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Episode #228
Andrei Zinkevich

How To 10x The Demand For Your Consulting Services

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Summary

Consulting services are a dime a dozen in the business world. What does it take to stand out from the crowd?  Michael Zipursky and Fullfunnel.io CEO Andrei Zinkevich take a look at what you can do to 10x the demand for your consulting business. From data to market research, building relationships and making use of communities, Andrei shares his valuable insights. Tune in and learn more from top business consultants as we explore success in consulting.

We are back with another episode. I’m very excited to have Andrei Zinkevich joining us. Andrei, welcome.

Thank you so much for having me.

You are the Cofounder of FullFunnel.io, where you help B2B companies generate demand and lead. Your expertise has been featured in many different publications, MarketingProfs, Sales Hacker, Conversion XL, and the list goes on. You also authored a book called LinkedIn Content Marketing: How to generate high-quality B2B leads on LinkedIn without cold messaging and ads.

We are going to dive into all of that and a lot more because I know readers want to learn how to fill their pipeline with high-quality leads. Before we do that, let’s go back in time a little bit before you started FullFunnel and maybe even before the other companies that you have been involved with. Walk us through. How did you get into the world of B2B marketing?

First of all, I want to share that I did not start my career in marketing, which is not that obvious for many people. I started in sales and spent the first five years in sales. I started as a sales development representative. I was in charge of field market and field sales. For five years, I was there on sales shows. After years of spending in the market, I realized that the biggest benefit of being five years in sales was understanding the sales process and all the hurdles salespeople face every day.

Salespeople are in the trenches and they have only one metric they could be judged among anything. It is revenue. Nobody cares about, “How many calls did you make? How many messages or emails did you send?” Your goal is to hit the revenue quota. Lots of marketers, unfortunately, are in the B2B space. I’m talking all about B2B. Lots of marketers who never planned on sales shows have zero ideas about what is happening in the trenches about the challenges salespeople face.

After five years, I was as well in charge of field marketing. In many organizations, we have this company-centric mindset like, “We have the best product in our category. We hired you to sell it and that is your goal to sell our product.” For me, the biggest question was like, “Why are the companies going to select other vendors and not our product? Why do they purchase? What are the reasons? I was always curious and if there are any chances that somehow we can create demand for our product.” That was bothering me and that was a huge motivation to move towards marketing.

In total, I spent eight years in corporations. I climbed that corporate ladder from SDR to Chief Marketing Officer. At some point, it was a natural switch to a consultant. At one point, I did not have that idea, “I want to become a consultant or start an agency.” It was a natural evolution from what I was good at. When you are climbing that ladder, you are making more connections in the professional world. That’s so important. People will refer them to me.

Always have a plan B if plans do not perform the way you are expecting. Click To Tweet

Whenever somebody had a marketing problem, they said, “Go to Andrei. Andrei is a CMO at that company. He might help.” As a side project, I started to do some consultations. I never charged for these consultations but people were saying, “We want to pay for this. Let us know what would be a fair price.” I thought, “Probably, something may go out of it.” In my last years at the corporation, I worked at that time for Biosphere Corporation. I feel like I’m stuck and I’m not developing.

When you say not developing, do you mean you were not developing mentally in learning new things and being challenged?

Exactly. I would describe my experience. First of all, when I joined Kimberly-Clark Corporation as SDR, it was so fun. You were in trenches. You were talking to people. You were doing sales and you saw the impact. It was a small scope in terms of the company’s revenue but you saw the impact, and then you were climbing that ladder.

The biggest problem was the higher position you have in that corporation or structure, the more time you will spend on endless meetings, business trips, calls or useless conferences because your boss must attend. I would say 80% of my time could spend that way more productive. I was not developing as a marketer and I saw the case, “This is not going in the right direction and I want to change it.” That was my biggest motivation.

When you decide to make that shift from being an executive in the corporate world to starting your own consultancy agency, what was the biggest challenge? Was there any big concern from a mindset perspective? Any fears? Was there anything that was hard for you at the beginning?

