From Door to Door Salesman to International Leadership Consulting with John Murphy: Podcast #15

If the top of the CEO ladder doesn’t satisfy like you hoped it would, it’s time to create your own consulting success.


John Murphy is the man behind John Murphy International, a France-based business that is focused on helping global companies create winning teams. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, John started his business in Ireland 13 years ago and moved to the south of France after realizing that one of the great perks of consulting was that he could base his business anywhere.

Prior to starting his business, John was climbing the ladder in the corporate world.  He began as a door-to-door salesman, and progressed to sales manager, sales director, and eventually marketing director before becoming a CEO for a finance company. During this time he recognized that, while the corporate world had been very good to him, the view from the top wasn’t exactly what he thought it was going to be.

Although the leap from the corporate world to independent consulting seems like a daunting one, John says it was made easier because he felt compelled to take the leap. We talk about making the leap, the best place to find clients, and the greatest key to business development growth on the episode of the Consulting Success Podcast with John Murphy.

Taking the Leap

The corporate world is a secure place to enjoy a career, but for CEOs like John, taking the leap away from the corporate world and into the unknown may be a move that you simply have to make. After working your way to the top, you, like John, may find that there is more you can accomplish with your skills and talents. Two years before he started his own company, John felt that he needed to step away from his secure place in the corporate world and try something new.

Even if there is nothing fundamentally wrong with your current company or organization, many consultants feel at some point that they simply don’t want to remain someone else’s employee indefinitely. John felt that desire to ‘create something for himself.’ He wanted something beyond what the corporate world has to offer, and after a period of time, John Murphy International was born. If you’ve ever felt compelled to leave your successful corporate job and create something new, you’ll want to hear John’s story. Although it seems counterintuitive, he was even willing to leave his job even before his new company was in place and in our conversation he shares why.

Finding Clients in Surprising Places

Once John Murphy International was established, John needed to find clients. It was at this point when he received a very relevant piece of advice from a friend, who said, “You won’t get business in the places you think you will, and you will get business in very surprising places.” He found out that that was exactly true, and after placing a huge number of sales calls, he secured some of his first work with Johnson & Johnson. His approach was not exactly a scientific one — by simply placing as many calls as he could and asking people if they could recommend him to anyone else, he landed the client that he was looking for.

It may sound too good to be true, but we dug deep into the ways that John found his first clients — 50% of the people that he worked with in the first year were people that he’d never worked with before, and I really wanted to hear John explanation of how that was possible. Many consultants are uncomfortable making the calls, reaching out to potential clients, and doing the follow-up that is necessary for acquiring new work, but, as I’ve said many times before, that is the most essential step to getting more work. John’s story proves what I’ve said to be true — you have to be willing to get out there and make the connections in order to get the work you’ve been dreaming of. By simply increasing the volume of calls, emails, or connections you make, you will be able to secure the work you’ve been seeking.

Don’t Take Your Foot Off the Accelerator

Simply reaching out to a prospective client once just isn’t good enough. Too many consultants slow their efforts down when they start to feel comfortable with where their company is at, but the minute that you take your foot off the accelerator, you are going to lose the momentum that you’ve worked so hard to build up in your company. On the other hand, if you are willing to make phone call after phone call, email after email, or connection after connection, then you are going to achieve consulting success. John started out 13 years ago, but he says that the methods for securing clients haven’t really changed that much over the years. A consultant who is willing to do the work is going to be a successful consultant.

Earning Your Referrals

Referrals come easily when you’re doing good work for your clients. That is the first and key step to getting more referrals for more work. If you maintain the mindset that you are always going to add value to the client that you’re working with, and always do your best work, then you will create a business that clients want to do more business with. The better work you do, and the better you know the company that you’re working for, the easier the referrals will come. John has many insights into the ways that your contributions can add value to any company that you’re working for, starting with looking for opportunities to refer yourself over to various departments within the company. That’s his first suggestion, but be sure to listen for the other ways that you can find and earn referrals with every client you work with.

The Key to Business Development Growth

Often we think of obtaining new clients as the best and only way to grow a business, but in my conversation with John, we unearth the reasons why that mentality is wrong. You won’t want to miss the great discussion we have about the importance of business development growth within the companies that you are already doing business with. These are the companies that you’ve already invested your time and skills in, and by deepening your understanding and relationship with these companies, you’re creating greater value for the company and for yourself.

Before you think about going after new clients, ask yourself what opportunities are available within current or previous clients that you should consider first. Find out where the company is growing and shrinking, opening and closing, reorganizing, restructuring and investing, then use that information to become a more informed advisor to the company and to create more consulting work for yourself. There are undoubtedly already needs within the company that you’re currently working with — taking advantage of the work where you’ve already established a relationship means working smarter and finding more success for yourself.

Grow Your Consulting Business from Anywhere

One of the greatest benefits of being a consultant is the ability to base your business from anywhere in the world. When John realized that he was getting into a bit of a consulting rut in Ireland, he moved his business to the south of France to shake things up. By making a physical change he was inspired to shift his business focus and grow his business the ways he needed to. There were definitely trade-offs that had to be made by moving to another country, but his determination to making this virtual business model work drove him to succeed. The risk was worth the reward as not only did he not lose any clients, he was able to strengthen the working relationship that he had in place with his existing clients. To hear more about how this shift enabled John to grow his business in the ways he wanted, you’ll have to listen to our conversation.

Don’t Be Afraid to Challenge Your Clients

Too often clients resist the suggestions made to them by brilliant and effective consultants like you because they are used to the way things have always been. If you’ve faced rejection from a client — whether it’s your pricing model, how you approach work, or where you are working from — don’t be afraid to push back and remind them why they should put their trust in your new ideas. You can never forget — there is a reason you are the consultant. If you can convince your clients to try new things, you will add value to their business and to the work that you’re doing for them. This approach has worked for John, it’s worked for me, and it can work for you — if you are willing to take the risk.

Stay On Top of Your Game — Two Ways

Staying at the top of your game is essential when perfecting your consulting business. In our conversation, John shares two key ways that he has been able to stay focused on his work.  First, remember that a business is a dynamic thing — it’s always changing and growing. If you constantly examine how you are growing and changing with your business, you will be motivated to tweak and change your business to be its best as it grows. Trying new things means that you’re giving the best business possible to your current clients as well as the clients that you will get in the future.

Second, find a mentor. Working by yourself may lull you into a comfortable state while working with a mentor who will challenge you to become more than you currently are is key to staying on top of your game. I’ve worked with John for a number of years, and he shares how the mastermind group that we’ve created has improved his approach to work. He says being challenged has kept him fresh, and he explains why. You’ll want to hear what has worked for him and more, all on this episode of the Consulting Success Podcast with John Murphy.

Key Takeaways:

[:15] Introducing John Murphy, former CEO who felt compelled to leave the corporate world.

[5:58] You may find clients in unexpected places.

[10:35] Discomfort comes with reaching out.

[13:05] Factors that play into getting a good stream of referrals.

[17:13] The smarter approach to business development growth.

[18:15] Working remotely may force you to improve business.

[23:32] Push back when your ideas are rejected.

[25:10] Stay at the top of your game by doing these two things.

Mentioned in This Episode:

John Murphy International


“The journey was great, but the destination wasn’t everything I thought it was going to be.”  — John Murphy


“The world needs another consultant like it needs a hole in the head… but there’s always room for a good one.”  — John Murphy


“You’re only going to get referrals if you’re doing excellent work with the clients that you’re working with.”  — John Murphy


“The more you know about an organization, the more you can help them.” — John Murphy


“There’s a reason you became a consultant.” — Michael Zipursky


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