how to talk to the client, how to do consultative selling, how to frame your work, how to understand what the client’s challenges are and how to get it over the finish line.”If you don’t do marketing, you won’t have clients. Click To Tweet
Our business started to change. We saw dramatic growth. You could even call it an inflection point, a real turning point in our business the moment that we started to invest in working with other coaches and mentors. We decided to invest in our business and ourselves. In response to that, we start to see and learn things that, otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to see. That’s the value of coaching, having mentors and surrounding yourself with people who are either smarter than you or have different experiences and skill sets. Ideally, they are at that next level that you want to be at, which means they’ve already walked the path that you’re walking right now. They know what obstacles to avoid and how to get you from who you are to where you want to get to a lot faster. When we did that, our business took off. If you look at any successful person out there, whether they are an athlete, artist, singer or actor, they are in the business world.
Eric Schmidt, the chairperson and CEO at the time of Google, had a coach. We’ve consistently brought coaches and mentors into our world who helps us to grow at a faster rate and make better-informed decisions. Making that investment is a true commitment. When you invest in working with a coach, a program or whatever it might be, you need to succeed. Every coach that we’ve worked with and every program that we’ve been into, we’ve always had a positive return on investment. That’s gratitude to the coach or whoever offered that program because they had good stuff in most cases. Even sometimes when we took something that wasn’t the best for us or the right fit, we still always had a positive return on investment. That’s because we were committed to implementing. We took action. We didn’t just learn. We put it into play. That’s where we started to see greater and greater results.
The other thing that I remember one of our mentors set up many years ago, which resonated with me, is, “How can you ask people to invest in you if you’re not investing in yourself?” As a consultant, you’re asking companies and people to invest in your services and what you’re offering. How can you do that with real confidence if you yourself aren’t investing in your own business and increasing your levels of performance, knowledge and skills? If you want to shorten your path to results, find someone or some program that can help you to improve in the areas that you’re looking to improve. Be committed to it and implement on it relentlessly. When you do that, the results are almost guaranteed. I don’t know your exact same situation so I can’t say, but in the vast majority, in our experience, we’ve always seen a positive ROI. That’s insight number five.
Jason Treu on Consulting Your Inner Self To Master The Business: Mind Games
Insight number six comes from Jason Treu. It’s episode 31, Consulting Your Inner Self to Master the Business Mind Games. Jason said, “People get stuck up in the how too much. You’ve got to figure out the why. That’s the drive. It’s like running. It’s twenty degrees here in Dallas. I know for some people, that’s not cold. The difference is because I have goals and a drive. I’m going out there and doing it. If you have the motivation, you wouldn’t go outside and run here. That’s the difference. You’ve got to find your drive that’s going to ignite you to go forward. That comes from the why, not the how. Now you’re getting bogged down in unnecessary details of asking questions that, if you started, you’d figure them out.” This is so important. I want to encourage you to go read episode 31. This is the mindset. This is all about how you behave, conduct yourself and make better decisions. We all have tough days, reasons not to take action that we said that we would. Deep down inside, we know that we should. We convince ourselves. We find excuses not to take that action. When you have a strong why that drives and motivates you, you’re going to take that action.Don’t try and sell to someone. Try and figure out ways that you can serve them. Click To Tweet
If you have a child and they need to go somewhere, it’s critical for them. You’re going to move mountains to make sure that happens. If they need some medical care or whatever it is, you’re going to make sure it happens. You have a why. That may not be the best example when it comes to building your business, but the context or idea is the same. When you find a true reason that’s driving you to do what you do, not just making money but why are you doing what you’re doing, how committed are you to truly bringing results, changing the lives and environment that your clients and the market you’re serving in? When you get very clear on your why, all the things that you confront on a daily basis that are tough or challenging and don’t like, you power through them.
