Episode 173: Building Authority to Build Your Consulting Business—with Rochelle Moulton
Deb Zahn: I want to welcome you to this week's episode of the Craft of Consulting podcast. So on this episode, we're going to talk about a whole lot of things, all in the service of you being able to get to do more of the work you want to do as a consultant. We're going to be talking about building authority, monetizing your experience, leveraging across your different offers; a whole bunch of things. And I brought on someone who was just, I had a great time talking to. Rochelle Moulton, who's going to talk about all of those things and more, and all of it is about ultimately getting to do more of the work that you want to do and building the consulting business that you really, truly want. So, let's get started.
Deb Zahn: Hi, want to welcome my guest today, Rochelle Moulton. Rochelle, welcome to the show.
Rochelle Moulton: Thanks so much, Deb. I'm excited to be here.
Deb Zahn: So let's start off because we're going to talk about some really fun stuff today, but tell my listeners what you do.
Rochelle Moulton: In a nutshell, I turn consultants into authorities.
Deb Zahn: Love it. Love it. And we're going to dig into exactly what that means and why that matters today, but let's actually just define it. So when you say you turn them into authorities, what does authority mean and why should they care about it?
Rochelle Moulton: Well, let me tell you just, this is how I think about it now. So, when I used to think about authority, to me it was, how do I share my expertise publicly so that clients will hire me or buy my stuff? I mean, that was as far as I got but what I realized, and I've been doing this a long time, is that it's really about value creation. And because if you think about it, when you have authority, which is the power to reach and influence and impact your market segment, you have choices. You can choose who you really care about and who you want to serve. You can choose the revolution that you want to lead. I'm guessing maybe we're going to talk about that a little bit. You can choose how you balance making money with having enough free time and flexibility, right? So you can lead a really, an awesome life.
Rochelle Moulton: You get to operate from your genius zone because we don't all work the same way. And to be able to create a business around how you work at your best, it's mind boggling if you've had the opposite. And then the last piece is that you can charge your clients based on the value that you create. So when you think about authority, to me, authority is you're always building value. You're either building it for clients and for yourself, so it has multiple benefits. And I think authority, for those of us in the consulting business, is key.
Deb Zahn: Yeah. And I think when people hear it the first time before they hear a definition that has that many nuance behind it, they hear either, "I brag about myself all the time," which makes a lot of people uncomfortable, and it should. Or, "I tell people what to do," and that's what consultants are. And you're really talking about something that is very, very different than that and much more inspirational, and sort of serving the world in a different way and serving your life in a different way.
Rochelle Moulton: Yeah, because when I just described authority, I never thought about it this way, but there was no "I" in my description, right? It's about the outcomes from authority, and that's how I think of us as consultants. I didn't start there, for sure, but it's really important for us to talk about the transformational outcomes that we deliver to clients. And if we just stay focused on that, as you build authority, you don't have to worry about the bragging coming in.
Deb Zahn: That's right. And you won't walk into a room and read your resume, which is…
Rochelle Moulton: Oh no. Deadly.
Deb Zahn: ...the deadly, rookie move. Please don't do it, anybody listening to this. So let's talk about, if a consultant is hearing this and like, "I really haven't done that in the way that she just described it," what would their first couple steps be to determine what that means for them, what that looks like for them?
Rochelle Moulton: Well, I think their first question is, what do you want to be an authority on? And I think when we're technically trained, it's sort of really simple to say, "Oh. Well, I want to be known for my coding prowess," or, "I want to be known for..." I used to do M&A consulting. "I'd like to be the eminence on M&A consulting." So, you really want to start with "what?" What am I interested in? And then the second question is, who? Because do I want to be an M&A expert for anybody? Well, that's probably the same as being one for no one. Is really picking that audience. Or if you don't want to think quite as big as an audience, think of it about, who do you want your next 5 or 10 clients to be? What kinds of people do you really want to serve? And I know when I first started with solo consulting, I mean, I did it in the negative. I had a list of the kinds of people I didn't want to work with. Right?
Deb Zahn: Which helps.
Rochelle Moulton: Yes.
Deb Zahn: Which definitely helps.
