Picture a deeper, healthier client list and pipeline for your consulting firm—the type you’d have if you communicated your consulting firm’s value in language that instantly resonated with the exact people you want to attract. The source of that alluring, sticky language is at your fingertips.
It’s tricky to develop exactly the right wording to convey the problems your consulting firm solves, the aspirations you help achieve and how your solutions help your clients.
Much of your consulting firm’s current marketing and sales materials feature clever parlance. Turns of phrase you’ve crafted based on long, deep thought about your solutions and the situations your prospects encounter.
That communication is frequently ineffective. Often it’s too generic. Other times it’s specific, but is out of sync with your prospects’ phraseology. Both cases fail to resonate with your prospective clients.
The best wording captures your prospects’ attention by precisely mirroring what they’ve been thinking or, better yet, what they’ve said during internal meetings and discussions.
Picture Samantha Seyeo, top dog at Pack Packaging, Co. muttering discontentedly to her assistant, “We need some way to improve camaraderie even though our executive team can’t meet in person.”
Then, later that week, your email pops up in Sam’s inbox with the subject line, “Build Team Camaraderie Even When You Can’t Meet in Person.” You can bet she’ll double-click your email. And, if the messaging inside is equally consistent with her thoughts, Sam will reach out to your consulting firm.
How do you develop perfectly aligned language?
By listening to your prospects.*
When To Listen for Language
The early phases of your consulting firm’s interaction with a new prospect are information rich. Two interactions in particular carry a treasure trove of messaging gold:
- When your prospect first sends you an email, submits your contact form, or calls your consulting firm to inquire about your services.
- When you’re conducting your Context Discussions.
How to Find the Right Language
You can mine both of these troves with the four action steps below:
- Ask your prospects whether you can record your call with them so that you can focus on what they’re saying without writing notes. And/or, take supremely accurate, verbatim notes. And/or contract a stenographer
- Assemble the verbatim transcripts from at least ten Context Discussions that led to the same type of project. (In other words, don’t combine Context Discussions that resulted in different offerings or client engagements.) Supplement those transcripts with any raw inquiries such as contact forms and unsolicited inquiry emails.
- Analyze the data for common expressions and combinations of words. How do prospects describe their situation, their desired outcome and their ideal solution?
- Try out those common expressions and phraseologies in your marketing materials, sales collateral and business development conversations.
Before you jump into action with the action steps above, beware of three traps:
Overly Generic Expressions:
You may find virtually all of your prospects use exactly the same terms or wording, particularly during the earliest moments of your conversation, and yet their language expresses nothing useful.
For instance, even if every prospect utters “We have a problem” at some point, you won’t attract more clients by inserting “You have a problem” into your communication.
You are so smart, experienced and well versed in your consulting firm’s area of expertise, that you automatically translate what your prospects are saying into what you know they mean to be saying or what they would say if they were more eloquent.
As a result you quickly filter out your prospects’ raw expression of their needs and replace that language with your own, better-informed expressions.
To avoid this trap, analyze raw transcriptions and have an analyst who’s less familiar with your consulting firm’s offerings look for common phrases.
If you’re a savvy consultant and you’re even passably good at winning business, you probably reframe your clients’ situation, desired outcomes and even their concerns.
Reframing serves multiple purposes, including simplifying, clarifying and establishing you as the obvious choice. Unfortunately, reframing also obscures the prospects’ original language and expressions.
Therefore, make sure you listen and give your prospects multiple opportunities to express themselves before you helpfully reflect, rephrase or reframe their thinking.
It may be possible to take this idea to the next level by feeding your verbatim transcripts into AI-driven text analysis applications. These apps use natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to identify key phrases and concordance.*
What’s a phrase prospects use to describe the problem your consulting firm solves? Share your ideas below.
Text and images are © 2021 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.