Your consulting questions answered (see my brain in action)

Your consulting questions answered (see my brain in action)

Today, I want to share a couple consulting questions people have asked me, and answer them in depth. Before I get to the actual questions though, I want to share a story with you.

Back on August 28, 1859, George Bissell and Edwin L. Drake drilled the first commercially successful oil well; that well sparked the oil boom in western Pennsylvania.

Among the speculators, investors, roughnecks, and businessmen who flocked to the area was a man who would later become one of the richest men in the world: John D. Rockefeller.

Though Rockefeller started out as a lowly bookkeeper, he soon built up a successful produce trading partnership. From trading produce, Rockefeller graduated to refining oil, and eventually built the Standard Oil Company.

But what allowed Rockefeller to go from bookkeeper, to commodities trader. to oil refiner, to eventually creating an oil monopoly and becoming one of the world’s richest men?

What was it?

Why didn’t Rockefeller just stick with bookkeeping, or trading produce and dry goods? Why wasn’t he just another oil refiner during western Pennsylvania’s oil boom?

What allowed him to achieve so much?

Wealthy pedigree? Nope–his family was poor and his father was a shady snake-oil salesman.

Was it powerful connections, or brilliant strategy, or amazing luck? Partly, but that’s not what got him started.

What made the difference?

Mindset.

And that’s the biggest reason I’m sharing these consulting questions and answers. Yes, I love answering your questions and giving you tactical advice. But I also want to give you some insight into how I think, since mindset is often more important than the actual tactics I hand out.

The most successful people focus on mindset, rather than just the tactics. Without the right mindset, you won’t get far.

For example, I could tell you all about how to use cold-calling to find prospects. But without the right mindset, you’d likely stay stuck, fail to take action, wouldn’t get any results, and would think that the tactics are useless and ineffective.

You wouldn’t realize that there’s a deeper problem, a more important secret to succeeding.

Without changing your mindset, you wouldn’t learn how to address your inner fears and limiting beliefs.

So, mindset is huge.

Your consulting questions answered

With all that said, I’ve picked these consulting questions for a couple reasons:

  • they show common problems I’ve heard from lots of you, and
  • concrete examples often provide better instruction than generalities.

So, our first question comes from Maria M., who said this in response to my recent survey:

What specifically have you done to find prospects?
Do a web search of all companies in my area that offer services related to what I do. Then send emails.

What were the results of your actions?
So far I have not got a call back.

What specifically do you want to know about finding prospects and getting clients?
How to pitch my services without “selling” them but make the client see the value in my services. I personally hate when someone tries to “sell” me anything and I am afraid others will see me as just another annoying salesman.

There are several things going on here:

  • You’ve found some prospects on the web, and sent emails, but haven’t gotten any response. How many prospects did you find? Who specifically did you email (did you email info@company.com or target a specific person)? Did you target the decision maker? How many emails did you send? What did your emails say? Did you do any follow-up? If so, what was the response? (Incidentally, my Client Pipeline Mastery course, which will re-open later this month, covers, among other things, marketing channels and finding prospects).
  • Notice how specific I’m being. You need to pay attention to each step in your process so you can evaluate why you might be getting those results.
  • Next, you’ll want to test different approaches. Maybe you need to contact a larger number of prospects to get more data. What about calling on the phone? Or LinkedIn? Or referrals? Or changing the subject line or body of your email. Test, then adjust based on what you find. Once you get some response, what can you tweak to improve your results? 
  • Last, there’s the issue of selling without the sleaze. The best selling seeks first to understand, then deliver massive value before asking for anything. Ideally, the prospect will ask YOU how soon you can start. If your prospects don’t feel understood, like you have THEIR best interests in mind, and that you aren’t providing value, you won’t convert them to a client. (Again, these topics (finding your prospects’ biggest problems, and talking with prospects to convert them) are covered in Client Pipeline Mastery.)

Next consulting question

Our next consulting question comes from Steven, who said this:

What specifically have you done to find prospects?
Set up a website, Created a course that I will be teaching at [xyz] University to industry professionals. Busy with other industry professionals setting up an association.

What were the results of your actions?
Not sure yet s.l.o.w.l.y unfolding?

What specifically do you want to know about finding prospects and getting clients?
I’m working in a brand new industry (content strategy) which is still woefully embryonic yet it is probably one of the fastest growing industries around. And there are numerous clients who do need my services but I’m also new to Canada and finding it difficult to find, meet and connect with influential individuals who could recommend my services. So at the moment feeling somewhat overwhelmed and out of my depth.

Again, there are a few issues at play:

  • Like Maria’s consulting question, you’ll need to evaluate what you’re doing, then test and adjust to see what creates different results. The fact that things are happening so slowly tells me that you need to adjust your approach.
  • Also along those lines, you’ll want to track results from each action (website vs. university course vs. networking) to see where you’re getting the best results. If nothing’s happening, you may need more data (i.e., contact more prospects, since your response rate may be very low) and/or need to adjust what you’re doing. (Again, Client Pipeline Mastery covers how to find and use marketing channels and finding prospects; I’ll schedule a webinar or 2 later this month to go into more detail and give some more Q&A, so keep your eyes peeled for the announcement.)
  • Yes, content strategy is a fast-growing niche. But why are you focusing only on Canada? Do U.S. companies not need content strategy? Do you need to focus locally? My guess is that you could broaden your targeting outside Canada, since content strategy is something that lots of companies (not just Canadian companies) could benefit from. Unless you’re focusing specifically on Canadian industries, like maple syrup, hockey, or beer. (I grew up across the Detroit River from Windsor, Ontario, and that about exhausts my knowledge of Canadian stereotypes… :)
  • You may also want to fine-tune and re-evaluate your niche. Remember, your niche is NOT your deliverable, it’s WHO NEEDS your deliverable, skill set, and/or expertise. What’s the ideal company who could use your services? Figure that out, and then target those organizations (Yes, Client Pipeline Mastery also goes into depth on how to identify a profitable niche.).
  • Lastly, it sounds like you’re overwhelmed, which can undermine your confidence. In working with lots of former students, they’ve found that getting more specific about their niche and gaining a deeper understanding of their niche helps clarify how they can help their market. That understanding builds confidence, as does simply continuing to reach out to your market.

OK, we’ve covered a lot of ground.

I’m going to answer more of your questions in the coming weeks, since so many of you have told me how it’s helped you get unstuck.

Want me to answer YOUR questions?

I can do that. Take a minute right now to answer this short survey.

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