Rochelle Moulton: Yes. Like a "no crazy person" rule. Yeah. I didn't want anyone who was going to make me crazy. So, it's really is dialing into that. And I think, as I understand it, a lot of your listeners are in their first couple of years of consulting, and I think we tend not to think about those things in the first couple of years because it's all about, "I need to make enough money. I need to get clients. Oh, I finished that project. Where am I going to get the next one?" But once you start to realize that there is work out there, that you have value to offer, that you're delivering value, then you can really start to almost have the luxury of saying, "OK. Now, who do I want to be in my world? Who do I really want to serve?" So, those are the two key things. I mean, you need to really capture those and understand what you want those to be.
Rochelle Moulton: And just one other thing. Because you pick a thing, and an audience now does not mean that they are tattooed on your forehead for the rest of your life. You can change, and more likely, you probably will change. If I were placing odds, I'd give it well over 90% that whatever you choose now, it's going to look completely different. It could be 5 years but certainly 10 or 20, you're going to make a couple of other pivots along the way.
Deb Zahn: Hundred percent. And I certainly experienced that when I started with a very specific niche in what I do, and now it's expanded beyond that. And in that way, I'm not bored, and I never have to worry about income because there it is. So as you're saying these things, I'm imagining, and I feel like we both could feel a disturbance in the force where there's folks out there listening to this and suddenly, all these mindset issues come flooding in. "I couldn't possibly do that. What do you mean?" For all the reasons you said, is you're like, "Oh my gosh, where's my next gig coming from, and how am I going to get income?" So, how does mindset factor into this? And what are some of the things that you see and you have to help people get past so that they even can do this work and get to a place where they're building real authority?
Rochelle Moulton: Well, I think, I don't know that I've really talked about this very much, but I think there's a thing called an employee mindset. And by that I mean that we're inside organizations and we know there are politics and we have to deal with things. We have a boss, maybe we even have our own employees, but we have this employee mindset. And when you start consulting as a solo, you really have to shift that; whether you want to call that an entrepreneurial mindset, a consulting mindset. But so, that's the first shift. And I think it can happen really quickly and it can happen really slowly. But sometimes, it's when people have trouble sort of making that next move, it's because they still have this employee mindset thing somewhere. There's some residual piece of it. Like, "I can't do that because I haven't done it before. Nobody's taught me exactly how to do that." Well, that doesn't mean you can't do it. You could learn about it in different ways. So, I think that's the first thing.
Rochelle Moulton: The second thing that I think is really challenging for people is putting themselves out there publicly to talk about things, right?
Deb Zahn: No. But not that.
Rochelle Moulton: Yes. Yeah.
Deb Zahn: It's so fine.
Rochelle Moulton: And what's always ironic to me is sometimes the things that we agonize over the most, like our finger hovers over the Send button, are the things that are so well received we could never have imagined it. So, part of building authority, part of building a business of this kind these days, is putting your thoughts out there. And part of what happens is it's actually great when people don't agree with you. Now, I'm not saying it feels great, but what's happening is they're teaching you what you need to know about how to teach your thing. So, if you're an expert on, well, pick any topic, right? If you're an expert on that thing and you know what audience you want to reach, you're constantly experimenting with how to get to them. And I'm not talking about sending them a slew of marketing messages. I'm talking about how to teach them, how to demonstrate that you're the expert, which by the way, is building authority, that you really know what this is. Now, did I just meander or did I answer your question about mindset?
Deb Zahn: No. no, no. That was a fantastic answer. And I actually want to tag a little bit on, and this wasn't in your book but things you said in your book were just ripe for this, is I've been saying to people if there was ever a time to build an authority, it would be when you're worried that a recession is coming. And so, I mean, talk about experimenting; define sort of the right message that is going to resonate, not in what they were worried about six months ago, but what they may be worried about now, or they may be experiencing six months from now. And so, how do you help people sort of not just pay attention to what's right in front of them but think about authority as sort of a long game?
Rochelle Moulton: Because it is a long game.
Deb Zahn: Yeah.
Rochelle Moulton: Yeah, it is. It's a very long game, but it's played in tiny increments that can suddenly explode in the most positive, wonderful way possible. And I think the challenge is that we never know for sure which things are going to be a happy explosion and which things are just sort of a shrug. In fact, I had this concept I was thinking about before writing this book and it was actually going to be...I pictured it as a different book. And I was so excited. It was this concept about pollinators, and I had this whole thing around it. And I wrote an email and a blog post about it, and it was a big, giant yawn. It was like, and here I am feeling like I am dropping this pearl of wisdom.
Deb Zahn: This is it!
Rochelle Moulton: Right? It was like, "Oh, so? That doesn't mean anything." Yeah, it's definitely a process of finding exactly what is going to work at which point in time.