I have something that I need to share. I always prefer to have a plan B. First of all, that was my core motivation when I switched from sales to marketing. I was in charge of marketing planning. I always create a plan B and share a plan A. It got approval, alignment, and budget but I always had a plan B. If our campaigns do not perform the way I was expecting, I could easily change this and the same was here. Out of curiosity, I started writing. In most cases, I started with guest posts. I did not have a blog or anything. I started to submit articles to some well-known business journals, business magazines, and marketing magazines.

Was this in English or a different language?

No, it was in Polish. It was not English. To be honest, I started to publish content in English in 2017. At that point, somehow, I have heard that you need to have a newsletter because this is direct communication with your audience. You show them how to blog but this is a way to communicate with your audience to share your experience and get feedback, and I always include the type. I created a free account on Mailchimp and told people like, “All of us edit the link. If you want to sign up, here is the link.”

At that point, when I left my corporate day job, I did not post my content on Facebook and LinkedIn. I did not do what we call self-leadership pride. I was surprised that I had around 1,000 subscribers, which was good enough to start with. I did a quick validation saying, “I’m going to leave my corporate day job. I want to start this consulting as full-time. Let me know if anybody is interested. This is a list of questions I can help you with.” I did not have a structured program, to be honest. I said, “It could be marketing advice. Every time, we could sit down, define all your challenges, and then work on them.” Out of that mail, I generated three clients and all the rest is history.

CSP 228 | Consulting Services

 

I want to dig into that. Our conversation is pretty high level. I want to zoom in to extract a lot of your knowledge and expertise with more specific tactics in what you are doing now and what you are doing with your clients to make this valuable for everyone but this example is a great one. You decided even before you left your job to start a newsletter.

You were writing different publications. You were linking or not even linking. I don’t know if it was online or in print. As you are writing these guest posts, you would always have a byline saying, “I have a newsletter. Sign up here.” People might click that or go to it. They join your newsletter. How long did it take you to get up to 1,000 people on that list?

It probably took me around two years.

Twenty-four months or two years in, you have about 1,000 people on this list. You announced in your list, “I’m thinking about leaving my day job.” You said that you asked a few questions. What was the content of that email? Was it one email that you sent? Did you have a series of emails that you sent that helped you get that number of clients?

If they want to dive deeply here, I gave a high-level overview of what I did at that time. What I love about Mailchimp is that I don’t know if they have this feature now but at that time, they provided a score of the average subscriber you had in your database. Basically, if they open your emails and click the links because if it was a guest post, I link back to it. That gave me credibility and social proof that this publication is publishing content. MailChimp gave a score. I do not know what the formula was.

MailChimp still has a star rating. It will show you the number of stars based on engagement and stuff like that.

Less leads, more revenue. Click To Tweet

My next step was I ask, “What if I will select people that have five stars on my list and reach out?” I downloaded that list. It was 5-stars and 4-stars people, and then I manually tried to check their profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter if I could find these people. I excluded marketers because marketers were not my target audience. I wanted to find B2B entrepreneurs. I didn’t think in that space about news segmentation. I was focusing on a specific market. My next step was I reach out manually to some of the people. Probably, I still have the document in Evernote.

I created a simple Evernote document describing all the things that I might help with. Someone said, “This is the program.” I asked, “Have you ever heard of a consultant or marketing agency?” That was my feedback. The next one was, “If you are going to hire a consultant, what could be the best outcome of that engagement?” I also asked a question like, “If I were going to suggest you my consulting services, would you update to what might be the red flags or concerns you might have around this?” I did this initial round of outreach.

Was this a series of emails like you sent one email the first thing, “Here is what I can do?” Was this an all-in-one email?

It was not even an email. It was a LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter outreach. It was a direct message.

The big thing is you looked for the people that were most engaged based on the score in Mailchimp. Other providers can also do something similar, I’m sure. You exported that. You then went one-to-one to each person and messaged them. This takes me to my next question because I love what you are saying here. I want to ask you about value versus volume. For a lot of people, their goal is they want to generate more leads. They know where they have experienced it.

