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Want To Win Clients As An Independent Consultant, Advisor Or Service Provider?

Here are six principles you must know first.

Breaking away from the corporate world to become an independent consultant, advisor, or service provider can be incredibly rewarding. However, succeeding in this path requires more than just expertise in your field.

Many people I speak to who are considering starting their own online service have one main concern: how do I sell and get clients?

But rather than following some tactical sales rulebook, there are some essential principles to know and understand first.

The following are based not just from my own experience winning clients in my online public speaking business, but also from my time pitching to big brands when working in my management consulting role at KPMG.

You Before Me

This is the biggest mistake I see the most with newbies who start working independently: on calls or in emails, they go to major lengths to show off their own areas of expertise and strength.

This is important, of course, but the danger is that it becomes too “me-centric” and the person on the other end doesn’t actually feel heard or like you care about them.

The cornerstone of successful client relationships is understanding that your focus should always be on the client’s needs, goals, and problems.

Your expertise and services are valuable, but only insofar as they align with what the client is seeking.

Start by listening more than you speak.

In initial meetings, ask open-ended questions to understand the client’s pain points and objectives. This will not only help you tailor your solutions but also show the client that you prioritise their needs over self-promotion.

The power of speaking to customers

Even if you’re not actively selling, you should be speaking to customers all the time. For example in market-research calls, on masterclasses or simply engaging on social media.

This is because it will help you understand your ideal customer more and pick up on valuable information and data that you can then use when you do have more formal sales calls.

The closer you are to your customer and their pain points, the better you will be at knowing their overall challenges and selling off the back of that.

The law of attraction

The goal here is that you attract sales, you don’t chase.

Much like in dating, if you chase the person you like too much, you may have an unintended opposite effect.

They think — wow, this person is really into me, do they have no other options? And there might be too much pressure.

A similar psychological principle applies in sales.

While you should be doing some outbound sales (you contacting people) the ultimate goal is to get most of your sales to be inbound (prospects contacting you) via your website and the content you create.

In other words, you attract clients who come to you rather than chase them.

Give and You Shall Receive

Generosity and value creation are powerful tools in building lasting client relationships and selling.

By providing value upfront, whether through free advice, resources, or small services (such as a free audit in whatever the area your service is in) you can build trust and show them what you are capable of.

The rule here is to give, give, give.

No one likes to feel you are holding back until you get some money in your bank. Add value but be strategic about it.

You want people to think “Wow, already this has been helpful to me. Imagine if I was actually working with her!”

People buy from people

I am a big believer in the fact people often buy from those they know, like and trust.

As a public speaking coach, my clients had many other coaches they could have worked with.

But one reason they chose me was because of…me.

My authenticity landed with them.

Clients are more likely to work with you if they feel a personal connection and trust in you as an individual, not just as a robotic service provider.

So don’t be afraid to share your story and be authentic.

Let potential clients see the person behind the brand. This could be through personal anecdotes, sharing your passions, or showing your human side on social media.

Authenticity helps create trust and relatability. Plus, you’ll enjoy what you do more by building these connections!

No One Size Fits All

A final principle I go by when it comes to selling is to remember that no size fits all.

As a consultant, coach or service provider, you may well have your blueprint or special framework that you want to sell. And that’s great.

But sometimes, you may need to tweak or tailor that based on the client.

This is especially the case in the early days when you are likely to be working with clients on a 1:1 basis.

When you start to scale and productise your service, that will be less important. But when starting out, don’t be afraid to be creative and find solutions that might work better for them than the set offer you have in mind.

This comes back to always listening to them and putting them first (Principle 1) rather than yourself.

Another example would be to introduce payment plans for those who would prefer to pay in installments for your service rather than in one go.

Whatever it might be, try to realise the individuality of each person you talk to.

The bottom line?

Remember that sales is so much more than a step-by-step recipe to follow. These are the 6 principles I swear by. Give them a try and see how you do.

If you want to go deeper and would like to work with me on starting your own online service, you can join the ImagineThat Academy or connect with me on LinkedIn to learn more.


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