Numerous books, articles, podcasts and videos have highlighted an interesting, if somewhat disconcerting phenomenon: people make (most) decisions quickly—sometimes in an instant—without any deep, thoughtful reasoning.
Then they develop rationales that they honestly believe are the reasoning behind their decisions.
Decisions as important as buying a house, as trivial as chopping down a tree, or as questionable as chopping down your neighbor’s treehouse… all made in three flaps of a hummingbird’s wings.
This absolutely, 100% affects your consulting firm. In many cases, your prospects are deciding to hire your consulting firm or to not hire you much, much, much faster than you (or they) realize.
Your prospects may determine whether to hire your consulting firm within the first few seconds or minutes of your first interaction with them. Then, during the subsequent minutes, hours (and sometimes days, weeks or months) your prospects develop rationalizations and justifications that support their decision.
1. Create favorable conditions for a prospect to quickly decide that you’re the right consulting firm to hire.
2. Provide reasons they can use to justify their decisions, and fodder for their rationalizations.
Part 1: Create Favorable Conditions
- Smile – Your smile instantly communicates that you’re likeable, affable, easy to connect with, and will make your prospect’s life happier.
- Be confident – Confidence implies expertise, experience, and a high likelihood of success.
- Listen – Listening shows you’re interested in your prospect’s most important subject: herself.
- Speak eloquently – People infer intelligence from vocabulary and speech patterns, and that assessment occurs from the very first words you utter to your prospect.
- Reflect and expand – Reflecting back what you’ve heard from your prospect demonstrates you learn quickly; expanding on what they said demonstrates your intelligence and mental alacrity.
- Agree about 80% – Prospects generally believe they are right about almost everything and they may be wrong about something. Confirm both ideas by agreeing with most of what they say, at least in principle, then reframing an important idea.
- Communicate big ideas concisely – Your consulting firm’s big ideas and new thinking have to show up and be embraced extremely early. That requires tight, precise communication. Employ well-crafted models and metaphors.
- Send cocoa dusted espresso beans – Optional, because it’s okay to eat them yourself.
Part 2: Provide Fodder for Justifications
- Examples and case studies – Your past work proves that you’ve been there, done that.
- A thorough, robust-looking process – People trust systems that look detailed, thoughtful and tested.
- Proof of deep experience – Your grey hair, years of experience, panoply of client logos reassure your client.
- Sophisticated models – Your impressive frameworks support the decision that your consulting firm is bringing highly-developed thinking to bear.
- Continued responsiveness – Clients want to know you’ll be easy to do business with, and your responsiveness throughout the process is their best indicator.
Isn’t it interesting that cost plays no role in the quick go/no-go decision about your consulting firm?
Clients will frequently conclude they want to work with your consulting firm before fees are ever discussed.
When faced with fees that are far out of line with what they expected, your prospects must choose whether to reverse their instant decision to work with your consulting firm or to adjust their view of what a “fair” fee is. You have probably observed this internal debate play across your consulting prospects faces in real time.
If you’ve created extremely favorable conditions and provided excellent fodder, you can watch your consulting firm’s prospects abandon their original fee thinking or convince themselves that their initial budget was wrong.
How else do you create favorable conditions or rationales to help clients decide to hire your consulting firm?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.