It can take a while to go from initial outreach to turning somebody into an actual lead. It is not even a paid client but it is even to get a meaningful conversation going. They have this feeling inside that they have to reach out to many people all at once, which is the volume approach. Because of that, they can’t customize their messaging because it is going to tens or hundreds of people all at one time.

The flip side of that is you do what you did, which is one-to-one, which allows you to customize but it takes a lot longer and you can’t reach as many people. How do you feel about each of those approaches? Is there a time where it makes sense to go and use the volume approach where you are reaching out to many people all at once? Should people always be doing one-to-one outreach in a very customized fashion?

There are pros and cons to each of these approaches. The truth is that selling services and especially consulting services are very difficult. If you have no name or you are not well-known in your community and network, then the game of numbers won’t help you. You can destroy the reputation and you will be considered a spammer. You can play the volume game at some point if you want to create mass-market info products and start selling these cheap courses. Let’s say I will bill $100, and then you can play the game of numbers. You don’t segment your audience. You sell to say, “Purchase my playbook, course or whatever it is. It’s $99.” In this case, the volume game makes sense.

If you want to sell professionally, now you can see the evaluation of how we move towards account-based marketing. It is a one-to-one program. I did that even with validating my consulting. I always say that you don’t need to have more leads. This is the motto of our company, “Less leads, more revenue.” You need to come out, solve specific issues or challenges, and help to achieve specific goals.

In this case, I was thinking about that company. Before I sent them that question, I created this salary trying to get feedback. Why did I reach out to five-star subscribers? It is because I knew that they were engaged with my content and the chances that they will reply back with some qualitative feedback are high. That was my main motivation.

I reached out to them. For those people who said yes, potentially, we might be interested. I did not immediately suggest, “Let’s make a deposit and we will start work.” What I did next was I checked that company. In most cases, you can find all those challenges. Let’s say a weak positioning, bad value proposition or bad segmentation. You can take a look at their content and immediately identify the leaks in their content strategy.

I came up with some practical insights saying, “This messaging is one-size-fits-all. Probably, it does not resonate with your target market because you are trying to target different segments. This impacts negatively your ads, performance marketing, and outreach. If you want, that could be a pilot call for our engagement if you would be interested. This is what we can work on together. Let me know if it sounds good.” That was validation and personalized outreach.

Some people will be going like, “For you, it was easy because you already had these 1,000 subscribers. I don’t have a newsletter yet. I don’t have a database that I have a relationship with, so I can’t take the same approach.” If you are in that position where your goal is to generate more meaningful conversations that can lead to high-value sales but you do not have a newsletter or a list of people who know who you are because maybe you have transitioned from the corporate world into consulting. Maybe you have been in consulting but only with a small group within your network and now that referral well has run dry. What would be the best practice? What would you start doing if that was your position?

In any community, you'll always have 90% lurkers, then you have 9% of people that engage from time to time. Then you have 1% effective members. Click To Tweet

First of all, let’s wrap up what I have shared. I did research as a warm-up play and then I did a soft pitch saying, “I know this is the issue and challenge. Also, this is what you have shared with me and what I can help you with. That will work for you.” At FullFunnel.io, we do the same. Quite often, we use market research as a warm-up play in our account-based marketing campaigns. Stepping back from consultants, we have worked with one Belgium company that was in a conservative market called HVAC. These are engineering companies and they were reaching out to engineers. They did not have volume and newsletters.

We were reaching out to these engineers. The survey was completely different, but we were asking about the challenges and goals. We came back with a dedicated content hub saying, “These are the challenges that you are facing. These are the problems that are caused by these challenges. This is how our product might help you. We brainstorm some ideas. When do you like to have a call to discuss it?” From this campaign, you can imagine it was done this summer. When I look back, it stands for Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg in Europe. We had around 50 accounts in that campaign. They generated 22 sales opportunities out of that campaign. It is a pretty good example without any audience.

