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.