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[New Technique] Convert A1 Conversations into Consulting Firm Projects

Conversations reveal opportunities for your consulting firm. However, you could be pouring your time and energy into bushels of conversations and still not be finding consulting projects. That’s enormously frustrating, and the strategy below will help.

As a hard-working consulting firm leader, you assiduously attend to your relationship-nurturing responsibilities (a.k.a. “networking”). You’ve organized all your contacts, and you reach out to them in order. Alphabetically by first name, of course.

Last week, for instance, you sent 1:1:1 emails and had pre-scheduled calls with Kaden, Kai, Kaiden, Kaira, Kalani, Kali, Kara, Karina, and three Katherines. 

By the end of the week, you had engaged in four conversations with contacts, all of which were pleasant and exactly none of which morphed into a potential consulting opportunity.

The same scenario seems to play out most weeks: plenty of convivial chatting and no invitations to consult.

Are you doing something wrong?

No and yes.

No, by sticking with your outreach regimen you’re practicing the most effective, reliable, marketing tactic proven to generate revenue for small consulting firms. Keep it up!

Yes, if conversations aren’t yielding opportunities, then you’re missing lucrative consulting opportunities.

Two of the four people you spoke with (Kaden and one of the Katherines) are A1s. Let’s focus on them because there’s a very specific strategy you can employ to improve your business development results.

(FYI, A= strong relationship; 1=decision-maker. There are also strategies for A2s and B1s covered elsewhere. If you’re not familiar with these distinctions or “The Turn,” please (re)read The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients).

You already know that if anyone—A1 or other—mentions a specific challenge they have that your consulting firm could address, you use The Turn. Easy peasy.

But what if, as so often happens, your conversation with an A1 covers the four Big Cs (Career, Camping, Cocoa and Kids) and there’s no mention at all of any place your consulting firm could play?

It’s time to bust out The Overture.

The Overture

The Overture is a slightly more forward version of The Turn. As a reminder, it’s most appropriate when talking with A1s.

After you’ve pleasantly traipsed your way through a lovely conversation with Kaden, and before you bid each other adieu, you inquire about potentially working together. Then, because you’re out of time and your prospect doesn’t have a specific opportunity in mind, you suggest a separate brainstorming session.

You: Kaden, it’s been so fun catching up… you know, it would be great to work together at some point. Do you think there’s a way to make that happen?

Kaden: Yeah, I’d enjoy that. I’m not sure though. What did you have in mind?

You: Well, I know we both have to scoot now. Would you be open to a separate, 30-minute chat? We can brainstorm ideas. If there’s a way we can play together, great. If not, no worries.

Kaden: Sure. Let’s do that.

Notice the elements of The Turn are still there: Agency (“are you open to…?”) and separation (“a separate conversation”). Both of those elements are essential. Don’t leave them out!

Your follow-up call with Kaden is explicitly positioned to discuss consulting opportunities. No more frustration over friendly calls leading nowhere, and no worries about compromising an important relationship.   

Do you think The Overture could work for you?

  1. John Nantz
    July 27, 2022 at 2:44 pm Reply

    Really helpful article David; I use the turn a lot but have not tried this “overture” technique yet. Really like the idea & excited to try it.

    • David A. Fields
      July 28, 2022 at 5:50 am Reply

      Kudos to you, John, for being an accomplished practitioner of The Turn. Definitely let me know how you fare as you apply The Overture to your conversations with A1s.

      I appreciate your feedback and your example, which will inspire other readers to practice both techniques.

  2. Carol
    August 1, 2022 at 12:38 pm Reply

    David, I read this and promptly through of *at least* 3 or 4 people that I think would be open to this technique. Brilliant! Thanks.

    P.S. – I also appreciate the article title calling out that this is about a “new technique” as it caught my eye. 😉

    • David A. Fields
      August 1, 2022 at 1:49 pm Reply

      Good on you for instantly finding a place to apply the approach, Carol. Let me know how it works for you.

      Thank you for the feedback also, and for posting your reaction here!

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