Wondering how to sell consulting services?
Last Friday evening, I got a call from one of our neighbors inviting my daughter to join them to sell lemonade.
My daughters are six years old and three years old, and they were thrilled to get this invitation.
So, the entire evening, they were looking forward to waking up the next day and going to sell lemonade with the neighbor’s kids.
When you think about kids selling lemonade, what’s the most important thing?
It’s not the product.
No one expects to have the best lemonade of their life when you’re buying it on the street corner from a bunch of kids.
That Saturday morning, I walked up the block with my wife and kids.
The sun was shining, there was greenery and trees all around us, and we enjoyed a slight breeze.
It was just a beautiful day to sell lemonade. Something that I haven’t done in many, many years.
In this post, I’ll talk about our success in selling lemonade — and explain the parallels between selling lemonade and how to sell your consulting services.
In this post, I’ll talk about our success in selling lemonade…
…and reveal 5 surprising consulting sales lessons that you can use TODAY to generate more consulting revenue.
(Listen to the podcast version of this blog post below)
Our neighbors had a table ready for the kids to start selling their lemonade.
But the first thing that I noticed was how they positioned the table: it was on the street right in front of their house. Almost in the middle of the block.
There were still more houses before you would reach the intersection. This position stood out to me.
The cars driving by would hardly be able to see them.
If the kids wanted to sell lemonade, they would need to move to a location with more visibility.
Instead of suggesting to them that they move, I asked them a question. That’s the consultant in me — always asking questions.
So, I asked them: “Do you think this is the best location to put the table?”
“Well, maybe not. What do you think?”
I suggested they moved their lemonade stand to a more visible location. Since they were in front of a house instead of at an intersection, it would be hard for cars to stop and for people to see them.
“If you move up the block and set up shop at the intersection, I think you might get more customers. Cars on four different routes would see you.”
That’s the first consulting lesson I want to share with you here today.
It’s critical for you to be visible.
You can have a great product.
You can be exceptionally talented in your area of expertise.
You can know how to deliver great value — and deliver great results.
But people — your clients — need to know that you exist.
Your ideal clients need to know that you are available to help them to solve the problems that they have and to help them to reach the goals and desires that are on their minds.
If they don’t know that you exist, if you’re not on their radar, then they’re not going to engage with you.
So the first thing we did was to move the table up the block and position it so that the kids would be more visible.
And with that in mind, hopefully, to generate some more interaction with people — and to sell more lemonade.
Our neighbors did a fantastic job with the lemonade.
The mother freshly squeezed the lemons. The neighbor’s daughter even brought some mint from their garden.
The lemonade was actually a great product — a much higher quality than people would typically expect from a bunch of kids on the street selling lemonade.
But guess what happened next?
The kids were visible — but they were silent.
They were standing around, waiting for people to come up to the table and order some lemonade…
…but no one came.
I went into coaching mode.
I started to demonstrate rather than just tell them what to do.
You hear that classic story that it’s better to teach someone how to fish rather than give them a fish.
So I showed them how to start getting people’s attention as they were walking or driving by.
“Lemonade, lemonade, come get some lemonade!”
As cars went by, I’d point to the table with my hands.
I’d show each passerby that there are some kids here selling lemonade. I was getting into it.
I encouraged all four kids to try. And then, a few other kids started to come by from the neighborhood. They wanted to participate and help out as well.
What happened next?
Adult or child, regardless — they hesitated.
And that’s what most people do when they attempt something new.
I had demonstrated and shown them what to do. I encouraged them to try. But they weren’t really comfortable with the idea.
Because it’s something that they haven’t done before.
It’s not that normal to just start calling out to strangers. You’re usually taught not to engage and talk to strangers.
And here I was, encouraging them to call out: to sing a bit of a song and get people’s attention.
They weren’t comfortable with it the same way that many consultants aren’t comfortable with reaching out to ideal clients and promoting themselves.
But what happened next was really interesting.
People actually started to come by and order some lemonade.
The kids learned that by taking this action of trying to get in front of people and getting on their radar — letting them know that they were here selling lemonade and getting their attention — that people started to actually come over and order lemonade.
The kid saw that this was working. They were excited by it. They started to sing out and attract customers.
“Lemonade, lemonade, come get your lemonade!”
They even began running towards people, saying “Hey, we’re selling lemonade, come and get some.”
(I have a vision right now of my three-year-old running. Thankfully, she was able to help chase customers down — and not fall on the pavement!)
