You know a rain barrel full of reasons why your consulting firm is better than other firms that do what you do. Among the reasons, of course, is you. Your experience and ideas and unique perspective.
Hence, when Bethany Buttonwerk asked you why her company should work with your consulting firm instead of others she’s talking to, you quickly trotted out all your advantages.
Alas, that lessened your likelihood to win the project!
Oh no. Why’d that happen?
Let’s revisit Bethany’s query. Unfortunately, she unwittingly asked the wrong question. You then proudly tootled your answers to her mistaken question, which left her dissatisfied, disgruntled, and disinterested. (And you disappointed or dyspeptic.)
Bethany asked something along the lines of, “What makes you better than other consulting firms I could hire for this work?” Or, at its essence:
What makes YOU BETTER than THEM?
Her question makes you think you should be talking about your consulting firm and comparing yourself favorably to other consulting firms.
But what Bethany really wants to know is:
What makes you BEST for ME?
Oh, that’s entirely different. She doesn’t want to hear about you and your consulting firm. In fact, listening to you place yourself above others is a bit of a turnoff. She actually wants to hear about herself and how you’ll help her out of her tight predicament.
So, your ideal response hits three points:
- You, Bethany, are who we’re focused on. (Not us.)
- Bethany, you’ll achieve your goals with our consulting firm.
- Bethany, you’re not risking harm when you work with us.
Since you’re an astute consultant, you noticed those three points correspond to the Trust Triangle (mentioned here and explained here) and you realized that to answer them requires extensive discovery!
After all, your discovery process (a.k.a. the Context Discussion) demonstrates your consulting firms’ focus on the client, reveals Bethany’s higher, more valuable goals, and unmasks her concerns.
Bethany’s question and your superior response sound like this:
Bethany: What makes you better than other consulting firms?
You: Though that’s a very fair question, we don’t concern ourselves with how we’re better than other firms. We’re totally focused on how we’re best for you. Would it be helpful if I point out how we’re your ideal partner on this project?
Bethany: Of course!
You: Okay, here’s the crazy part… I don’t know for sure yet that we are the best consulting firm for you. Do you mind if I ask you a few more questions about your situation? With more information, I’ll know whether we can absolutely solve your challenge and address your concerns. Would that be okay?
Bethany: Yes. That would be great.
And just like that, you’ve escaped an “ours is better than theirs” competition that casts you in a negative light. Instead, you’re in a deep, collaborative discovery conversation that sets you up to win.
The lure of the “Here’s why we’re better” response is difficult to resist. I’ve succumbed many, many times and it’s never helped my consulting firm. Have you ever fallen prey to bragging about your consulting firm instead of focusing on the client’s gain?
Text and images are © 2020 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.