Selling consulting to customers
In this post, I’m going to share my very simple framework for setting up a consultant product or service and selling it to your customers.
I’ve got no idea where to start with selling consultation
The lines between coach, consultant, advisor, mentor etc. get blurred all the time. I’ve got a pretty clear idea on where they fit and most consultants I know are really just glorified freelancers.
A true consultant identifies a specific problem and then provides the path on how to fix it. Like a medical consultant, they’ll identify a specific problem and then talk to the patient about how to fix it.
They might perform surgery if needed. Or lay out what they patient needs to do and make referrals. Being a consultant doesn’t mean that you can’t work further with the customer, but it does mean that you need to be specific in what problem you’re solving.
Do customers like to buy consulting?
Customers like to buy what will help them. Yes, some people will always think consulting is a waste of time. And some people will run their entire lives through consulting teams.
It’s up to you to demonstrate enough value and stick to a specific system to sell consulting.
How to sell consulting to customers
Create an offer page
I’ve met so many businesses that want to sell consulting, who don’t have a clear single page on their site, telling people that they sell consultation.
Many consultants make this mistake too. A website that talks about strategy and results based campaigns and all kinds of non-specific words. But they lack a page that says “this is the problem we can solve and here’s how you can buy.”
Rule #1 of sales is “make it easy to take the customer’s money.” You need to make the assumption that the customer is ready and willing to buy.
Rather than make it complex with invoices, requests for work and quotes, keep it as simple as possible and build a offer page that sells the consultation and have a payment page that can take payments easily such as sellyourservice.co.uk/balance.
Solve a specific problem
“But Mike, my consultation is unique for each client. I can’t have just one offer.”
To that, I disagree. Strongly.
For starter, we’ll talk about standardising your services below. But a good place begin is by solving a specific problem.
The list of things that you could help with, with your consultation, could be endless. And it’s tempting to believe that if you can fix lots of things, make an offer to fix lots of things.
Instead, the method that works best for selling consultation, is to solve a very specific problem. Focus down (niche!!) on a specific roadblock or problem that the customer is facing.
If you’re selling marketing funnels to customers now, and you want to add consulting to your suite of products, the fastest way to get consulting clients is to focus on a hyper specific problem and solve that.
First, it’s much easier to market and sell a solution to one problem. Rather than “I can fix your business and increase sales and revenue and advise you on marketing” you need to focus on a problem like “low email subscriber conversions” or “high refund rates”.
Those are specific problems that you can solve. When we’re specific about the problem, we’re specific about the types of clients we can find. It’s easier to market and sell and we can create offer pages and prices easier.
It also doesn’t mean that in the future you won’t consult on further topics. If someone needs help with refunds, they probably need help with pricing, email automation, advertising and copy writing. But you don’t lead with that, you sell that later.
A customer is more likely to buy from you after you’ve solved a specific problem in their business. It’s also worth noting that their problem is not “they don’t have a website” or “they don’t have marketing automation”.
A businesses problems are it’s people’s problems. Which is to say, the problems of any business can be traced back to the people in that business. The owners problems are the businesses problems. It’s the things the owners, directors and staff think about at night.
Standardise the service
Which brings me onto my next point – standardisation.
If you still feel that your consultation is unique and different to each client, that is a massive problem – not a strong point. It’s weakness disguised as experience.
Instead, you must focus your problem solving offer to one area. And then, you must focus the method at which someone solves that problem.
For example, in order for a business to grow, it might face 3 major problems.
- Owners and directors spending too much time answering questions from staff and customers, dragging them away from strategy
- Sales have dropped since new players have entered the market
- Highly competitive field with lots of lower value competitors stealing customers and awareness
As a consultant, your job, is to offer to solve ONE of those problems. If you needed heart surgery, your surgeon isn’t going to give you advice on your diet or mortgage.
Let’s say we decide to focus on problem 2. Sales have dropped since new players have entered the market. Maybe that problem sticks out to you because you have a solid method for dealing with it.
