Why are some coaches and consultants able to command a king’s ransom for their services and still have more work than they can handle? Clients call them. They earn six-figure incomes. They take annual vacations and pay themselves a regular salary. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But, how do you get there? What is it that these highly successful coaches and consultants do differently?
Simply put, top earning professionals encourage people to want to do business with them by delivering outstanding value at the most unexpected moments in their interactions with both prospects and clients. And they do this at all three stages of an engagement… before, during and after.
Let me explain…
Before the project begins…
Successful coaches and consultants set the stage for a quality client experience even before they write a proposal.
- They tune into a prospective client’s frustrations and validate those concerns. They listen closely when a client talks about desired results and obstacles they face in achieving them. They take notes. They drill down to discover the real cause of the client’s issues. By doing this, they show the prospective client that they UNDERSTAND their situation. This creates a huge amount of value in the client’s mind.
- A lot of coaches and consultants charge into an initial meeting with a prospective client focused only on that they’re going to say, their presentation and how they are going to win the business. Instead, highly successful coaches and consultants focus on the client’s situation by asking questions. What type of questions?
Questions no one has ever asked the prospect before…
These are not the types of questions their employees will ask. They are not the types of questions that most coaches and consultants will ever ask. If you want to demonstrate huge value to your prospective clients, you must ask provocative questions. Here are some examples we’ve used at the One Page Business Plan Company:
- What have you done to prepare yourself or your team for the next 90 days?
- How successful have you been in cascading your objectives throughout your organization?
- What have you done to change/raise the level of the thinking in your organization?
- If they are a solo entrepreneur… Do you pay yourself a regular salary?
- Are you working on the right things? Have the right goals?
By now you are probably asking yourself… how can you ask such provocative business questions without coming across as threatening or pushy? My friend Jim Horan, president of The One Page Business Plan Company says that you can ask almost any question if you come from a place of honest curiosity and with the client’s best interest in mind.
Asking these types of questions adds to the perceived value of your services in two ways. First, by demonstrating that you have a depth of expertise in these areas (because you already know the answers) and by letting the prospective client know that you are capable of providing a big picture solution, not a cheap band aid.
Successful coaches and consultants use the information gathered from the questions asked in items 1 and 2 above to craft rock-solid proposals that spell out exactly what will happen at each stage of the engagement. They detail a crystal clear blueprint of how they work. Some clients view coaching and consulting as a nebulous, smoke and mirrors services that can’t be pinned down. But when you set clear expectations and spell out the value the client will receive, your client will feel more confident about signing a contract with you. Specifics will make something that is abstract seem more concrete.
While you are delivering the engagement
- If a project is going to have a quick turnaround, it might be enough to set a deadline and get to work. But if a project is going to stretch beyond a week — especially if it’s a first-time project for a new client… it’s a good idea to establish some milestones and keep the client updated as you go along.
- Use your client’s preferred mode of communication to provide updates. How often and where would your client like updates? Email? Text? A quick phone call? Find out how they want to hear from you and keep them abreast of progress.
- Deliver more. One major sign of high value is when you over-deliver on what you promise. Do extra competitive research. Deliver the project a day or two early. Make a few extra suggestions about how your client could use your work. The idea is to add value to what you offer… making it more attractive to the prospective client and more like a tangible product by delivering extra communication at every step of the way.
- Real value to the client is provided when you:
- Solve people problems
- Help a client successfully take advantage of an opportunity
- Create a change in a team’s/client’s behavior
- Lead the client to or past their stated goals
If your engagement or working sessions with a client includes one or more of these four items, they will want to do even more business with you. If not, you are just another coach or consultant with consultations, recommendations, and reports that accomplish little or nothing.
After the engagement wraps up
Once you have delivered on your promise and (hopefully) gone above and beyond your client’s expectations, you’re not finished with delivering a quality experience.
- Put a post-engagement follow-up system in place. If you’re delivering web copy, give it a look once it’s published online and send a quick note to your client to let him know it looks great. If you’re delivering a business plan, include regular monthly reviews as part of your package. If you have helped them with a career change, check in a few weeks later to see how it’s going.
- Coaches and consultants become successful when they find ways to deliver unexpected value during every stage of communication… even the unglamorous ones like estimating the price of a new project or following up after a project is concluded.
So here are the provocative questions I will ask you…
- Do you have a list of the ways you add value to client interactions?
- Do you have provocative questions of your own that you can ask next time you are in front of a prospective new client?
Coaches and consultants like you are joining The Consultant’s Connection group on LinkedIn every day. I’ve designed the free group to help you make the most of their business… to help you position yourself and your offerings… so you can build profitable coaching or consulting business.