Coming back to your question, if I was starting to create an audience, I would do the same play with market research. In this case, the question might be, “Who should I ask? I don’t have these connections.” I would find any community and then join this community. I have been building communities since 2017. I learned one lesson the hard way that it can be applied to any community.

In any community, you will always have 90% of lurkers. These are people who join the community but they never engage. You will never see them, then you have 9% of people that engage from time to time. You have 1% of active members. It is those who command, ask questions, do the round tables, meetups, and webinars and produce the content in general.

The truth is that you can become an active member fast. All you need to do is introduce yourself, connect with other folks and answer the questions. Start participating or engaging in all the conversations and threads that are happening in that community. You bring the value and then the next step is connecting with community admins and asking this question, “This is what I’m going to do. Would you be up if I will reach out to folks from the community and ask these questions? I want to validate my consultant’s idea. Does it make sense? You know your community members. Maybe you can recommend to whom I should reach out.”

CSP 228 | Consulting Services

 

That is the first step. The second one is that you have your knowledge. You can pack it in slides, and then suggest an exclusive webinar for this community. You will get the first traction and people. After you did the engagement, lots of people want to skip this engagement step, which is crucial. After the webinar, it could be ask-me-anything. It does not matter what activity you will be doing in that community.

You will have all the sign-ups. You can reach out and do the same reach out as I did. First of all, you will have an audience, you will get actionable qualitative feedback, and you don’t need to do anything. You do not need to have a website or start a newsletter. Before FullFunnel, I was running a company called GetLeado. It did not have a website for almost three years. It was an Evernote page describing my consultant services.

Websites, great designs, and brands are powerful but very often, people spend too much time worrying about those things and not enough time focusing on other things. That is a perfect example of how you can still generate business without having all that fancy stuff. We talked about communities. How relevant is that for the corporate marketplace?

If you are targeting pharmaceutical executives, let’s say CFOs or VPs of Marketing in a pharmaceutical company, manufacturing company or automotive industry, how have you seen that play out in terms of being able to access those people as part of a community? Is that thinking more about industry associations and professional groups? Is it a LinkedIn group or a Facebook group? Where are you seeing that you can get into the corporate-executive-level people as part of a community?

If you brought in that space, you are as well a corporate executive, and you know these people, I’m talking about the peers level, then you could create a community. Let me tackle the first miss about communities. Lots of people take a look at big communities. They seek in terms of volume. Creating a genius in sales and marketing space with 17,000 members, “This is how the community should look like. I need to have 17,000.” You need to have a micro-community. It could be around ten people and that is absolutely fine. I have a fantastic example of a company that is doing this. The platform does not matter at all.

The community is where like-minded people are connected. It could be, “Let’s create a WhatsApp group or Slack.” That could be an email community. You can say, “Let’s meet every month.” I quickly discuss, “I will create the agenda. The goal is to share all the insights and maybe some insider information in this pharmaceutical space.” You discuss the latest cases or news. That happened in the trenches. Share these insights. This micro-community becomes your core source of information. This is how you can do it but that is the problem.

In most cases, collaboration exists in a network, but ask for an intro whenever it’s possible, that's the best possible way to do it. Click To Tweet

Let’s say you are not connected to these people. Let’s pretend I was around the market or at some unknown startup and now I want to bring CMOs from Kimberly-Clark, Coca-Cola or Apple. It would be extremely hard. In this case, you won’t be able to keep unfortunately the SRO to the game. What I do in this case is try to set up a podcast. We also have our podcast at FullFunnel. I would call it the pharmaceutical CMO or CFO. It does not matter and I would be reaching one by one to these people. I’m trying to find some communities and do some guest posts as a business service.

Step by step, every time I meet a guest, I do the preparation, and I try to come up with good questions. It is not basic and generic ones. I also analyze the network of that person on LinkedIn if this is available. You could simply find new connections that you want to be connected with. The goal is to make a good job.

You simply ask, “I noticed that you are connected to John Doe from Company X. Would you mind to connect me? I want to have him as a guest and as well whom you would recommend to be a guest on this podcast.” I will be using this. Unfortunately, lots of folks say, “This is not scalable.” It’s scalable but it scales after a year or two. When it scales, it becomes a snowball. You will be mind-blown.

