How I sell marketing consultation to my customers
In this blog post I am going to outline a very simple process for selling consulting and consultation services to customers.
I’m going to show you how I get customers to tell me what they would buy. I’m also going to show you exactly what never to say to a customer if you are interested in selling consulting from them.
Finally, even if you’ve got zero sales experience and you hate sales, I’m going to show you how I sell $2000 worth of consulting to each client (and in fact I get them to ask to buy from me).
You deserve to charge for access to your brain
Full disclosure, my entire book From Single To Scale talks about how consulting could be killing your business. However, consulting has an important place in the buying cycle, because it can give you the cash and income to pay for further product development.
So many marketers and funnel builders don’t charge for their expertise, knowledge and brainpower. They’ll build marketing funnels and services for the customer, but never charge them for meetings, consulting, workshops or even audits.
This would be like going to the doctor and them charging you for the use of the tongue compressor, but not their 10 years medical history.
Henry Ford was once having trouble with a generator at a plant in Michigan and they called in an expert from General Electric called Charles Steinmetz.
After two days, Steinmetz made the generator work again by spending two days straight listening to the generator and marking with chalk where they needed to fix the problem. Paragraph Henry Ford, notoriously tight with money,saw the invoice from General Electric at $10,000 and asked for an itemised bill before paying.
“Steinmetz, responded personally to Ford’s request with the following:
Making chalk mark on generator $1.
Knowing where to make mark $9,999.
Ford paid the bill.” *
“Mike, I’ve heard this parable before. Everyone knows that it’s an urban legend and there’s even an article on Snopes.com refuting it.”
Yeah but it’s a good story and illustrates the point well, so fuck off.
No one buys consulting any more
Your customers absolutely categorically will by consulting from you. As long as you don’t go into the meeting saying “would you like to buy some consulting?”
We have all spent time with people, where just having a 45 minute conversation with them, has given us clarity, direction and confidence. More than anything, your customers want those things. But you should go into the meeting expecting to sell transformation, not the process.
How I sell consulting to my marketing funnel customers
Identify what they really want
I often say that the first rule of selling marketing funnels is “don’t talk about marketing funnels.” And it’s exactly the same for selling consulting. In fact, it’s the same for almost all products and services.
If you want to sell more consulting to your customers, don’t talk about consulting. I see so many funnel builders, marketing agencies and marketing freelancers talk about consulting to their customers, without understanding that your customers absolutely do not want consulting.
Your customers’ wants revolve around them and their life. We are goal orientated organisms. We are constantly thinking about what our goals are and how they relate to our lives. Your customers goals are based around their future and will be things such as:
- Increasing revenue so we can hire more staff
- Securing a deposit on a new house
- Being able to afford the best for my children
- Saving up for a new car
These are your customers goals. Note how not a single one of them revolves around “I want to buy consulting from someone.” Your consulting is an enabler to helping them get a particular result or goal.
Sit down with your customers, pick up the phone, book them onto a Zoom call and start asking them about their goals. What do they want to achieve? What are they aiming for? What is the long-term goal?
You don’t even have to ask many variations of the question. You just want to get a list of all of their hopes, dreams and goals. People love talking about themselves, and given enough space (and if you’ll shut up for long enough) they will tell you their deepest dreams and longest held goals.
I had a colleague called Ed who works with me at a corporate job. He mentored me for a little while, while we sold data systems to other large corporations. Ed taught me from a very early stage “you have two ears and one mouth. Use it in that ratio.”
A lot of people mistakenly believe that good sales means good talking. The best sales people in the world know that good sales means good listening.
If you can ask one question that allows people to speak freely, you won’t need clever closes sales techniques. Simply asking the question “what are your goals?” And then giving them enough time and space to think through the answers, and answer you, will do wonders for your sales relationship.
Keep asking about their goals. Ask how much they want to make. Ask where they want to go. Ask what do they want more of. Encourage them and write down all of their answers, even the ones they think are silly or unimportant.