Deb Zahn: Right. So when you hear crickets, pay attention to it because that's informative, it's not just painful. It is painful, but it is also an informative thing. So, before we get to some of the good strategies of... they take the steps. And you have laid out in your book, and we're going to talk about your book at the end, but you've laid out in your book some really good exercises to help people take those first steps to figure out what their path along the way to building authority is going to be. But ultimately, the goal is to do that for business purposes so that you get to do the work you truly are meant to do, and you get to help people in the way that you want to help people. But what are some of the common mistakes you see that you're just like, "Oh, please never do that. Please never do that"?
Rochelle Moulton: Well, let me just divide this whole thing because it's not just authority. You could argue it's building a consulting business. So, there's three chunks. And the first chunk is positioning. The second chunk is monetizing, that is, how are you going to make money from this? And then the third is selling. And it doesn't have to be lockstep because selling typically happens as you're positioning. It's not just at the end. But you really want to think about kind of all three of those. So, the first mistake I see most often is, "I can do anything for anybody."
Deb Zahn: Yep.
Rochelle Moulton: It's not that they actually say that, but if somebody will say, "I do marketing. And I do marketing for big companies and small companies, and mom and pop shops. And I work for people in the US and I work globally," it's just, it's kind of the "and, and, and, and" and the problem is, people just snooze at that. It's just, it's not interesting to them. What you want is you want them to either go, "Yes. Heck yes, that's me," or, "No, that's not me. I'm not interested in consultants on spiders in Brazil," and they move on, and both results are exactly what you want. You want your ideal people to come to you, and you want your non-ideal people to go away because your stuff isn't for them. Don't waste their time, don't waste your time. So, I think the "everything for everybody".
Deb Zahn: And I have to, I'm going to confess something, is I made that mistake when I started. So, I said that I was a healthcare consultant. And that's all I said.
Rochelle Moulton: Oh. That's tough.
Deb Zahn: And that is virtually meaningless. It doesn't say anything. So, when I finally figured out that that wasn't helpful, and I was looking for those two responses ultimately you described, what I realized people were doing is, "Oh, I heard Deb's a healthcare consultant... or a consultant." "Really? What does she do?" "Yeah, I don't know." And then they're like, "What do we want to have for lunch?" And they just move on.
Rochelle Moulton: Yeah. Yeah.
Deb Zahn: 'Cause it's not their job to figure out what I do. It's my job to relay what I do.
Rochelle Moulton: Exactly. I came out of big firm consulting, so when somebody said healthcare consultant, I had a very specific picture. But I had two pictures in my mind, right? There were consultants who consulted to the industry, and then there were consultants who consulted on healthcare inside organizations. And that's highly simplified. I think what happens too, is we leave these especially big organizations, and we get immersed in their language and their terms, and we're all in our own little world. And then when you go out and do this, you're not in your own little world anymore. It's, how do I? Well, let me describe it this way. See if you've found this too. I've found generally, in the first couple of years, the first year is usually the easiest year only because if you've left corporate and you had friends or people that you worked with, they want you to succeed, especially in the US. It's like the American dream to start your own business. They'll send you referrals, they'll send you work.
Rochelle Moulton: Second year starts to get really hard because the story isn't new anymore. You're not necessarily top of mind. You probably haven't niched down yet. You haven't really specialized. I'm just generalizing. And so the second year is, I've found, is that's when a lot of people will say, "OK, I got to do something different. I'm not sure what exactly, but I don't like this feast or famine. And if I can't do this, I'm going to have to take a 'job' job."
Deb Zahn: A "job" job. Those are terrifying words. Yeah, I've seen that. And I would say I've also seen, and this is what I experienced, of friends and colleagues who really wanted to help, and I could not articulate to them how I wanted them to help me so they just kept waiting. They introduced me to folks, but they were introducing me to random folks because they didn't really hear from me with a clear articulation, here's who I serve and here's how I serve them.
Rochelle Moulton: Yeah.
Deb Zahn: So a little bit of, if you have a good first year, that's fabulous. Anyone listening, if you haven't, it's also probably for the same reasons that you described, that the second year isn't that great.
Rochelle Moulton: Yeah. It's kind of like, you know what? Your friends love you, right?
Deb Zahn: Yeah.
