Selling Yourself as a Consultant

Author : Steve Polen
Published: April 28, 2012

On the beach or on board, fishing for new clients or on-site, a consultant’s main job is selling his skills and his ideas. It’s a matter of survival. We tend to get caught up in cases and forget the very basics of client seduction. Let’s return to the fundamentals.

1- Ask

Asking a potential client a question draws them in. It makes them part of the conversation and gives you ammunition with which to make your pitch.

If you’re droning on about yourself without talking to them, you’ve already sent the signal that you wouldn’t be a good business partner.

Ask questions that are personal, business related, about networking, anything to get them going and talking with you.

2- Listen

While it’s good to get them to talk, you must be an active listener! Most questions you ask should segue into new topics that lead you down a path to picking up the client. While you can script every question, a loose paradigm should help you guide the conversation in the direction you want it to go.

For example, if the potential client mentions trouble balancing work and life, ask, “What would you rather be doing with your time?” This doesn’t immediately make her your client, but lets you delve deeper into what she is really thinking.

3- Be Confident

Clients want to work with consultants who appear successful, so make it your job then and there to convert this prospect into a partner, customer, client, or member of your team.

Provide color; help them visualize the success story with concrete examples. If you can exude confidence and enthusiasm, then you will project success.

4- Close the Deal

If you’ve had a productive conversation, reflect on all that you have learned from the discussion and determine if this case is a good use of your time. If you are sure that this person would be a good client, get a proposal on the way.

Writing a strong proposal that doesn’t give too much away is key. Listen to the prospect’s reaction to your ideas and understand his standpoint. You need to understand his concerns. The more you are able to put yourself in your client’s shoes, the best you can retarget your proposal towards his sore spots.

Follow up, be persistent but yet respectful, adapt yourself as the conversation goes and seal the deal. That’s when you will be considered to have golden client hands.

Related article: Read the Art of Persuasion in Consulting by Wendy Howard.

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