After your consulting firm wins a project, you deliver the project to your client. However, there’s a different type of delivery that dramatically affects your success in business development. If you can stomach just a tiny bit of discomfort, you’ll enjoy dramatic results.
If you’ve perused many of the articles on this site and/or my books, you’ve probably noticed they’re littered with very specific, language suggestions. (Yes, with puns and chocolate references too.)
There are scripts and recipes for what to ask prospective consulting clients, how to respond to emails, how to shake loose stuck proposals and many other situations.
And despite my well-founded, data-driven assurances that these exact turns of phrase will work magic for you and your consulting firm, there’s a good chance you hesitate to use them.
Your reaction to some of my wording suggestions may sound like, “You can’t really say that to a prospect, can you?” or “I couldn’t say that” or “Oh man, that would never work” or “I can’t possibly say that now—the caramels have glued my teeth together.”
Those types of reactions used to puzzle me, because of course you can use those scripts verbatim. My team and I know for a fact that the techniques, approaches and phrases we recommend can increase your revenue 2x, 3x, 10x or even more.
So, why the resistance?
Because there’s a nuance that explains why language that is proven to be effective might feel totally wrong or misaligned to you.
The words you say matter… and how you say them is equally important.
Your inflection, tone, and body language (in person or on Zoom) all dramatically affect how your consulting prospect hears your words.
My personal demeanor is pretty casual. I’m a bit cheeky and very quick to laugh.
Before I ask a consulting prospect, “What fee would give you a heart attack?” my shoulders drop, my body opens, my eyes crinkle and a whimsical half-smile creeps onto my face. Unconsciously, I’m signaling to the prospect that I’m being playful. Then, I deliver the Heart Attack Question with unmistakable curiosity and good intentions.
That is, in large part, why I virtually always receive answers to questions that seem to go nowhere for other consultants.
When you read a script and think to yourself, “I couldn’t say that!” it’s because you’re hearing or envisioning a delivery of the script that feels awkward, uncomfortable or perhaps even offensive to you.
Change your delivery.
It’s time for you to practice like an actor.
Actors practice and deliver the same lines multiple different ways on their way to producing the Oscar-worthy performance that we all love. Sometimes the actor experiments of their own volition, and other times they receive guidance.
The Director says, “Try making it happier” or “After you say ‘Gotcha’ pause, and imagine Jimbo stole your cookie before saying, ‘little man.’”
The exact same words can sound complimentary when you offer them with a smile versus disparaging when you serve them with a sneer.
The simple step of practicing like an actor—finding the right delivery for important questions and messages—will unlock plenty of business for your consulting firm.
Many consultants are resistant to practicing like an actor. It feels contrived or artificial or unnecessary.
Contrived? Yes. Unnecessary? No!
As a consultant, you are in a language and communication-driven business. It’s worth braving a bit of discomfort and awkwardness to give conscious thought to your words, try out variations and practice.
I’m curious about your experience. What non-verbal cues do you consciously or unconsciously try to communicate when you’re speaking to clients?
Text and images are © 2022 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.