People face problems – real problems they may or may not see ... problems you might help them fix. If you're not fully established yet, then you must pitch your services to people who haven't fully realized that they need you.
Trouble is, people are naturally reluctant to pay for advice. And that's easy enough to understand.
Consulting is often a service without tangible end product. Either the topic is unfamiliar territory, in which case gauging the value of consulting is tricky; or else it seems deceptively familiar, like something they could do themselves to some extent. Maybe they simply have no space for consulting in their budget; so while they'd appreciate your advice, they're not ready to pay for your time giving it to them or gaining expertise.
Right there, you have 4 points to make:
(1) Emphasize results you'd like to help a client achieve. That's a more tangible goal for them to focus on.
(2) Help them estimate the value of those hypothetical results.
(3) Explain why going solo, winging it without a consultant, can be risky. No scare tactics necessary. You can point to plenty of non-clients with problems. And you can ask your prospective client what difficulties (if any) they're facing.
(4) Connect the dots. If you add value, then the cost of hiring you should pay for itself.
Yes, it would be helpful to start out as a celebrity with an amazing track record of successful past clients. However, all that really counts is whether you can help the next person and convince them to value that help.
So here's the main issue: people get started in consulting (or SaaS development, too often) as a solution in search of a problem.
The "consultant" is good with a hammer, so to them everything starts to look like a nail. They apply a "one size fits all" band-aid approach to every situation. And that's bad.
What group of people/businesses has a problem they acknowledge exists, that you can fix?
That middle part was key, BTW. They have to admit they have the problem. If they don't, no amount of you jumping up and down insisting they do will make them buy.
So Find The Problem First. What are the significant things the target market complains about that you could fix? THEN match up your problem-solving abilities that you could consult with them on to fix with.
These are called "pain points" and you can get them from information interviews. Lots of info about those and how to do them on my blog here:
You want to know the exact words and phrases the target market uses to describe their problems.
See, as a consultant, you still have to market your services. No escaping that.
So repeating the exact words and phrases your target market uses to describe their pain back at them is the most powerful marketing tool you can develop. "Hey, *I* say that!" they tell themselves when they hear your marketing message. It resonates with them. You get instant credibility, because how could you know what you just said if you hadn't worked with someone like them, and differentiation--which means you can charge higher prices.
If you want to explore this process, get a specific plan together, and figure out how to approach your target market, book a call. Otherwise it's likely you'll be fumbling around in the dark for awhile.
Don't wait to be crowned as a consultant. Start today. You are now officially a consultant. Now that that part is over, get your first customer and start learning what it takes to get better and better.
I am not trying to sell you on calling me. Really, I am pretty busy with my businesses and consulting. However, I need more info before I could have a greater impact in helping you.
Ask, Ask, Ask, then Ask again.
Here is $10,000 worth of information for free and in a nutshell.
Concentrate on the 3 M's. There are actually 7, but 3 will do for now. These are Market, Message, and Media. They come in that order.
Who is your target market (customer, clients, buyers, users, etc.)?
Tailor your laser focused message for this target market.
What is the best media mix to get your message to that market?
Here's what you do...first, make it an offer that is so incredible that they cannot resist. Secondly, do all the work for them. Make it so easy to make the purchase now that they can do it virtually without effort. Thirdly, give them an incentive to act right now. Fourthly, offer an almost unbelievable guarantee. Fifth, offer a bonus for acting now. There are many other incredible steps, but these steps should help the novice to the professional sell anything.
Whether you are selling B2B or B2C, you have to focus on selling to only one person. You can actually sell to one person at a time while selling to millions at a time. They are one and the same. Don't get off track, what we call digital marketing selling is just selling in print. And that has not changed since Cluade Hopkins wrote "Scientific Advertising." Really long before he wrote the book.
The secret to success: I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with some of the biggest names in business, celebrities, actors, entrepreneurs, business people, and companies from startup to billion dollar operations. The number one reason for their success is doing what they know and love while doing it in new, creative, and innovative ways.
Ask, Ask, Ask. Have thick skin and learn from each "mistake." In a short while, the market will tell you what you need to do and who and what you need to ask. But get started now even if that just means asking a contact on LinkedIn.
While you are thinking, think big and think of something at least 1% better, newer, or different. And being cheaper is not a winning strategy.
Make decisions quickly and change decisions slowly..unless you are actually going off a cliff.
Remember these two 11 letter words...persistence and consistency. They are two of the most important tools ever invented.
Treat everybody you talk to and everybody you meet (including yourself) like each is your number one million dollar customer.
Bootstrap when possible and reasonable. Read "How To Get Rich" by Felix Dennis. Or better yet just remember the camel's nose in the tent story.
However, sometimes you just need to make a deal.
Listen, in any business you have to take some chances and some risks. Make sure you don't need a license and go for it. Remember, timid business people have skinny kids. Paraphrased from Zig Ziglar.
Best of luck,
Take massive action and never give up.
Michael Irvin, MBA, RN