I completely agree with you. Our approaches are very aligned. What I often share with clients is, “The belief that you need to have a lot of people does not make sense when you look at what your revenue goals are even for the year.” Most consultants and consulting firms do not need to land hundreds of new clients on an annual basis. You need a good group.

You do not need to go after hundreds of people all at one time. In your case, you mentioned the HVAC example of 50 core accounts. From that, if you generate 5 or 10 clients, that might be hundreds, thousands or millions of dollars in business. Thinking small is thinking bigger because you are able to generate greater results from a smaller number of people that you can be more customized to.

I want to ask you about the six-part process that you talk about. Before we do that, there is one big question that often comes up when people are starting to reach out to new prospective clients and do their outreach. Within one organization, sometimes they are not 100% clear who the actual decision-maker is.

Maybe it is by committee or one key person but they are not clear, “Should I be reaching out to the CFO, COO or VP of X?” In that case, what have you found is the best practice? Does it make sense to reach out to more than one person at an organization all at one time or do you do one person and see if they respond? How do you handle that?

If you are prospecting SMBs, then in most cases, you won’t have a big buying committee. Let’s say if you are prospecting micro-businesses, small businesses or startups, in most cases, you will have a CEO who is a champion decision-maker. He or she wears all the hats. Maybe that would be a technical cofounder. If you are prospecting midsize companies, then you might have 3 to 4 buying committee members. The higher you are going, the more people will be involved in the purchasing decision.

If you are prospecting a midsize enterprise, you will always be dealing with the buying committee. What works well is not prospecting the decision-makers if you do not have a common connection. In most cases, try to leverage the existing network. Whenever it is possible, ask for an intro. That is the best possible way to do it. This is also the power of the podcast. It should also not be the podcast. It could be a content collaboration or whatever. The lowest-hanging fruit is to start engagement with these strategic accounts to get acquainted with them.

The next step is if you have zero connections, you analyze your network, you see that you don’t have common connections, the same that works for us and our clients. It is always reaching out to the champions, not the decision-makers. Forget at this point about the decision-maker. In most cases, we are reaching out to marketers of our department. The reason is that it is very easy to connect. They are always ignored. Everybody wants to get the attention of the CEO and CFO, so you are reaching out to marketers.

I will describe our campaigns. At FullFunnel, we have a FullFunnel Show. It is our podcast. We play the engagement. I’m going to interview some well-known marketers and thought leaders. My cofounder interviews top executives from our target regions from Benelux and the United States. The way how we are doing it and how we are bringing these people to our show is that we create a slide deck for marketers. I know this from the corporate world as well. The marketers are in charge of PR and media coverage. We are helping them to hit that quarter. We reach out and say, “This is what we have launched. These are the guests and topics. We are following you, guys.”

CSP 228 | Consulting Services

 

You should always come prepared. That is why I’m against any volume game. You will say, “I saw this recent news about your company. John Doe would be a good fit to talk about this.” This is how you can identify the decision-maker, as well, “I was wondering who is in charge of this?” We could kill two birds with one stone. You will then start connecting with these people. It is not always but in most cases, you will get feedback. Keep in mind. I mentioned this a couple of times, peers engagement. They say, “Marketers are reaching out to marketers.” That is fine with them. They are eager to help. Always reach out to champions.

There is a key lesson in here, which is the instinct that many people have is to reach out to try and sell or even the mindset is all about sales. Your approach is you are not leading with sales. You are leading first with a connection or something very specific about what is going on in their organization. You are then looking for opportunities or validating who the actual decision-makers are. You can then move that conversation forward to have on your podcast. That is a great approach.

I have a few more questions for you before wrapping up. I wanted to touch on your six-part process at a high level because it is very interesting to see how you approach campaigns from the B2B marketing side. You start with awareness, demand gen, demand capture, activation, client success, and expansion. Can you talk very briefly, even one sentence, on what each of those are and why in that order?

