What is the “secret sauce” behind the world’s most successful consulting offers?
A few days ago, I was on a group call with consultants in our Clarity Coaching community.
An interesting question came up on the call.
One of the consultants asked…
“My client is asking for help with something that is not a part of my core service — but I could help them. Should I take on the project?”
My answer was “It depends.”
By the end of this article, you’ll understand how to answer this question based on the maturity of your business — as well as what makes a successful consulting offer (and how to improve it over time).
First, let’s provide some context to this scenario by looking at how your consulting offers evolve.
The Evolution Of Consulting Offers
In the early stages of consulting businesses, consultants typically create and offer many different services.
At this stage, you don’t know what’s going to work.
- For example, for one client, you might offer them “Service A.”
- For the next client, you might offer them “Service B.”
- And for the third client, you offer them “Service C.”
With each of these services, you have a hypothesis about their demand: you believe buyers want them.
You also believe that you can solve their problem and deliver results.
But ultimately, you aren’t 100% sure about which service is going to resonate most with your ideal client.
Think of it this way: your market will help you determine which service is the right fit.
They’ll either invest in it or they won’t.
Then, if they say “Yes”, you’ll deliver the project for them. Ideally, you’ll also achieve the results the client wants.
Over time, you’ll notice that one or two of your offers are easiest to sell.
You’ll start delivering more of those — and less of the services that are more difficult to sell and have less demand.
As a result, there is less variation in your business. You’re offering less instead of more.
You are removing complexity, and your consulting business begins to grow.
In the early stages, there’s a lot of noise and uncertainty. As you grow, there is less noise and more certainty as you begin to narrow down your consulting offers.
The further down this path you go, the clearer you’ll get on what consulting offers will contribute to the growth of your consulting business the most.
There’s no skipping past this stage. But there are ways to speed up the process.
Next, I’ll talk about the 5 factors that make your consulting offers successful.
5 Factors Of Successful Consulting Offers
What makes a consulting offer more likely to succeed?
If you can dial in each of the 5 factors below, you have a much higher chance of creating a successful consulting offer.
1. Who Is Your Ideal Client?
Clarity around your ideal client is essential.
The more specific you are about your ideal client, the easier it will be to create an offer that resonates with that ideal client.
If you’re feeling stuck on your offers, circle back to your ideal client. Get more specific about them: their industry, their problem, and their situation.
In our Clarity Coaching Program, one of the first things we help consultants with is “Ideal Clent Clarity.”
Here’s what you want to get clear on in terms of your ideal client’s characteristics:
- INDUSTRY. What industry is your ideal client in?
- SIZE. How much revenue does your ideal client’s company make? Approximately how many employees work at their company?
- LOCATION. Where is your ideal client located in the world?
- SENIORITY. What level of seniority does your ideal client have?
- JOB TITLE. What is your ideal client’s job title?
2. What Is Their Main Problem?
Now that you have clarity on your ideal client, the next step is to figure out what they really care about.
A big source of that is: what is their problem?
What’s top of mind for them?
What are they currently struggling with?
What would they like to accomplish -— but they can’t because they don’t have the expertise, the time, or the energy?
A good offer doesn’t claim to solve every problem.
A good offer solves a particular problem.
What is the primary problem that your consulting offer solves?
It should be a painful, expensive, and relevant problem. If it is, clients will invest in it.
3. What Is the Right Product Or Service For Them?
There are two parts to making sure that you deliver the right product and service to your ideal clients.
The first part is making sure that what you offering to the marketplace or to the buyer is what they actually will buy.
They might say “we need to generate more sales. Come and do sales training for us.”
Then, as you go deeper into a conversation with them, you learn that the leads that they are generating are really low quality.
It’s more of a marketing problem than a sales problem.
Through your conversation, you end up suggesting a workshop or some coaching to support the marketing team. You’ll help them make sure the right message is getting out to the marketplace to attract the right people.
That way, the sales team will be talking to the right people, and they’ll make more sales.
There are often many different ways to solve your client’s problem.
Perhaps you could create a few different products or services to offer them.
But over time, you’ll learn to craft an offer that is just right for your ideal client.
You want your ideal client to read over a particular offer and think to themselves “Yes, this is JUST what I need!”
4. How Will You Deliver The Offer?
What is your delivery model for this product or service?
Your offer also needs to support the kind of lifestyle that you want to live.
If you want to spend more time with your family, and you don’t want to be on the road, then offering in-person training and workshops is not the right delivery model.
It might be what the market wants — but if it’s not what you want, that’s not what you should be doing.
So, figure out how you’ll deliver your offer in a way that supports the type of business you want.
Is it going to be through…
- On-site training?
- Online training?
- Implementation work?
- Advisory work?