Get as many answers as possible and keep asking “what else?” after they’ve got five goals down, try to get to 10. After they’ve got 10 down and try to get to 20. You want as many ideas on paper as possible.
- Book a call or a meeting with the customer
- Tell them you just want to understand more about their business
- Ask them what their goals are
- Keep asking them “what else?”
Identify their problems
Next, we are going to do the same thing, but for the other end of the spectrum. I need you to ask your customers, what are their biggest problems?
What do they not enjoy? What are they struggling with in their life? What’s broken in their business? Again, if you are selling to owners, managers and founders. The only people they get to talk about their problems with are probably people who can’t do anything about it.
They don’t talk about these problems to their staff. They probably don’t talk about these problems to their spouse. And most of the time they probably don’t talk about these problems to their network.
You are giving them a space and opportunity to get all of their broken pieces on the table. This will be incredibly liberating for them. And if you will shut up long enough to listen to their problems, they will gladly tell you what they will buy from you.
Similar to the goals, keep asking “what else?” Keep digging and getting as many ideas on the table as possible. At some point they might think that they can’t think of any more problems, just sit in silence and let them think of another couple of problems.
- Ask them what their problems are
- Keep asking “what else?”
- Get as many problems down on paper as possible
Identify the motivation
If we can understand the motivation behind their goals and problems, we can sell pretty much anything to the customer. To do this we need to identify the priority goal and the priority problem. It’s quite a simple process. We are simply going to repeat back to them all of their goals and then ask them “if we could only focus on one of these, which would be the priority?”
They’ll probably hone in on something to do with revenue or leads. Which is fine. But this isn’t enough just yet. What we want is a deeper motivation behind the goal or problem, commonly called a “why”.
If we can understand why someone has those goals, we begin to understand why they would buy something. If we can understand why they would buy something, we can help them much easier. The conversation will look a little bit like this.
You: So out of all of those goals, which one would you say is the priority?
Customer: I think increasing our revenue is our number one priority
You: okay, that makes sense. Why is that your priority?
Customer: because we need more sales.
You: okay, what else? Why else would sales be a priority?
We now repeat the “what else” segment of the line of questioning. We now want to get an extensive list of reasons why sales would be a priority. The more reasons we can get, the deeper the understanding we have behind their motivation.
What we are eventually uncovering is their motivation for running a business at all. We are beginning to understand who they are as a person and a customer, not just someone who could buy something from us.
You might want to repeat this a couple of times. Troy Dean from WP Elevation taught this to me as Go Wide Go Deep.
Go wide by asking what else, what else, what else? Then go deeper by asking why? Then continue to go wide with what else, what else, what else? Until you uncover a deeper reason why they need what they need.
Eventually you’ll uncover a core motivator such as selling the business, hiring more people or living an easier life. It usually takes a couple of layers deep to uncover that reason and motivation.
- Repeat back their goals and problems
- Ask them their priority
- Uncover their motivation and why
- Ask why that’s a priority
Repeat back their goal and problem
These next two sentences have made me tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.
When you’ve got their priorities and you’ve got a list of their goals and problems, simply use this framework to repeat back to them.
“So you want [goal] so you can [why] and remove [problem]?”
Simply replace [goal] with their priority goal. Replace [why] with their motivation and deeper why. And replace [problem] with their priority problem. If you can add a further motivation behind the problem, then all the better. You’ll end up with a sentence that looks something like this.
So you want more sales so you can sell the business and stop working as long hours?
So you want to increase traffic to the site so you can become known as a media business, in order to reduce face-to-face sales expenses?
So you want to launch this book to get better speaking opportunities so you can do less time for money activities?
What you’re looking for now is a “yes” from the customer. You want them to agree with that statement. In fact, you’ll find most customers will be staggered at the clarity you have already brought to their business.