Rochelle Moulton: And your friends are going to say, "Oh, you need to hire Deb for this because she's fantastic," and they do. If they talk to you and you wow them, they do. But we all have a limited number of those kinds of friends. And so really, part of the art of this, or the craft of consulting, is...I couldn't resist. It's such a great name.
Deb Zahn: Thank you. I appreciate the plug.
Rochelle Moulton: But part of that is figuring out, how do I appeal to strangers but who are my people? How do I, online primarily, appeal and get them to trust me? How do I do that? And that's really, that's the job in many ways, the marketing job.
Deb Zahn: Yeah, definitely. So outreach and marketing, both super helpful, but for different reasons and ultimately, try to achieve different things. So, you brought up monetizing, which I'm so glad you did because I know that that's one of the things you talk about quite beautifully in your book. So many strategies in there but pick out two that you think are the go-to for consultants, for how they actually monetize their experience so that they can build the business they actually want.
Rochelle Moulton: OK, so we'll pick two. I like leaving it to two. So, that really traditional consulting model is where you're consulting, maybe you're speaking, maybe not for money yet, and you have some kind of a book or a book-like product. And so, most of your revenue is going to come from consulting fees. Now, I'm hoping those are not hourly. I'm hoping they're at least project-based, and if you've been doing it for a while, hopefully you can transition to pricing based on the value. But if you think about it, probably 90% or more of your revenue is coming from your one-to-one kinds of services. And those projects are what I would call bespoke. Each one is a little different. They're custom. They're not inexpensive. It depends on your model; whether you have a model that's kind of a whale model where you might have...never just one, but you might have three to five or a couple of handfuls of clients at any given time, versus many. So, that's the one kind of traditional model.
The other model I like a lot is this productized service model where you're delivering services, right? The example I've seen most often is in marketing. So, maybe you have a workshop, and you design a productized service as a one or a two-day workshop. It has a flat price, and you deliver that workshop. And they know when they're buying, and you literally could, if you wanted to, put it on your website and say, "Here's this. $35,000, press the button. Show me your MasterCard." In real life, those larger projects, typically you're going to have a meeting, get-to-know-you meeting first. And then you're building that, you're building your entire business, around productized services. So, you have one key offering and then you might have a second. So, if you have this workshop for marketing, maybe you have a second offering that has to do, it could be an advisory retainer. It could be something where you're developing content, and then the third leg is advisory. I mean, you'd experiment with those.
But what that allows you to do is, the best ones will name that service. And it's the name that really reflects... it's not like fancy marketing jargon, but it really reflects what is being done. Like, what is the outcome? What's happening? What's the experience of it? And you literally can build a very successful business around that. And when I say very successful, people who have pivoted to that model might have been earning $100,000, 150. And when you do that with the right pivot, a half a million dollars is pretty easy, without having to work all the time.
Deb Zahn: And you do a good job in the book of talking about how to leverage across offerings or up from offerings, so it's not just this super expensive, bespoke consulting model that's going to be, for some, $100,000, $200,000, whatever, and then you've got one thing at the bottom that's $2,500, and then maybe one thing in between, but to really think about the range of offerings that people can enter in. And say a little bit about how that works, and what does that do for you, being able to truly scale your business and do more good in the world?
Rochelle Moulton: Well, let's call it a product service model because that's what you were referring to, where you have different price points. And it's somewhat challenging if you have a traditional Fortune 500 audience because they always typically want everything to be bespoke. But yeah, so you have a high option, whatever your high option is, and I would argue that's where the custom stuff goes, is the high option. And it doesn't necessarily have a price tag. It's probably a range of things that you do for those organizations. And then below that, I would focus on your ideal client and buyer. What will they value most? And here's an example. Let's say that you're doing brand strategy and you're doing these 100, $200,000 assignments. But what you realize is that there is a healthy component of your client base that really just needs this, that top-level strategy conversation, so you carve out the workshop, like we were talking about earlier. And so, instead of 100 or $200,000, whatever it costs, maybe that's 50 or 35, and then you see what needs to go below that. Do you want to have?
Rochelle Moulton: In that kind of an environment, I would argue you want a low option, but not a cheap option. So the low option, it could be a book. Obviously, that's a big commitment; not something most people are going to do in their first couple of years of consulting. But you could do a book. You could do some kind of a roadmap that is 50 bucks, 75, $100, something like that. And having other options in there makes sense depending on who you're serving. If you're doing a corporate client, I don't think you need a bunch of $500 options, and it can actually cheapen the brand because they're like, "Wait a minute. I'm going to spend $50,000, but I could get this for 500." It doesn't make sense to them. But if your audience is other business builders, then you want some people. You want some options where they can spend $50 and experience your thought content, your thought leadership, and then buy up.
