You’ll see consultancy business developers in client meetings, mostly ‘selling’ their services. It’s a rookie mistake. Here’s why.
While Apple can pitch their new fancy pants, colour iMac, and get customers drooling for the new, new thing … buying consultancy is different. Take note, nobody wakes up in the morning with the ‘desire’ to buy a new consultancy project.
Recognise that clients buy consultancy because there’s an issue.
It may be the need for insight, so they can make a strategic decision. It may be the need for know-how and experience, so they can make a decision about how best to tackle things. It might be because they need skills, or capacity, they don’t have available in house. Or some combination of these.
You can’t just ‘sell’ these things in the same way you might a product. That’s leading with a solution when you don’t know what the problem is.
However, business developers become comfortable pitching from a script – talking about their ‘unique’ process, expertise and ‘we done good’ case-studies.
I’m not sure why clients tolerate this kind of self-promotion, perhaps they’re just polite.
So, what do you do instead … if you want influence the client’s agenda.
A mini-mission for you.
1. Make a list three, or four, issues clients are likely to recognise. [My list is: ‘proposals that disappear into black-holes’, ‘clients ghosting you after showing interest’, ‘not being able to forge meaningful connections with clients you know you can help’.]
2. Next time you’re talking with a client introduce some of those issues. Ask them how they experience them in their organisation. You’re now influencing the direction of the conversation … with integrity and without pitching.
3. Where do you go after that? Listening and asking a great question perhaps. Then you might enquire whether the client would like to hear your perspective. Because you’ve given them your attention they’re more likely to be interested and give you their’s.
4. Now you can offer a point-of-view, backed up by case examples and experiences. Remembering to stay on the issue and not pitch a solution. You might conclude by asking the client if your perspective has given them useful insights, what they are considering next, and if they’re open to a conversation about how you might help with that.
This is a collaborative conversation and entirely different to a ‘listen to my pitch’ one. If you’re ready to have an impact, do something different. Let me know how it goes.