Keep in mind that people are not looking for a consultant in most cases because they don't clearly identify their needs. Click To Tweet

This is what you have described. We call this framework the FullFunnel Marketing. We can chat about my example. You could reach out to everybody. What you will be doing if people will ignore your message is the first one. The second one is that you will always be a beggar. You will beg for a meeting, “Would you like to have a call with me? I can help with this and that.” You have no name. You have zero credibility. Keep this always in mind. That was always the question. You could analyze your inbox and ask yourself, “How many cold emails did you reply to and had the call with people?” That is the first thing.

In most cases, you could always keep in mind that people are not looking for a consultant if they are talking about consultants. Why? It is because they do not clearly identify their need. They do not probably know they have a specific challenge. In our case, they are not hitting their revenue quota or generating enough meetings. They do not really know why. That is the problem. Your goal is to create this awareness that you exist and you can help with solving these challenges. That is the first step and that is why we have this.

We already mentioned several tools. It could be newsletters, guests posts, podcasts, community engagements, and market research. That is the first one. Lots of consultants talk about themselves. They try to brag. They attempt to say, “I need to pause my pitches.” If you want to get attention and create awareness, you need to talk about something that resonates with your audience. We create a document called Map of Informational Needs. You need to understand what exact topics and challenges they might be interested in, and then start talking about these. It’s pretty simple.

You could potentially, even manually distribute this content. If you want, let’s say play our one-to-one play. I will reach out to you and say, “Michael, I posted this of why consultants are struggling to generate meetings. I was curious to hear your thoughts. I will share your LinkedIn post.” I don’t say, “Go to my website and fill in the form.” This is how I attract their attention. You won’t have a 100% positive reply rate but some people will engage, and this is how you create awareness.

The next one is creating demand. I believe there are lots of thoughts about personal trends and lots of people. Handing out on LinkedIn and Twitter, and posting all day long can engage and resolve the content. That is not possible. Having hundreds or thousands of followers is not equal to your bank account. One thing that I always say is I learned it from that fines. He always says, “You can’t pay bills with followers or likes.” That is absolutely true.

For me, the only way to create demand is by sharing how you can help with solving specific challenges and sharing your case studies. Even when you are starting out, you can share case studies from your corporate career. This was my initial approach. I did not have clients, so I talked about the challenges that I solved at Kimberly-Clark with the results and processes. This is the way how you could create demand. The next is you could rely on passive inbound requests because you will be getting them or you could do the practice of social selling. This is what we are doing.

In this case, I would say, “Michael, I checked that you are doing this marketing consulting. I published a case study of how we help one consultant to generate $100,000 in revenue by leveraging LinkedIn and demand gen. I was curious if you have a spare minute to check that case study and provide me feedback.”

You won’t be getting a 100% reply rate but there would be people that will be replying back and saying, “That is a fantastic case study. I love it.” You need to provide as much details as possible. This is the way how you create demand. You don’t have the scarcity mindset, “I should keep all the secrets for myself.” While you are sharing, the better results you will see it. Demand capturing is when they reply back, “I want to learn more.”

In our case, what we used to do is I say, “If you want, this is the incubation part. I have created a content hub that includes the materials on how to grow your consulting business. It is a random idea. I can share it with you. If you want next week, we can plan a call. I would answer your questions about this and also share some ideas on how you can apply this case study to yourself. Let me know if you are interested.” I’m not saying, “This is how it is linked to my calendar. Do you have twenty minutes next week to hang out with me?” I’m saying like, “I have some ideas on how you could apply this framework and I can also answer your questions.”

Would you like to talk about that at that point? That is all you are doing. You mentioned the content hub. I first heard you talk about the content hub when I heard an interview with you and Charles Gaudet talking about that. That, to me, was very interesting. Can you describe it because people are hearing you talk about this content hub? Briefly explain what is a content hub? Is it something that people log into? Is it a website or folder? What is the actual structure of a content hub?