By writing out that method and defining 3-7 core stages of the solution, you’re beginning to standardise your process for helping customers. It might look something like the below.
- Audit list of current customers
- Identify top 20% of spenders
- Survey customers to understand why they bought
- Create/launch product to that 20%
- Get feedback on sales/losses
- Create sales campaign for next set of customers/new customers
It really could be as high level and broad as that. But in there is a standardisation that makes it easier to sell consulting. Because you have the start of a model that defines you as different to your market.
It’s also easier to make a process profitable because it creates higher margins. You use the same worksheets, tools and meetings to get the result and of course, you’ll get really good at it.
Down the line too, this kind of process can turn into intellectual property. It turns into a model that defines a category or solution in your market. That can turn into media such as training and content and finally, software.
Get leads on a call
Next up is to get your leads on a call. This really is far more simple than many people give it credit for. If you want to sell consultation to customers, you need to get anyone who has your specific problem, on a call.
Why? First, so you can show them your process for solving that problem. Second, so you can qualify them and find out more about their business.
If you listen, and I mean really listen to a customer when you’re talking to them, they will tell you what they’ll buy.
“I’m sick of working late and never seeing my husband and kids.”
“I want to grow but I feel we’re just treading water.”
“I’m worried we’ll get left behind if we don’t adopt machine learning.”
Feeling worried about being left behind when everyone else is using machine learning? Sick of working late and never seeing your husband and kids? Frustrated that you’re not growing and don’t know what to work on? I can help.
When you talk to customers and listen, they’ll tell you their motivations for running a business. Those are the same motivations for solving a problem in their business and buying from you.
Let’s say that you still want to solve the problem of “sales dropping off a cliff.” You need to get your current and previous customers and leads, on a call, to talk about this problem.
Hey Mark. I’ve been working on a system to help businesses who have seen their sales take a nose dive. Have you found that your sales have fallen off a cliff? I’d love to get on a call and show you how you can solve that.
Use that as an email above and start getting people on a call. If you want more help on running a consultation call I’ve got videos and posts here.
- How to run a consultation call (post)
- How to sell and price consultation (post)
- How run discovery calls (video)
Close and turn objections
Finally, offer to help. It’s that simple. Offer to help them with that problem.
“So you’re struggling with spending too much time at the office. Looks like that’s to do with your sales dropping off. Is that right?”
“Would you like some help with that?”
And just like that, you’ve closed a consulting customer. Offering to help is how you help. That’s how you get the customer to agree to work with you.
Immediately after someone agrees to helping you, you tell them the price, if it hasn’t come up already. This is why standardisation is so important. Creating standardised products and processes means your prices are set and you’ll know how to answer.
How much is your consulting? Use one of these posts/videos to define your price. But as a rule, you should really be charging at least $2000 for any kind of day consulting.
“I don’t have the time to go through something like this. I think we can do it ourselves. We’ve tried marketing consultants before.”
Those are just some of the objections you’ll hear. Remember though, that an objection is a buying signal. It’s a sign that the customer wants to work with you, they just need help justifying it.
Listen to their objection, agree with them that it’s a valid concern and turn it. “I agree Mr. Customer. It’s a lot of work and yes, you’ll need to invest the time. But just think how much that time will be worth it when you’re able to leave work earlier and hang out with your kids. Sign here, send a deposit.”
But what if I’ve never sold consulting before?
Don’t overthink what a consultant does. A consultant is really just someone who identifies the core problem facing someone and offers a remedy. You don’t have to do the work, but of course it usually does lead into agency work.
You don’t need a portfolio or a list of testimonials to start. Of course those help and in the long run you’ll want to collect them. But right now, creating and offer page with a price and a process is what will bring you leads and customers.
Well, that and getting them on a call and closing them!
If you want to sell more funnels and services to your customers in 2020, I’ve got my 7 best sales strategies as a free guide, below.
Just enter your email address and I’ll send my guide to you.
Have you sold consulting? Does this post give you confidence? Are you going to go out and close some consulting customers? Let me know in the comments below!