If your clients understood these three things about you would win their business every time.
Lot’s of columnists write about confidence – how to get it, how to know if you have it, how to keep it up – so I know you don’t need to hear about yet another path to confidence. What I do want to discuss today is how to use the confidence you already have, the confidence you have earned from real work experience and learning.
You all have this in you – I know you do.
Confidence is defined as a belief that you can do something well, a belief that you have the ability to succeed at something and lastly a feeling that something is true. If every one of your clients understood these three things about you – you would win their business every time.
For a consultant who sells professional services this is more important to practice than anything else. Talking about products and services is secondary in importance. When clients are buying your professional services, they are buying you – your time, your knowledge, your confidence.
Let’s think about how you would build belief and a feeling of confidence in your clients with three simple steps.
1. Tell stories:
When you are talking with your clients and listening to what they need help with tell them a story. About you. Tell them a story about something you did in your career that lets them understand you have been in their shoes. If you are a marketing or brand consultant, tell them about a time when you had to create a strategic communications and marketing plan in your own past jobs.
If you are a business management consultant, tell a story about a growth business you have managed or a business change. How is the client to truly believe you know something about any of these topics with only fancy diagrams on your illustrated power point decks? Give them real stories.
2. Show results:
When you are telling a bedtime story to one of your children and you reach the end of the book, they sometimes ask, “What happened next?” Creative parents sometimes make up a more satisfying ending so the child will go to sleep. Your clients will be curious too when you tell your story. They will want to know the results of your marketing plan or your change management plan to believe that your advice to them is based on your own successful outcomes.
Lots of business consultants show pages of client logos and talk about the work they have done for “big names”. But you are the one the client may hire. Can you tell the client about your results and what happened in your story?
3. Speak the truth:
Being believable, authentic and sincere is an earned gift that requires commitment. You and I have always heard that people like to do business with people they trust. Your story and your results need to be believable and trustworthy.
A client will see through an exaggeration and while you may get the order the first time by impressing him, you may not retain the client in the long term.
Be honest about what you have done and what you have not done. Be careful about risking your credibility. It is the best long-term strategy for a consultant.
These three steps will make you feel confident and help you to win confidence. If you are a consultant like me, there is no better way to earn confidence than to believe and feel your own. I look forward to hearing your stories.