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The Compleat Consultant

The Compleat Consultant

1. Never assume the other party is damaged. Assume they are as healthy as you and intent on improvement unless they demonstrate otherwise.

2. Never focus on a sale, a fee, or “business.” Focus on the value you provide and the extent to which you can improve the client’s condition.

3. Do not develop close relationships with non-buyers, including virtually everyone in human resources and training, or you will be seen as their peer, and they are virtually never buyers of consulting services.

4. Hold a conversation, don’t make a “pitch.” If you’re using any kind of slides or visuals, then you’re making a sales call, not having a peer-to-peer conversation.

5. There is no such thing as an “elevator pitch.” Anyone who helps you perfect one is an amateur.

6. If you can’t quickly cite the value you bring to people and who the most likely clients are, then you haven’t thought carefully about your business or its impact.

7. Be prepared for success. Most consultants prepare for failure.

8. Self-worth and efficacy are independent variables. That is, you can be good at something and not feel that you have much worth, and you can be bad at something but nonetheless feel good about yourself. The point is to have both where it counts.

9. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying. If you’re afraid of failing, then you’re in the wrong business.

10. Language skills are by far the most critical, particularly in the use of proper grammar, wide vocabulary, metaphors, and analogies. Language controls discussion, discussion controls relationships, and relationships control business.

11. Never listen to advice from people who have not done in quality and quantity what they are advising you about.

12. Ignore unsolicited feedback. It’s for the sender, not the receiver. Find people whom you trust, and solicit feedback from them.

© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

Comments: 14

  • Jay W.

    February 14, 2009

    Wise, on target, counsel.

  • David S.

    February 14, 2009

    Is there a reason for the funny spelling of Complete or is this a typo?

  • Bob Ligget

    February 14, 2009

    “Compleat” is a variant of complete, generally used to denote a quintessential or highly skilled example of something. Most of us know it from the book “The Compleat Angler” by Izaak Walton (published c.1650, which everyone mentions but nobody reads anymore). Alan fits the definition obviously, and as always encourages us to be equally “compleat” as we expand our professional growth. Not there yet on my end!

  • Bob Smiley

    February 15, 2009

    OK, so in the spirit of “learning community,” can you explain the difference between #5 and #6? I thought the purpose of an “elevator pitch” was exactly to “quickly cite the value you bring to people”.

  • Bob Smiley

    February 15, 2009

    Thanks for that, I see your point. I wouldn’t listen, and I wouldn’t buy, and I do agree. I had taken the “elevator” part of “elevator pitch” to be symbolic of being able to explain your value propsition it the time it takes to ride an elevator, not literally to pitch it to people in an elevator. But taking the analogy to extremes, as people are wont to do, does introduce the issues you mention and I confess an unexpected relief now that I realize I don’t need it to be a standalone sales-pitch in a win/lose situation but rather a concise value statement within a conversation as part of an aspiring relationship.

  • David S.

    February 16, 2009

    on Compleat – Thanks Bob L. Maybe everyone else was too afraid to ask, but it wasn’t in my dictionary – I appreciate the insight and have a new dictionary on order.

  • Alan Weiss

    February 16, 2009

    Webster’s Unabridged should beat the hell out of Wikipedia. Just a thought!

  • Graham Franklin

    February 18, 2009

    Thank goodness it wasn’t only me in Ipswich-on-Mutton who could not see the point in trying to sell somebody in an elevator

  • Alan Weiss

    February 18, 2009

    You mean a “lift,” right? A “lift speech.”

  • Graham Franklin

    February 19, 2009

    Yes a “lift speech”. We will also be sending you a copy of the rules of Cricket

  • Alan Weiss

    February 19, 2009

    I assume that will come by freighter in nine containers….

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