If you want, you can even create that in Evernote or Notion. It is making stand-alone notes. The problem is that Evernote and Notion won’t give you analytics, so you won’t see content engagement. That is why we prefer to use softwares like Papirfly and DocSend. They are very accessible software so they are not very expensive. These are my two recommendations. The goal of this software is, for every single account that we have engagement, we create a dedicated content hub where we put the content that is relevant to their goal or challenge.

We have produced lots of content. I have been on multiple podcasts as a guest. I did lots of talks. These are virtual talks. Instead of saying, “If you want to learn more, go to my blog, check my podcast and YouTube channel,” it won’t work because if people come, they will see the variety of content and lose attention. The goal of the content hub is putting exactly the pieces of content so you create these individual content paths for your prospect.

In our case, we create several sections. I would say section one is a case study or some scale in your consulting business. I discussed that example. I would put some intro, “I’m calling your consulting businesses from that point to that point. This is the case study of Consultant A. This is the case study of Consultant B.” It could be 3, 4 or 5 more increases. These are practical case studies, so people say, “Indeed, this works.” I would put the second section. In our case, it is always parked in FullFunnel.io. Keep in mind that if you are prospecting a midsize enterprise, this content will be shared in-house inside the team, so we add several documents.

The first one is the benefits for the CEO. We describe what are the benefits they might get off work. The next one is the benefits for the marketing team and sales team. In our case, they are influencers or bloggers but they are 100% influencers. Whenever there is a discussion about content marketing, it’s a game for two teams for marketing and sales. The sales opinion is always asked. That is why we created a separate document explaining the benefits and also adding testimonials from salespeople that follow our strategic accounts.

Within that content hub, people could almost imagine it as you go into a special portal or website that you have set up for them. There are going to be different documents in there, audios or videos that you have curated and selected. Some will be case studies. Others will be these reasons. It is almost like an opportunity for you to deal with objections before they come up as well as to provide a lot of value that would help that person to move down the buying path to become more comfortable and increase trust and authority. What is the percentage that uses that content hub heavily? Is this a critical part of the buying process or is it a sign that you use because it is important? You also have a lot of people that do not do much with the content hub, and they will still end up engaging with you.

We have cases when clients attended a bunch of our events and read our blogs. They are following us and they do not need this. They come and say, “That’s time. How can you help us? Let’s start to work.” Even in this case, we create a dedicated content hub for them because if an executive had this buy-in and trust in us that is an in-house team, we do not know what do they think about these engagements. Marketers might be afraid that consultants are common, “We might lose our job.”

We don't sell the program, but we explain the benefits and what exactly how the collaboration will look like. Click To Tweet

We want to overcome all these concerns and objections beforehand. We will then say, “Before we will have our team call, would you mind to share this content hub?” It’s completely different than this case. We don’t sell the program but we explain the benefits and how the collaboration will look like. We also explain that for marketers. We are not going to replace them but we will help them to achieve their goals. These goals will be defined on the first call. We will be working together as a team extension. That is the key.

Content hubs are a mandatory part of our process. If we don’t use them in the activation process, anyhow we are sending them. The best part about the software that I mentioned, Papirfly and DocSend, is you will see the content consumption. Let’s say I shared it with you and then I see you checked a case study with Company A. I see it exactly on the page. Let’s pretend it’s how to create a case study to activate a strategic account. I would say, “Michael, I wanted to hear your feedback about my content hub.”

Quite often, after sharing these case studies, I get a question like, “How to create a case study to activate a strategic account? If this is also a question that you might have, let’s book a new call and I might explain it.” If I know that you shared this content inside your organization, I see new people that are coming from your organization by email domains. I will say, “If you want to bring Charlie, John or whoever to that call, we can discuss this.” That is the way and the huge benefit.

I see how powerful that is being able to see what they are looking at, what is getting their attention, and then bringing that into the conversation. It’s very powerful stuff. To finish off because if I don’t ask you, people would be emailing and saying, “Michael, Andrei did not talk about the 5th and 6th.” It’s the client’s success and then the expansion. Very briefly, could you explain what those are?