You may not enjoy them and might still hesitate a little bit but, at the end of the day, if you’re out the door and we use Jason’s idea, you’re out there and going to go for a run. There’s snow on the ground. You can find a reason like, “I might slip. It’s dangerous and all these things.” If you’re committed to being in shape, being healthier and feeling more energized, you’re going to go out. You might run a little bit slower or wear different shoes. You’re going to make it happen. That’s what separates those who struggle from those who succeed. People on their deathbed don’t talk about wanting more money. It’s their regrets. It’s the things that they didn’t try that they know that they should’ve. It’s the things they thought about, but they created reasons and excuses not to move forward with. That’s what they regret. It’s not regretting not stepping up. They regret not facing their fear. This is your time. Do it. Whatever it is that you want to achieve, figure out your why and drive forward with it.
Rita McGrath: Creating Growth And Competitive Advantage In Consulting
Insight number seven comes from Rita McGrath in episode 82 titled Creating Growth and Competitive Advantage in Consulting. Rita says, “The first thing to realize is it’s not me all by myself doing all this stuff. I have a team around me. There will come a time in your business if you’re successful where you cannot keep on top of everything. What I find with a lot of younger consultants or people that are just starting out, the thought of spending money on someone to help them with stuff, they’re very reluctant to do that because they’re like, ‘That’s money out of my pocket.’ You can’t look at it that way. You have to be looking at it as an investment in building your business. That’s the first thing to realize, which is you’re never going to be able to handle all the details yourself.” It’s super powerful. I remember this because, as my first consulting business was getting going and things were starting to improve revenues and increasing, I was thinking myself, “Should I hire someone else? Should I build the team?” When I first had that thought, I put it off because I was like, “No. I want to keep taking more of that money. I need to run lean. I can do more things myself.” It’s exactly like Rita says. If you want to grow, you can’t do everything yourself. This is a very common concern.
Consultants tend to be a little bit more conservative. They tend to believe that they can do things better than other people. The reality is even though someone you might be able to do something better than someone else, the fact that they can do that for you means that you can now free yourself up to work less on the things that aren’t as valuable and that somebody else can do. It allows you to focus on the things that are more valuable, the things that will help you to grow your business even further. You don’t need to go out and hire a whole bunch of employees and formally build your team. You can simply go out and find contractors. Find people through different websites like Fiverr, Upwork or Freelancer. There’s a whole bunch of them out there. There are all these different sites that you can find people that can help you with different tasks. They don’t need to be on-premises. They can be virtual. It can be remote. Find things that you can delegate. Get someone else to take care of the lower-value tasks that happen over and over again so you can focus on the true areas where you can create the most value.When you have a strong 'why' that drives and motivates you, you’re going to take action. Click To Tweet
Insight number eight comes from Gordon Graham, also known as The White Paper Guy. This is episode four. This is called How to Write a White Paper That Wins Consulting Projects. Gordon says, “People serve themselves. B2B buyers serve themselves. They come to your website. Through Google, they click on it and look around. What are they going to be most attracted to? I’ve got something a little bit of hard truth to impart, which is nobody cares about your company. We’re trying to get our good image, get a nice low and get our website altogether and tell people how proud we are of our company. Nobody cares. They care about their problems like we care about our problems.” This is a great message because it’s true. It’s easy to get caught up in everything that we’re doing, but it’s always about the client and what’s on their mind. Using their language is critical so that your message aligns with them.
Gordon Graham: How To Write A White Paper That Wins Consulting Projects
The way to get the attention of your ideal client and to be able to create a conversation with them is to use language that taps into what they’re actively searching for or thinking about right now. It’s not about you. They’re not thinking about you. They’re thinking about themselves, the issues that they have or the goals, accomplishments and improvements they want to make. When you tap into that language, good things start to happen. If you don’t know how to do that, if you don’t know what the language is, go out and talk to your clients. Go out and talk to prospective clients and people in the industry so you can learn what the industry language is and what truly is top-of-mind for people right now. Use that in your marketing and messaging. You’ll find that you start to see higher levels of response.
