There are many coaches, consultants and other professionals. There are thousands doing the same thing as you.
What separates you from them?
How do you stand out from the rest? Whether you’re consulting small businesses to grow or a life coach helping executives in transition, you need to stand out.
Because if you’re boring or otherwise bland, you’re not memorable and they will equate that with not being able to help them. Don’t be boring.
Otherwise, you’re just like everyone else.
But it’s not easy. It requires some heavy lifting to say something other than “I’m a coach” or “I’m a consultant” or “I’m a lawyer.” Which is all about you…and nobody cares about you until they know you care about them (thanks Zig).
That spotlight we talked about before, it needs to go back to them and stay there. Keeping the spotlight on your audience, whether it’s one person in line at a coffee shop, or 500 people during a training, the spotlight should stay on them most of the time.
How you do this determines how effective you are at getting new clients. If you answer the dreaded; “What do you do?” with “I’m a consultant” you’ve let the spotlight fall on you…push it away and refocus on them.
Practical Response: Shift your response to start with;
“I help [people or companies] achieve [desired outcome].”
Again, use this as a work in progress. Adjust as you work with it.
Case in point…
A few months ago, I was waiting in line to order my coffee and struck up conversation with a man behind me. I asked “What do you do for work?” and was sincerely interested.
He was an estate attorney who continued to tell me all about his work after I received my coffee and he stood by waiting for his… nowhere in his description did he mention how he might be able to help me or the benefit he brought to his clients, but instead, he discussed the various elements of estate law, probate and the benefit of trusts.
He never once asked about what I did, or any questions about me to see if I was someone who could use his services. Opportunity lost.
Why I started talking to him in the first place…
I asked him what he does because I work at being genuinely interested in people. It’s a skill I’ve had to intentionally develop over the years because for a long time, I simply wasn’t interested.
I was too wrapped up in my stuff. So, I make a game out of asking people about themselves while waiting in lines, at the airport, at a party or anyplace else I’m tempted to lose myself in my phone.
Could you do this?
It’s been a fascinating journey and I realize social skills are a muscle no different than my bicep. I love going to the gym. I go there every morning by 5:30 a.m. It’s easy for me and I’ve worked my muscles and fitness for so many years that working out is second nature.
But meeting and learning about people, and being sincerely interested? That’s a muscle I’m still developing. And I say this sincerely, because I like to be congruent and honest. And I don’t want to ask someone how they’re doing if I don’t mean it.
I have to admit, when I overcome the inertia of not inquiring, I find the people I meet, for the most part, genuinely interesting. They have a take on life and experience very unique, and different, then my own.
That brings me back to how you distinguish yourself amongst all the other coaches, consultants and other professionals.
First, be real. You can’t fake being someone else. You’re probably like me and have a B.S. Detector to recognize when someone is full of themselves. It might be a feeling, inkling or direct message from your subconscious, but you know something isn’t right.
Same with business. People can sniff out BS and your job is to be as clear and sincere as possible to make it easy for the prospect to make decisions. The clearer you are, the easier it is for them to move forward with you.
For Example. Picture yourself in a similar situation.
During a conversation, what I need to focus on is actually helping people with their issues. If I’m speaking with a man about his small business, and he’s sharing the challenge he’s having growing revenue, I may ask more about his business, product and tactics he’s been trying.
“What do you sell?”
“Who is your customer?”
“Why would I need this?”
From that, I may ask insightful questions that demonstrate my knowledge of what he’s doing and offer a couple suggestions. If interested, he may ask follow up questions and I get to further demonstrate my expertise.
“What are considered good conversion rates for your industry?”
“How many leads per week do you get?”
“Where do your leads come from?”
“What is the lifetime value of a customer?”
There’s no worry about a ‘free session’ or ‘initial consultation,’ this conversation at a coffee shop IS the free session, is an initial consultation.
Occasionally I’ll be asked; ‘how’s it work? And I’ll reply ‘like this…’
From this situation, it becomes easy to invite them to the next step and sign up with me. I may simply reply to them; “wow, sounds like you have some exciting challenges in your business. I would be really excited to work with you to help overcome them.”
And that’s about it. If interested, the person asks more, and if not, they’ll say something about not now, or other non-committal response, and depart.
What I don’t do is harass them for the next couple of weeks to make a decision.
I may follow up once or twice if they need to speak to a partner or spouse for the buying decision.
But, I'm focused on sorting, not convincing.
What I mean by that is amateurs convince, professionals sort.
You know what I'm talking about. You get one lead in the last month, so you email and call that person frequently, trying to convince them to work with you.
Perhaps they took your business card, and you didn't get theirs for various reasons. You end up refreshing your email, or staring at your cell phone, hoping they'll reach out and beg for your services... and can you please bill me twice what you charge everyone else!
“Nope, not gonna happen.”
Focus on engaging in sincere conversations with your potential clients, learning their problems, and recommend helpful solutions.
The worst that can happen is you provide someone with a nugget of hope and a tool to make their life a little better. At best, you get a new client on the spot who eventually enthusiastically recommends you to many of her friends.
Sound good but scary? Not sure what to do next? Go ahead and schedule a complimentary consultation with me to have a conversation and see how I can help you get there faster.