I charge and regularly receive $3,125 for an hour of consulting. I quit consulting for years because, even at that rate, it wasn't worth my time. The main reason I started again is because I got tired of telling people no. And when I start something up, I tend to overdo it. So here I am again, neck-deep in consulting, and I figured I'd share some insights with you if you do consulting or coaching.
The following 8 insights are important because only about 20% of coaching/consulting comes from your specialized knowledge. Far more important is helping clients navigate through the different decisions that need to be made. You don't have to be a genius to be a great coach. Your main role is to help people get out of their own way.
Once you understand this, it will help impact all areas of your business, including how you sell - because selling is actually a specific form of coaching.
Here are the 8 tips.
If you plan for and expect a positive outcome, you're more likely to get it. Think placebo. Even if the client takes a sugar pill, it can work if they think it will work.
Another way to think about it is average advice given in a way that creates confidence is better than great advice given that also creates doubt. I expect that by being a fresh pair of eyes, I can help my clients.
Right now, they're trying to read the label inside the jar. What outsider couldn't assist someone in that situation?
Law of Reversed Effect
The harder your force an idea, the more resistance you'll get toward it. Nowhere is this more true than working with someone one-to-one. If you tell them what to do, they get defensive about it. You push on someone; they push back.
Most of my webinar consulting clients come in wanting to do automated webinars, and almost to a person I know, a live webinar (for now) would better suit their business. But if I tell them that outright, they'll be less receptive than if I say things like, "A challenge with automated webinars is that you don't get direct interaction with your audience to understand further what their objections are."
I do the same the other way: "Many people resist live webinars because more work is involved, especially up front. I enjoy that they stay away from doing it live because those of us who are doing them live to get even more benefits."
Some clients see the logic and then start asking me specifically… "If I were to do it live, how would I go about it?" Occasionally, clients try to convince me that it is now probably better for them to go live than to automate it.
Even if the client wants to continue with automated, I oblige even if I know objectively, in their case, it isn't the best strategy. I'd rather have them excited about a second-best strategy than reluctant to perform the best strategy.
I just help the client become more fully aware of the pros/con of each valid possibility and then assist with whatever conclusion they think makes the most sense.
Law of Repetition
It's better to give 1 key insight in 10 different ways than 10 different insights in only one way each.
When I coach, I look to create ah-ha moments - a key insight that, when heard, changes everything for my client. Example: in any market,20% of customers spend 80% of the money. Just stating that to you doesn't do it justice. You might "Get it," but it is unlikely to change how you do business fundamentally.
If you were my client and I saw focusing on the 20% would do wonders for your business, I would offer the idea up in various ways, like:
Stories. "When they went in to kill Bin Laden, they didn't send the whole army, but instead, they brought a small, well-trained group of elite soldiers…."
Third parties: "I had a client once who discovered that he could delete 80% of his non-buyer leads and actually increase his business."
Facts: "Are you familiar with the 80/20 rule…?"
Emotions: "If you could only serve one segment of your audience at the expense of everyone else, who would it be and why?"
Positive/Negative juxtaposition: "20% of your leads will account for 80% of your profits. Conversely, only 80% of your customers will make 20% of your profits. Also, 80% of your customers will only require 20% of your support, and 20% of your customers will take up the other 80% of your support. And who do you think requires the most support? Those that spend the least."
Offering the same insight through various perspectives and modalities gives the client a more holistic view of the situation.
The more angles you can look at something, the more insight you can glean.
Tell me what you're more likely to hear: (a) "Don't forget your car keys" or (b) "Remember your car keys." It's the former, not the latter.
We think about pain first, which can be helpful but has limits. One big limit is that the brain has trouble processing negation. Embedded in the phrase "don't forget your car keys" is forget your car keys. Tell your kids, "Don't spill the milk," and you've increased the chances they will spill it.
Alternatively, suggest, "Be responsible with the milk." You can feel how different this land is, can't you? When communicating with clients, I try as best as possible to state outcomes and instructions from the positive frame to reinforce the behaviors and attitudes most conducive to my client's success.
Instead of saying an activity has a high chance of failing the first time, I'll say it has a low chance of success of working right out the gate, so the focus is on success, not on failure.
It's tempting to want to be an oracle with your clients, especially regarding timelines.
I rarely give specific outcomes attached to dates because too many factors can blow those timelines out. When coaching, you want to stay in rapport as much as possible, and nothing ruins rapport more than making a wrong prediction.
Instead of saying, "It should take a week," I say, "You'll be surprised at how quickly it can take," or "Regardless if it takes a day, a week, or even a month, what you'll discover is…".
The reality is clients overestimate what they can do in a month and severely underestimate what they can do in a year, so your job is to help them from being their own worst enemy, so using soft timing estimations and focusing on the progress vs. outcome can help keep your clients on track.
We tend to remember things that are attached to strong emotions. Before I give the client insight, I try to put them in an emotional state most appropriate to that insight.
If nothing else, though, I build tension first before delivering the solution. Most clients come to me wanting an immediate answer, such as "How do I make my webinar presentation better?". I know the webinar isn't the only aspect of a successful campaign, so before I give advice, I need to see what happens before and after the webinar, too. So I tease the webinar. "Yes, we'll dive into the webinar, but before we do, I need to know context…" and "Ah, this makes sense, so later, when I show you a part in your webinar I think can be improved, we can connect it to this…" etc.
By the time I FINALLY get to what they wanted to dive directly into, they're grateful! Tension is your friend. Build it and use it to your advantage, and if you do it right, you can make even the ordinary sound amazing.
Find out what motivates the client, and attach that motivation to strategy. All clients are motivated by three things (1) power, (2) connection, and (3) accomplishment.
Of those three things, one of them is our dominant motivator. Whichever it is, we're motivated by both the positive and negative of it.
Take power - you are motivated to have it to influence others, and you're almost motivated to avoid being in a situation where someone has power over you.
For connection, you want to get closer to those you care about and get further away from those who can hurt you.
For accomplishment, you want the joy of winning but also to avoid the agony of losing. Each client is motivated by different amounts of the positives/negatives of these 3 factors, so I use all of them - but I key in more specifically to which motivation factor I think is strongest.
If you pay attention to this, you can soon almost sense it when you talk to others, so you frame outcomes based on either power, connection, or accompaniment.
Start/End with positive reinforcement
You tend to remember the first and last thing you hear.
When engaging with clients, I first highlight what is going right and what is good about the client, and when I wrap up with the client, I tend to drill it down to "If you do just this one thing, and nothing else, here is how amazing it can be…".
Clients soon associate starting and ending conversations with you with feeling good, so they'll (a) seek you out more often to work with you and (b) end up more likely successful because it's easier to take action and follow through when you feel empowered.
If I had to sum it up, we start on a high note, build up to the ah-ha moment, reveal it, support it through various perspectives, and then end on a high note. If you can fold in some of the rest, you're really cooking. And once you begin to realize that all coaching and consulting is just selling (of an idea, not of a purchase), you can take it to heights previously unheard of.
Great insights. I am financially constrained in both money and time so pledging money right now is possible but I look forward to future articles that will persuade me to be a paid subscriber.