In most cases, when you will read about funnels, the funnel ends where the sales happen. We have this hourglass. The truth is that the real relationship starts at this point. You want to help your client to get the maximum out of your product or service. The biggest problem that I’m seeing is lots of companies attempt to say that all their clients are happy by default, which means if they are not complaining, they are happy and satisfied, which is not true. Your goal at this stage is to do several things plus the default is checking the satisfaction because if the customer isn’t satisfied, you want to be able to renew the contract or get paid for a new retainer.

The next one is you want to be able to get a testimonial case study or referral. The second thing that you need to be doing at this point is embedding to your customer in three years. This is crucial because this is the way of how you could learn, “Why did you select me and not another company? Who did you compare at me? What are the values you are getting off this engagement? How are you selecting the vendor? What is your research process look like? What are the most crucial factors that influence your decision? What are the red flags for you?”

These are the most important questions. The more interesting the question, the better you will understand your ideal customer profile. You will be able to update your value proposition. These are crucial parts as well. If you know that clients are getting the value of this engagement, they are getting results. Your goal is to talk about their further goals. I will give you a practical example. If you are selling to a midsize enterprise and they have distributed teams, I’m selling to a branch in one corner.

CSP 228 | Consulting Services

 

I would say, “We have this fantastic engagement. Do you think that we could potentially launch the same campaign in Toronto or in Ottawa?” You get feedback like, “That might be good. Would you mind to make an intro? If we update, can we record a case study with you?” Now, you kill two birds with one stone. You start your podcast with a new case study.

It is very actionable and fantastic. If you have video content, you could repurpose it and create a written piece of content. You get an intro to the same company. You don’t need to do any lead generation. You come and say, “John, meet Andrei. He helped our team to do this and that. These are the results and this is our podcast. Check it.”

You will start this engagement so it is way easier. This is crucial. This is what client success stands for. The expansion exactly is this campaign that I have described. This is the last step. Client success is tracking satisfaction and embedding in-depth interviews to understand better the decision-making process of your core customers. Finally, it is expansion. When you know they are satisfied, you could ask for a referral, testimonial, case study or intro. These are steps 5 and 6.

That expansion part is so critical. I know Andrew Sobel has some very good writing on that topic around client development. Before we wrap up, I have three rapid-fire questions here for you. When you look at your day-to-day, what are 1 or 2 things that you typically do like a consistent habit that you feel contributes to the success that you have and the energy that you bring that allows you to operate at the level that you are able to?

Client success is tracking satisfaction and embedding in-depth interviews to better understand the decision-making process of your core customers. Click To Tweet

There is one crucial thing that I’m doing every single day, LinkedIn and demand gen. What does it mean? Every day, I post content. We have a specific framework for this. We call that LinkedIn Marketing Potential. I do the engagement the way I have described. I try reaching out sometimes manually to some strategic accounts. I also do engagement with my peers and some strategic thought leaders. I do it every single day. Remember, I mentioned I didn’t have a website for GetLeado for almost three years. My core website was my LinkedIn profile and a link to Evernote that describes my consulting services.

Do you plan out what you are going to write about the night or weeks before, or do you sit down in the morning and decide, “What am I going to talk about on LinkedIn?”

Usually, every Friday, I plan the content for the next week but sometimes, I have a backlog of ideas. If some ideas come to my mind, I add them to the backlog, and then on Friday, I structure it. The reason why it works for me is that almost every week, I’m featured on different podcasts. I always want to help my fellow podcasters to promote it, so I schedule it as well as we produce new content. We have lots of events. That’s the plan.

What is the best book that you read or listened to? It could be fiction or nonfiction.

I will refer to the book I’m finishing. It’s a book by Dorie Clark called The Long Game. It is very good for consultants. I highly recommend to check it.

Where should people go to learn more about you? What is the one resource or place where they can learn more about you and your work?

It is FullFunnel.io/block, where they can access all the articles that we have ever published. Open LinkedIn and type, @AndreiZinkevich.

Andrei, it is great to have you on. I enjoyed our conversation. Thanks for sharing some of your wisdom and experiences with us.

Thank you so much for the fantastic questions for our chat.

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