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How Consultants Deal With Sceptics

There’s no doubt that you’ll encounter more than your fair share of sceptics. You know, the people that don’t believe what you have to offer has any real value.

Most people are sceptical. That’s why much of the advertising we encounter has little to no effect. So how do you cut through the clutter and prove you’ve got the skills to get the job done?

Here are 3 suggestions on how to approach this:

1. Fish in the Right Pond

Some potential consulting customers will have little to no experience or interest in having someone like yourself help them with their business. Hey that’s fine. You can try to point them in the right direction, but if it becomes pretty clear that they’re not going to give you the time of day, move on.

There are plenty of business owners and company employees that understand they need help and are just waiting for the right consultant to come along. Target those people.

2. The Proof is in the Pudding
Give concrete examples of how your services and involvement has helped generate results in one form or another.

If you can paint this picture in terms relevant to the prospective client you’ll see better results. Example: You “helped reduce Company A’s costs by 25%.” Or helped them “double their sales” or “increased their website traffic every month”.

While I’m sure you’re a trustworthy person, your words alone will only get you so far. Testimonials and letters of reference from your clients, past employers…or anyone willing to ‘testify’ that you’ve helped to make things happen is a what you should really be showing clients.

Having others say good things about you is so much more powerful than you saying it yourself.

3. Eat the Risk
You need to step up and swallow the risk.

Unless you have a bulletproof set of accomplishments and people are knocking down your door to hire your consulting services, there’s little reason for business owner to believe you.

It’s not that they necessarily think you’re lying or making false claims. But until you show THEM first hand what you can do, they’ll remain a sceptic.

So what should you do? Offer them a guarantee. If they’re not happy with your results, they don’t have to pay. Or you’ll keep working at no charge until the results are achieved.

Whatever you arrange, reversing the risk by taking it off their shoulders and putting it onto yours says a lot about how confident you are in your consulting services.

There you have it, three ways to deal with sceptics.

If you’ve found the information in this article helpful be sure to take a look at the Consulting Success System 2.0


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6 thoughts on “How Consultants Deal With Sceptics

  1. These are 3 great ideas. As a leader in the collaborative consulting field, we struggle with skeptics to better ways of working all the time.

    We use your above ideas, but also appeal directly to the individuals personal, political interests, and the actual time and difference savings.

    The real problem we have however, I would refer more to as fear. We spend so much time in meetings and conferences where people just hide behind PowerPoint. It is time we move beyond this as consultants and business leaders.

  2. Brandon – it definitely is time! It’s amazing what can be accomplished when people cut all the crap and have real conversations on real issues.

  3. I just received a question from reader Noel D. He said: “Great blog entry. But, how do you make sure you locate the right pond?”

    Great question Noel. Some companies make your work as a consultant more easy. That is they don’t have mounds of bureaucracy you have to climb each time you want to have a recommendation acted on.

    However, fishing in the right pond comes down to trial and error. It’s more about judging the vibe you get from someone and closely watching and listening to their reactions.

    If the person you’re meeting with is doubting everything you say and shows little commitment it’s often best to move on … rather than trying to repeatedly win them over. Unless they represent some very big potential.

    The best way to combat the above, other than really studying and knowing the market you’re dealing with, are point two and three above.

    Fishing in the right pond is a starting point, but proving that you can really add value to a prospective clients business is where it’s really at.

  4. Another great post, but my question is when you’ve located the right pond, how do you know the fish will bite and keep on biting from that point on? Scepticism is sometimes hard to chew through when you’re dealing with hardnose business owners who wont admit they need the expertise of an outside resource knowledgable enough to guide them in the right direction, adding value to their business. They may say, “ok, let me here what you have to say and see what you can do.” The truth is in selling them on the results factor, right? They’ve bitten, now it’s time to get them to bite a little more to put into action the accomplishments that can be made. At least this is my thinking.

    • Rene, as you’ve rightly pointed to … it’s all about the results and showing clients how your work will deliver and what that means to their business (the real value you create).
      As to the first part of your question: “how to know if they’ll keep biting” … you won’t. Most of us can’t see into the future. The best way to keep clients going is to continually show them how you’ll continue to help them and create value for them.

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