Rochelle Moulton: So, the traditional theory behind this product service ladder is that you start... they buy your book for 20 bucks, and they go, "Oh. Boy, this is great. OK, so now I'm going to buy the roadmap for 50, and now I'm going to take this training for 497, and then I'm going to get into the mastermind for 10,000." Right? So, you can start to see how that works. Again, I just would really caution, if you're doing high-end consulting, be careful about what you're creating on the bottom, that it makes visual sense and intellectual sense to your top-end clients.
Deb Zahn: Yeah. And it doesn't draw them to the wrong rung of the ladder because you haven't actually described it well. That's wonderful. And I know because it's something I've done before, where I worked with some folks and leveraged a not cheap but a low-end, essentially, assessment tool. But that assessment tool revealed things that they needed. And then we could have much more detailed and helpful conversations about customized consulting because now we knew, with much more specificity than we could do in a discovery call, what's really going on for them and what it is that they really need. So, I really liked how you talked about thinking of them all together and not just, "Oh, I do this thing, plus I do this thing, plus I do this thing."
Rochelle Moulton: Actually, that example, the assessment, is a great example because whether you charge for it or it's free, if you think about that ladder we were talking about, what a great thing to do to decide if they're workshop ready. Right? I mean, you wouldn't call it that, but it's, are they ready to move to the next step on your ladder? So assessments, great option, and you can do them free or paid depending on how you structure it.
Deb Zahn: Yeah. And it pre-qualifies them, as you're saying, for the next stage. And you only want quality people to move up the ladder because then you can actually serve them and they're not like, "Why the heck did I spend this money?"
Rochelle Moulton: Exactly.
Deb Zahn: And it is often because they don't know what to do with it.
Rochelle Moulton: Another thing for high-end consultants is, I love having an option on the website, even if you only sell one a year, of a chance to have a one-hour call with you. And the key is make sure you price it high enough, right? I've priced mine now at $1,000 and people still buy it. And so, the advantage of that is if you have somebody who really wants to...really, what they want to do is pick your brain, this gives them an option. And if you get a lot of those kinds of requests, it gives you a place to send them so that you're not spending your time giving away free advice right and left, and right and left. But the other thing is, it does give you another lower thing on the ladder to give some more options. And you'll be surprised at the people who pay for an hour of your time and then work their way up the ladder. They feel more comfortable paying so they can ask exactly what they want and get pure value out of that call, versus a sales call where they feel like they have to hire you.
Deb Zahn: That's right. And it's beautiful too because they are still kicking the tires. And talk about building trust; what an opportunity to build trust by giving them value. The fabulous Leanne Hughes, who's been on my podcast, she has a link is called Pick My Brain.
Rochelle Moulton: Yes.
Deb Zahn: And people go to it. And it's also, and I think as you were saying, a lot of people think, particularly when people first become consultants, that because they've had a previous relationship with you, that puts them in a special category where they can ask you to do consulting for free. The problem is, and particularly I have found when you first start, a lot of people think that. So, you literally could end up spending hours out of your week providing tremendous value to people and not getting anything out of it, and it's a way to teach them, essentially, how to work with you as a consultant.
Rochelle Moulton: Yeah. And there's no shaming. You just say, "Oh. I have a service for that. Let me give you the link to that." And I used to do that when I was part of a networking group in LA, and it was just this huge group and they were all people who were my ideal clients. I would've spent... you have no idea how many questions I would get on a regular basis. And so I just, I finally said, "All right, I need to do this for my own peace of mind." And I did really want to help people, but I didn't want to do it in a vacuum. And so, the minute I put it up, some of those requests would just disappear because they said, "No, I don't want to pay for that. I only want it if it's free," and then other people would glom onto it, saying, "This is great. This is exactly what I need to do. It feels like a fair exchange. I'm happy." So, I just wanted to add that to this idea of the product service ladder. If you're in doubt, you can always play with having a call.
Deb Zahn: I love that. And I always tell people, your brain is your business.
Rochelle Moulton: Yes.