Subir Chowdhury: Landing A $60 Million Deal Without A Proposal
Insight number nine comes from Subir Chowdhury, which is episode 95 titled Landing a $60 Million Deal Without a Proposal. Subir is a very smart guy. He said, “Read more books. Every single day, make that as a habit to become a good consultant. I’m talking about any book. Read even fiction books or nonfiction books. The reason is that it brings empathy. Fiction teaches you empathy. Read those types of books. You can empathize with a client more. I strongly feel that any good consultant should read at least two to three hours a day. You have to figure out the time. That’s number one. Number two, once you read more books, you can develop more self-confidence. I don’t know how but it happens. Any book you read, your self-confidence will go up, not overnight but, over time, you will develop more self-confidence.” I’ve got tremendous feedbacks from Subir’s episode. If you haven’t read it, go and check out episode 95.
I have a bookshelf with hundreds of books on it because I’m a big believer in reading. I have seen that the more that I read, the more confidence that I have. The reason I think it is simple. It’s because you learn more. You get a new perspective and new insights. You’re able to connect dots that otherwise you couldn’t connect before. Reading is the first part, but it’s the application of that reading that is so important. Don’t just read. You can be very knowledgeable, but if you don’t know how to take action and haven’t achieved anything from the knowledge you’ve gained, it doesn’t matter. Read but also implement.If you want to grow, you can’t do everything yourself. Click To Tweet
Insight number ten is the last one. This comes from Blair Enns. It’s episode 22 titled Doubling a $400,000 Revenue Model. Blair said, “Most consultants should be in the customized service business. A lot of us find ourselves quasi-productizing our services for reasons that aren’t clear to us that we haven’t thought through the implications.” Whether or not you feel that Blair’s message about being a customized service business model is valid for you or not, the real message that I want to pull out for you is having a business model. Many consultants aren’t clear on this. We have consultants every week reaching out and wanting our help to grow their business. What I see when I talk to them and explore this with them is that one of the real reasons they can’t grow their business is because they aren’t clear on what their model is. Don’t just do the work and offer your service to a whole bunch of people like running around like a chicken with your head cut off. Think through what you want. Find a model that supports your goals and lifestyle because this is your opportunity. This is your business. This is why you got into it. It’s to realize your full and true potential.
Blair Enns: Doubling A $400,000 Revenue Model
The way that you do that is by getting very clear on what you want. When you know what you want, you can build a model around that. You can start to have the right systems in place and a process that supports that. When you are very clear on what the model is and who you’re serving, you can make sure that your messaging is laser-focused because you’re not all things to all people. You’re also very clear on what type of client is best suited for that specific model rather than trying to offer a whole bunch of different services to different kinds of people because that creates complexity. Complexity doesn’t scale. If you want to scale your business, get very clear on your model. Make sure that your model supports what you want in your life, your goals, your revenue targets, time and travel and all those things that are so important to you. Make sure that you’re clear on the reason that you got into this business. Things will then start to come together for you.
If you’d like help to grow your consulting business, you can visit us at ConsultingSuccess.com. Get in touch. We’d love to hear from you. That’s episode 100. I want to thank you for your support. If you haven’t already, please do go to iTunes and leave us a five-star review and rating. It would mean a lot. It helps us to get the message out there and make a difference for all the other consultants and for the community that we’re all trying to serve. I’d appreciate if you can do that. I appreciate you for reading, all your support and all your emails. That’s 100 down and 100 more to go. I’m looking forward to being on this journey with you.
- 4 Steps to Specializing Your Consulting Business and Marketing Techniques – episode 30
- Diversify and Creating Multiple Income Streams as a Consultant – episode 11
- Taking Greater Risks to Enjoy Greater Rewards – episode 14
- Marketing for Consultants 2019 Study
- How CEOs Buy Consulting Services with Lew Jaffe – episode 84
- Corporate Consulting for Fortune 500 Companies with Suzanne Bates – episode 43
- Consulting Your Inner Self to Master the Business Mind Games – episode 31
- Creating Growth and Competitive Advantage in Consulting – episode 82
- How to Write a White Paper That Wins Consulting Projects – episode 4
- Landing a $60 Million Deal Without a Proposal – episode 95
- Doubling a $400,000 Revenue Model – episode 22
- iTunes – Consulting Success Podcast