Prospective clients need to hear certain messages from you in order for you to build a successful consulting firm. Are you sending the right signals?
Dulcinea Bious was crushed when she learned the truth.
Her parents, not the Tooth Fairy, placed Oreos under her pillow.
Sure, that particular wool dropped from her eyes 40 years ago. However, a series of trust-shaking revelations followed as the decades passed: hard work isn’t always recognized; hired hands (such as agencies and consulting firms) don’t always deliver promised outcomes; white chocolate’s identity is an existential debacle.
Hence, today, Dulcinea (“Du” to her friends) is consistently cautious.
She’s also the VP of Everything at Careful Co., and the very skeptical, prospective buyer of your consulting services. Drats!
Alas, many of your prospects are exactly like Du.
They want to believe that your consulting firm holds the solution to their problems. Just like they want to believe every new hire will perform beyond expectations, every speaker taking the stage at a conference will inspire them, and every child will eventually listen to reason.
In other words, prospective clients harbor endless reserves of hope.
However, their hope is tempered by years replete with disappointments. Prospects are scarred and suspicious, and their skepticism ranges from mildly wary to deeply doubtful.
Hence, Du remains undecided. Should she work with your consulting firm or turn you away?
Since uncertainty is paralyzing, Du searches for indicators that will point her confidently toward a decision. She’s alert to red flags that eliminate you from consideration. And, always carrying an ember of hope, she looks for Reasons to Believe that your consulting firm is the answer she seeks.
When you provide the right Reasons to Believe, your consulting firm will close engagements as a a hot knife slicing warm fudge.
Let’s look at how to communicate Reasons to Believe, starting with a couple of common mistakes, then a few best practices.
Common “Reasons to Believe” Mistakes
Touting Client Satisfaction
You have clients that love you. Terrific. Also, unconvincing. Every consulting firm has clients that love them, including the firms that previously disappointed Du.
Testimonials that emphasize how much your clients adore your consulting firm won’t impress Du.
Differentiating Primarily Versus Other Consulting Firms
Even when your prospects are considering other consulting firms, emphasizing your differences compared to competition will rarely win you the golden ring.
Du’s interest is in how you will overcome her obstacles, not how you are different from other firms.
Keys to Effective “Reasons to Believe”
Reference Prospects’ (Likely) Past
The most effective Reasons to Believe reveal:
- You deeply understanding the route prospects have tried in the past.
- You can explain why past attempts didn’t work.
- You have solid rationale for why a different path will achieve better results.
Deviate 20% From the Norm
Notwithstanding the need to separate your firm from tried-and-failed approaches, ensure your recommendation doesn’t diverge too far from Du’s existing beliefs.
Prospects assume they require only a small course-correction from their current understanding of the route to success, not a left turn or a complete turnabout.
You will trigger Du’s red flags if you present a major departure from her view of reality.
Highlight Relevant Expertise
The best Reason to Believe for Du is evidence you solved the exact same problem for another client exactly like Careful Co. Preferably yesterday.
Industry expertise and problem expertise fuel a powerful Reason to Believe. The more precisely you define your expertise, the more Du will trust your claims.
Provide Evidence of Results
Your catalog of concrete, pertinent outcomes works hand-in-hand with relevant expertise. While case studies are useful, nothing speaks louder than results-laden testimonials.
Let Du read or hear the highly successful results your other clients have enjoyed in those clients’ own words. (Including the client’s name increases believability.)
What about your consulting firm—what Reasons to Believe do you offer clients so that they see you as a credible, reliable solution to their challenge?
Text and images are © 2024 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.