Deb Zahn: And so, that's one of the reasons you charge for it. That is a t-shirt waiting to happen. So, one of the other things. I'm going to skip a little bit to something else in your book that I really liked because again, when folks first start off consulting or even if they've been doing it a while and they haven't really looked at the business side of it carefully, they don't really think about the business model and their revenue model. And I know in the book you differentiate between those two things and talk about why both matter. Share that with us now. What's the difference between them, and what should folks be paying attention to when they're developing them?
Rochelle Moulton: OK. So, the business model is kind of the biggest picture of your business. So you might say, "I want to be a solo consultant and I want to bill my time out to clients." I mean, that's a business model right there. When I started my, or co-founded my first firm, we said, "OK, we want to have a group of consultants." We had a plan to leverage with multiple people. And so, that's the business model, pure and simple. Another business model would be to say, "I want to sell information products around my expertise. I want to write books. I want to do information products." And the reason it's important to state those things is it will guide the choices you make with all the other things that you're going to do. If you're going to sell products and they're inexpensive, you need a big audience in order to make a big income, and you'll sell and market yourself differently. So, that's the business model.
Rochelle Moulton: The revenue model is, how are you going to make money from that? And so, the revenue model could be, "I'm going to bill my time by the hour." By the way, my least favorite way to make money, but it is where most of us have started, right? A fee for service, whether that's retainer or a project fee. And products where you have product revenue. For example, after I wrote the book, I have a line on my financials that says "book revenue.” It's as simple as that. So, where are you going to get the money? And the other thing that's important about the revenue model is to really understand what drives what. So as an example, if you decide you want to write a book, you want to think long and hard about how you're going to use the book. Do you want to make money on the book itself? Do you want to use the book to raise awareness, so clients come and find you? Do you want to use the book to start something else, like a program? Do you want it to be a big idea book? What do you want to do with those things?
Rochelle Moulton: And that's why thinking about business models and revenue models are so important because they give structure to everything else that we do, and it allows us to make the best decisions that we can under various circumstances.
Deb Zahn: Yeah, and I love that. And it also helps you think also through your life because if you don't plan those things out and then things aren't working out and suddenly you are having to work nonstop to make the income that you want to make, one of the places that I would suggest people go look is, what's your business model and what's your revenue model? And boundaries would be the other one.
Rochelle Moulton: It is, yeah.
Deb Zahn: But that's likely where you're going to find some of the sources of the problems, which is why I love that you distinguish between those.
Rochelle Moulton: Well, what you described is what I've been calling a gilded hamster wheel, right? And there was the example I used, of a guy in the book where he was making an excellent income, but it was almost impossible to sustain. And we do that. Again, I think this is cyclical too. It's like, we get to the point where we figure out, "Oh my God, I can make this business work. I can make more money than I was in my corporate life. Yes, I figured it out. I'm at the top of the mountain," and then all of a sudden, you're like, "Oh, wait. If I take a vacation, I'm not going to get paid for that time and I won't make this much money. And wait a minute, how am I going to make more money? I mean, maybe I could raise my rates a little, but..."
Rochelle Moulton: So, you get to that point and that's when you start really thinking through what kinds of services you're going to offer, what price points make sense for you, maybe dialing into a deeper niche. Maybe you've been a healthcare consultant and now you're going to narrow it, narrow it, narrow it, narrow it to a smaller group. So, there are lots of things to consider but I like the fact that this keeps us all thinking strategically about where we want to take our businesses.
Deb Zahn: Right. And not thinking it's just going to automatically go to a good place because that is not a naturally occurring phenomenon, so I would say.
Rochelle Moulton: Oh, so true.
Deb Zahn: So, where can folks find you? And tell them what the book is. And we're going to have a link to it in the show notes but say a little bit about what the book is.
Rochelle Moulton: OK. So, you can find me at rochellemoulton.com, and there's links to everything from there. The book is called The Authority Code. Let's see if I can remember the tagline. How to Position, Monetize and Sell Your Expertise. So the book was basically, it's kind of like, I wished I had this book when I started my first business. It's like, what do you have to do, and in what order? I almost called it How to Sell Your Expertise, or Selling Your Expertise, but I think ultimately, the reason I wrote the book is I saw so many people struggle with selling. "I don't want to sell. I'm not comfortable selling. I can't do this." And when you build authority, eventually... it is a long game, as we discussed. Eventually, you don't have to sell anymore. You just have sales conversations with people who have already decided they want to work with you. They're just trying to make sure the chemistry is right. That's the goal.
