Confidence is to selling consulting as phyllo dough is to making baklava: necessary for success but difficult to maintain in the real world. Below, I outline two confidence-building exercises specifically designed for consultants.
As a purveyor of consulting services you regularly swallow large doses of rejection—prospective clients often claim they don’t need your offering. If you’re an independent consultant running a solo firm or boutique, each rebuff stings all the more because you are promoting your own ideas, expertise and experience. It’s personal in the extreme, and the negative feedback rattles many consultants’ confidence.
Here’s the question: does inner fortitude meaningfully sway your rain-making as a consultant? A clue is hidden in a study by Don Moore at Carnegie Mellon.** His research showed that people purchasing advice tend to choose the more confident source, even when that source had a poor track record! Holy cow. Some dude who doesn’t deliver high-quality results wins the gig because he’s more confident?!
We can do something about that. No doubt you’ve read about improving self-assuredness through exercise, a daily dose of sunshine, and vocabulary-expansion. Plus, there’s evidence that striking a power pose before tackling an important task improves your performance. Terrific. Go for it.
But let’s address your aplomb while selling consulting services, specifically. From what I’ve seen, effectively employing confidence in our business rests on four traits, all of which you can practice: Belief, Projection, Intention and Poise.
- Belief: Holding complete faith in your heart and mind that what you are offering is valuable. If you don’t believe in your value, your prospects are likely to doubt your worth too.
- Poise: Navigating challenges to your position with sang-froid. If you are unwilling or unable to consider opposing points of view you will be perceived as insecure or arrogant, not confident
- Projection: Telling others that what you offer has value. Silence certainty is not the recipe for a fat wallet. You have to proclaim your value boldly, with compelling vocabulary and a convincing tone.
- Intention: Displaying your value with the intent to inform and help. In contrast, if your motivation is to impress and sell, that will shine through, casting your statements as unappealing braggadocio and puffery.
The exercises below will build your strength and endurance across all four traits.
How has improved confidence affected your ability to win consulting projects? Please post one example below of when you felt on top of your game and won a great gig. Then reward yourself with a slice of baklava.**
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.