And people would come back and get some lemonade. Some customers who were driving saw the kids pointing and jumping. So they pulled over, got out of their cars, and bought some lemonade.
This illustrates another critical lesson for consultants.
To sell your services, you need to initiate conversations: do outreach, and be consistent with your outreach and follow up.
You can have a great product. And you can even be visible in your market.
You might post some content on LinkedIn. You might publish some blog posts. You might go to events.
But if you’re just waiting for people to see what you are doing and come to you, it’s not going to work as well as also reaching out to people and initiating conversations on your own.
Taking the initiative to build relationships, follow-up, and being consistent is a key to success in the consulting business.
You’re Not Just A Consultant
You might be uncomfortable taking the initiative to build these relationships.
You might feel that reaching out to people or promoting yourself is “too salesy” — or not the way that you do things.
I would encourage and respectfully ask you to remember that you are in business.
Think about your legacy, your impact, and expanding your capacity.
You’re an entrepreneurial consultant. You can’t afford to just think about your work. You must adopt the mindset of working ON your business, not just in the business.
Whether you’re selling consulting services or lemonade, it’s the same principle.
You can be visible, but you also need to go out there and take the initiative to talk to people.
Grab people’s attention and encourage them to come and see what you have to offer.
Go out there and start conversations yourself.
The Perception Of Value
The kids did extremely well.
The neighbor’s father came by and set up some music and a small bubble machine.
On top of the superb lemonade, the stand was an experience. And people loved it.
Other neighbors came by and commented on how much they enjoyed the stand. One group of neighbors — two adults and a child with their dog — walked by and danced to the music.
“This is such a great experience. You guys have got so much going on here!” the mother remarked.
Because it was different from the typical lemonade stand.
It wasn’t just a kid offering generic lemonade from sugar crystals. There was much more than that.
There was a whole environment: bubbles, music, the delicious minty flavor, the sign on the table, people moving — and the kids even brought some drums to play.
Because of all that, people loved it. It was a premium lemonade experience!
I know it sounds funny, but that’s what it became.
The lemonade stand was by donation. If people didn’t have money, the kids still gave them a cup of lemonade.
But many people were generous.
Some people gave $1, $2, or even $5+ more for a cup of lemonade. And a few people bought a couple of cups.
Sometimes the kids got the math wrong — they’d get money for one cup and they’d give somebody two cups. But it’s all good; it was part of the experience.
The lesson here is that when you provide a valuable and premium environment and experience, it positions your service at a premium level. At this level, people are willing — and even expect — to pay more for it.
If the kids showed up with nothing but a table and some lemonade, you might feel generous.
But the environment and experience would not have been the same without the music, the bubbles, the kids playing the instruments, and the fresh mint in the lemonade.
All of those extras increase the perception of value. Clients are expecting and willing to invest more for a premium experience.
Think about how this might work in your consulting business.
How can you provide a more premium experience for your business? How can you increase the perception of value?
That starts from things like your website, your content, your branding and visuals, the experience or service you provide, how you onboard clients, gifts that you might send them, your level of communication, etc.
There are so many different ways to create that kind of experience and to increase that perception of value.
And when you do that, clients are willing — and even expecting — to invest more into you.
Imperfect Action: Apply These Lessons To Sell Your Consulting Services
In just over an hour, the kids sold all their lemonade. It was time to go home.
We suggested that our neighbors keep the proceeds because they had been the ones that bought all the supplies and organize everything.
Later that afternoon, I received an email from the father of the kids.
He said that the kids had hauled in just over $50 in an hour.
Wow! In an hour, the kids made a whopping $50 selling lemonade!
I thought that was incredible.
Even more amazing; the next day, the neighbor’s daughter came to our place and told me she was giving half of the money to a charity.
At first, I didn’t understand what she was saying.
So, I asked her again: “You’re giving your money to a charity?”
“Yes!” she cheered.
I was blown away. What a fantastic experience for the kids.
We, as consultants, can take inspiration from lessons and from everything that happens around us.
If you keep your mind open, and you actively seek out these lessons from stories, you’ll find them anywhere.
Take the lessons from this story, and apply them to your business:
- Be Visible: Put yourself out there and make sure your ideal clients know you exist.
- Speak Up: Take the initiative and start conversations with your ideal clients.
- Act Like A Business Owner: Understand that sales and marketing are a part of your job as a consulting business owner.
- Increase Your Perceived Valuable: Do everything in your power to provide a great experience for your clients.
If you apply these 4 lessons in your business, you’ll have much more success selling your consulting services.