The right delivery model solves your ideal client’s problem — but it is also profitable for you.
5. What Is The Right Pricing Strategy?
Charging the right amount for your consulting fees is both art and science.
Projects that are priced incorrectly can often scare clients away. You’ll end up losing big opportunities.
But if you choose the right pricing strategy, you’ll make your offer much more attractive — and the client will be more likely to invest in your offer.
And, you’ll ensure that your offer is profitable for you to deliver. Without a profitable offer, there’s no way you can grow your consulting business.
You won’t have the answers to these questions early on.
In the early stages, you’re experimenting in order to answer these questions.
You’ll feel uneasy and you’ll have doubts.
But this process is imperative if you want to narrow it down to choosing an offer that works best for both you and your clients.
4 Steps To Iterate & Improve Your Consulting Offers
Now that you know the 5 factors that make up successful consulting offers, I’ll give you some action items to improve your offers.
1. Have conversations with buyers
Generating and having more conversations with buyers about your offers is key.
Without these conversations, you can’t gather feedback about them. You can’t sell them. You can’t deliver them.
Sales conversations are the lifeblood of your consulting business. Without conversations, you can’t win consulting business.
If you aren’t generating enough conversations, it’s time to work on your marketing.
2. Analyze those conversations
Once you start having frequent conversations, you’ll begin to see the similar threads between them.
You’ll notice certain patterns about your ideal clients and what they want, which are critical to getting the 5 factors of your offers right.
For example, what’s similar between the people who DO move forward with your offer?
And what’s similar between the people who DON’T move forward with your offer?
This information is key to getting clarity around your offer and who the best type of buyer is for it.
3. Deliver your offers
Once you successfully sell your offers, you shift focus to delivering the project.
When you’re working on consulting projects, make a conscious effort to observe and ask yourself…
- How long am I spending on this project?
- Is this service I’m offering profitable?
- Do I actually enjoy doing this?
- Does it promote referrals?
- Does it lead to more work with the organization?
- Is it creating the desired result for the client?
You can only answer these questions when you do the work.
Answering these questions will help you choose the right model, pricing strategy, and method of delivery — all of which will make your offer and business more profitable.
4. Eliminate what’s not working
At this stage, since you’ve delivered your offer many times, you’ll begin to remove inefficiencies and waste.
You know your ideal client’s problems, how they want to buy, what they want to buy, and all of the talking points that influence their decision.
Now, you’ll focus on what’s most important and eliminate aspects of the process that are not essential.
Addition by subtraction is how you optimize your consulting offers.
For example, you’ll go from targeting several different types of clients to the single type of client who is most likely to buy.
You’ll craft your marketing for that offer for them specifically to make it that much more enticing.
You’ll say with confidence: THIS is the kind of client who I can best help.
Again, think 80/20.
Always be thinking about what’s most important to your buyer and how you can provide them with the most value with the least amount of your input. That’s how you create the most leverage for you and your client.
Advice On Consulting Offers
So, if a client is requesting some work that you don’t typically offer, should you take on the project?
- You’re confident it will be profitable
- You see the potential for the smaller project can lead to a bigger project
- You think you could duplicate the project for other clients, and you could turn it into the main offer
- You (or your team) won’t be overwhelmed by the new type of engagement.
If you answer NO to any of the questions above, lean towards saying no to the client.
Especially if you’re in the mid or later stages of your business.
There are always going to be new clients and new projects out there for you to win.
But if you say YES to the wrong project, you’ll feel stressed, overwhelmed, and frustrated.
Over time, you’ll gain intuition about the projects and clients you take on.
Don’t be afraid to say no to clients or projects that aren’t the right fit.
In the early stages, you’ll take on riskier projects and clients. These engagements will help inform you about what you should be offering.
However, once you’ve started to narrow down on offers that work, be content saying no more often.
“No” is what creates freedom for you to do what you do best.
Action Step: Identify Where You’re At With Your Consulting Offers
Identify where you’re at with your consulting business and your consulting offers.
Are you an early-stage consultant?
Then say “YES” more often. It’s by this process you’ll learn what clients want, what works, and what doesn’t.
Are you a mid-stage consultant?
Use the checklist above to determine whether or not you should say yes. Only say yes under certain conditions.
Are you a late-stage consultant?
Then say “NO” more often. Growth comes from subtraction, not addition.
It’s about removing things and distilling your offers down to the fewest things that create the biggest impact.
80% of your results come from 20% of your actions.
And it’s the same for your services – 80% of what your client cares about comes from 20% of what you offer them.
Use the information in this article to discover that 20%. Then, build your consulting business and offers around that.
That’s what we’ve done to build a 7-figure business. And that’s what the elite consultants in our programs do, too.