You have summed up their problems, goals and motivations into a single definable statement. Statements like that can be solved and worked on. When the customer says “yes that’s it” you follow up with this second killer question.
“Would you like some help with that?”
Of course the customer will come back with “yes please” or they might even say something like “well of course I do, that’s why we’re on the call!” don’t worry about how forced or leading it sounds. This is an important step.
We are now getting the customer to ask us for help, rather than asking if they would like to buy. Asking if someone would like help with something, tells you whether they will buy or not. If they turn around and say “no” you’ve obviously missed the mark somewhere. Which is fine, because it means that they aren’t a potential customer.
And now they’ve said yes, we can move into the sales stage much more comfortably.
Assume the sale
Finally I want to talk about assuming the sale. Assuming the sale means assuming that the customer wants to buy and not second-guessing yourself.
“The close” is a very salesy term which I use a lot, but it puts people off and I can understand why. The close is when you get the money from the customer.
A sale doesn’t happen until the close happens. You can have the world’s greatest pitch, the world’s most enthusiastic lead, and all the promises in the world. But until the money is in your account, you have not got a customer. And it’s usually a sign that you haven’t closed them.
Closing gets a bad rap because people have over-complicated the process. Whereas you are exposed to one particular close almost every day. The cashier at the till closes you whenever you put your items through the scanner.
They assume the sale, because you’ve put everything on the conveyor belt. They just say “that’ll be $19.99 would you like to pay by cash or card?”
That is the perfect close. They assume the sale. They are telling you how to buy, they’re asking what payment method you prefer, and they’re telling you the price. You need to do something as simple and as effective on that same court.
Great! That’ll be $1997, would you like to pay by card or bank transfer?
That’s the close. Tell them the price, tell them how to buy, ask them what their payment method will be.there are loads of other clever closes which I love. I’m sure I’ll talk about them in another blog post.
But until you have given the most simple close, you can’t use more complicated closes.
This is the part most people get awkward around because they fear rejection. Or, they fear offending the customer. But remember, we are assuming that the sale.
We assume that the customer is having this conversation with us because they want to buy something. They’re on the phone or they’re in the meeting with you. They aren’t doing that for their health.
Think about it from this perspective. If you categorically KNEW that the customer wanted to buy, what would be the most obvious thing that you could tell them?
It would be how to pay you. We take for granted that the customer knows how we want to get paid. We take for granted that the customer knows how to buy.
We have to spell out in very clear explicit instructions how to buy the product.
- Assume the sale and assume the customer wants to buy
- Tell them how to pay you
- Tell them what they need to do to get the product
But what if I don’t have any customers?
If you’re starting from ground zero, the fact that you haven’t got any customers is of no more or less significance than someone with hundreds or thousands of customers. If you know the types of businesses that you want to work with, do everything you can to get on the phone with them.
Remember, rule one of selling consulting, don’t talk about consulting. If someone is brand-new and has absolutely zero idea who you are, getting on the phone with them won’t be easy. But as long as you frame it around understanding more about their business, and helping them achieve their goals, you’ll be able to get calls.
People buy clarity and direction
People don’t buy consulting, they buy clarity and direction. If you can give them the transformation towards their goals, and away from their problems, or want to buy from you.
Ask them their goals and their problems and understand why they have that priority. Repeat back to them to demonstrate that you’ve been listening to their goals, problems and priorities. And then simply ask them if they want help. And if they do want help tell them how much is and how they can buy stop
I know what it’s like to create campaigns for customers who then become ungrateful. I also know what it’s like to try and find customers who want to buy consulting.
That’s why I created APEX Campaigns. APEX is our complete process for finding profitable customers and creating killer marketing campaigns for them.
If you want to learn more I can teach you here about how to discover “easy win” customers that will pay you for consulting here.
APEX Campaigns is my complete formula for discovering profitable opportunities with customers, creating incredible campaigns for them and selling workshops and consulting to them. I’ve got my complete outline of how I discover easy win clients here, make sure to check it out.