Updated: Aug 4
When I first started in consulting and was trying to get business, I did one thing that made all the difference to my success: I asked for help.
When what I was doing to get clients wasn't working, I turned to other consultants who had been consulting and consulting successfully a lot longer than me and asked them for advice.
It wasn't easy. I was so used to being successful in my past jobs and feeling confident that it was difficult for me to admit that things weren't going well despite my best efforts and that my confidence was shot. But I had a choice. I could either keep struggling and hope that something worked, give up and go back to being an employee, or get over myself and ask for help.
Thankfully, I chose the latter.
One particular conversation stands out. I remember talking to one consultant who had been consulting for many years and had built a very successful practice. He was also someone I had worked with before when I was employed. So he knew I knew my stuff. I remember admitting to him that I was meeting with a lot of people, including prospective clients, but I wasn't getting any clients.
He asked me a simple question that changed the game.
He simply said, “Describe to me what you can do.”
I'd like to say that I had my description nailed down and polished and that I dazzled him with my answer. The truth is that I stumbled, mumbled, and didn't really say anything that was tremendously coherent. I was as baffled as he was. Of course, I knew what I did. So why couldn't I articulate it to him?
His advice to me was that you have to nail down, with great clarity, what your value proposition is. You have to be able to describe what you can do in a way that matches the problems, desires, and demands in your market. And you have to be able to do that easily, without hesitation. He said, "You have to get so used to saying it that it easily rolls off your tongue."
After that conversation, I realized that I had been taking the simple things for granted. I was winging it and, by doing so, not saying anything that was compelling to clients.
So I sat down with a piece of paper and wrote out what my target clients cared about, what their pain points and their desires were. I then matched that to what I could do to help them solve their problems and get what they most wanted. From that, I developed a clear value statement. But I wanted to make sure I wasn't still making common mistakes. So I got advice from people in my market—you know, the market-savvy, ruthlessly honest people who will tell you the truth. I then refined it and kept making it better as I tested it in my market.
Being able to succinctly articulate my value in my specific market was a game-changer.
As soon as I had that in place, prospective clients meetings got better and I started to get clients. I was still the same person who could do the same things, but now I was properly communicating to them just how valuable I could be to them.
I am forever grateful to the consultants who helped me. I am especially thankful that the one consultant took the time out of his day to talk with me, this deflated, wild-eyed neophyte. He helped me understand one of the most basic elements of a consulting business I had to have in place, my value proposition.
Even today, when I don't know what to do, I get help.
So when you're feeling stuck or struggling and not sure what to do to get clients or build your consulting business, ask for help. Just ask. It'll make your life so much easier, and it will enable you to be successful faster.
If you need my help, I'm here for you. I've got a wealth of free content and tools that you can use to help you on your journey. If you need more help, or more direct help from me, check out my Get Help page. I have a lot of ways I can help you be successful faster.