Deb Zahn: That's right because you've established yourself as the go-to. And you said it in your book; it's like, you are the person to go to, not a person that they could have a conversation with. And that's really different, and that makes selling "like butta", as we say in New York.
Rochelle Moulton: Yeah. Yeah. And I think there's this part of us where we say... I see this a lot with newer consultants where they're like, "Yeah, but I'm not an authority." Well, of course not. You just started doing this, but you can build authority, right?
Deb Zahn: Yeah.
Rochelle Moulton: You have expertise. And so, as you take that expertise and apply it publicly, that's building authority. And eventually, you become an authority, and you become an authority when somebody else calls you one.
Deb Zahn: That's right. You mean, not when you get the t-shirt?
Rochelle Moulton: Well, we'll talk about the t-shirt. You've had a couple of good ideas for t-shirts here. I think we could come up with a few.
Deb Zahn: Yeah. But I'd like that also because it also, it will give you more confidence if you think more carefully about what you truly are an authority in. And I would argue that one of the things that I've seen with consulting clientsbecause I'm still a practicing consultant, is they like it when people came from the real world. So, you have authority on how things actually work in a real world setting. And so, that's a kernel of authority that you can then also build from and use as one of your positioning tacticsbecause they don't tend to like people who have theories, they like people who've actually had to live with the consequences of their choices and had to do things in real world settings.
Rochelle Moulton: Oh, that's the first thing I would sell. If I came out of a corporate environment, let's say a staff function, and I was going to put up my shingle, that would be my first thing. I can take all this crazy stuff up here and make it understandable and work for you. I would sell as the anti-consultant, almost. Right? I'm not one of these people from the big three or big four, big five, whatever we're at right now. And I've been there, done that, and I can do that for you. I would say that that would probably be a core principle, especially in the first few years that you're consulting. Absolutely.
Deb Zahn: Love it. Love it. Well, we're going to have links to all of your good stuff in the show notes so people can go there and also go to your website and find everything. But let me ask you this last question. So obviously, one of the reasons for building authority and doing all the steps you described at the beginning is to have the life that you want and have that freedom and have that independence. So, what do you do with all that? Where's your balance, and however it is you define that?
Rochelle Moulton: Yeah. So for me, balance is about boundaries because otherwise, I don't do it. I'll just work a lot. So, I have boundaries in the morning. I have me time, which is I work out, I take my dog for a walk, I meditate. I mean, these are things that are just really important for me. So, I don't start working with clients usually before 10:00 in the morning, which sounds kind of crazy but that's what I do. Love that. I tend to stop at a certain time at the end of the day. I love to make dinner. I know nobody likes to make dinner. I do. I'll make it a few nights a week. And yeah, I found that it's like a meditation almost, and I'll-
Deb Zahn: Oh, yeah.
Rochelle Moulton: I'll watch a show or I'll listen to a podcast. But I'm the one who's bebopping around the kitchen, going like this, making things. And I basically, and I've only been doing this for maybe eight years now, is I never work on weekends anymore. I'm always thinking. I can't shut my brain off, but I'm not going to work on client stuff on the weekends unless there's some urgency, and because a lot of what I'm doing now is coaching, there tends not to be urgent weekend things with coaching.
Deb Zahn: Oh, my goodness. I'm so happy you've said that because when folks first start consulting, they think they have to, as opposed to construct it so you don't.
Rochelle Moulton: Yeah.
Deb Zahn: That's the idea.
Rochelle Moulton: Yeah. And I think the other thing is that everybody has a different definition of boundaries, right? And when I started my firm, the first firm where we had multiple employees, it was so interesting because everybody was flexibly scheduled, so everybody had a thing or multiple things that were their passion. Now, a lot of them were parents raising pretty young children. But for me at the time, I was doing these really long century bike rides.
Deb Zahn: Wow.
Rochelle Moulton: And so, I wanted to be able to go away on a weekend, which I could not do in my big firm consulting days. I wanted to go away for a weekend and ride a century, and have the travel and go back and forth. The thing is to really figure out what it is that you value most in your life at this stage and build that in just like it's a client.
Deb Zahn: Exactly. Your life becomes your primary client. I love that. Well, Rochelle, I am so appreciative that you came on. Obviously, we went through a whole bunch of a smattering of things that folks can find more depth in your book, so I definitely encourage folks to go out and read it. There's so much good stuff in there. But thank you for coming on.
Rochelle Moulton: Thank you, Deb. Really, it was fun.
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