Michael Zipursky is the founder and CEO of ConsultingSuccess.com, where he helps consultants attract more clients, increase their fees, and structure their consulting business for success.
His latest book, The Elite Consulting Mind: 16 Proven Mindsets to Attract More Clients, Increase Your Income and Achieve Meaningful Success is a treasure-trove of information on how to build a successful consulting business.
Rather than focusing on specific tactics or strategies, in this book, Michael’s guides you through the most important factor in your consulting business — your mindset.
Michael’s experience as THE business coach for consultants is what makes this book a must-read for independent consultants and consultants at small firms. You’ll find the stories within relatable, engaging, and most importantly — actionable. You’ll be able to identify where your mindset is holding you back, and then improve it.
Here are 5 of my key takeaways from the book.
5 Critical Mindsets for Consulting Success
1. Confidence is Key
Confidence dictates how successful you will be in your business. Given that you’re a consultant, you’re the expert. You can’t sell your expertise without the confidence to back that up.
That said, Michael writes that lack of confidence is the number one enemy in the world of consulting. It’s holding you back from marketing, selling, and increasing your fees effectively.
Confidence is one of the key ingredients to success as a consultant:
Competence + Confidence = Success
If you find yourself constantly doubting your expertise (which causes this lack of confidence), then remind yourself of this:
Have you been able to create results and provide value for your client’s and employees? If your answer is yes, then its time to stop doubting yourself. You’ve already proved that you’re good enough to people along the way.
Put in simplest terms, if you know your stuff and can provide value and results for your clients, or if you’ve done so in the past, you can honestly call yourself an expert. And you should, boldly and confidently.
When you focus inwardly, you’ll start to doubt yourself.
When you focus outwardly on the value you can create for your clients, you’ll be reminded of all the ways you can improve their businesses and their lives. That’s where you draw your confidence from — the value you create for your clients.
2. Focus on High-Value Tasks
As a consultant, your time is valuable. If you’re spending time tinkering with your website, putting together presentations, or adjusting spreadsheets, then you’re spending time that you could be talking with buyers and writing for trade publications on tasks that you should outsource.
These tasks are better handled by an outside party with expertise in that area (or automation) — freeing up time for you to do what you do best, and what matters most for your consulting business.
If you could make more money by spending time doing something else for your business then it’s a low-value task. Example include formatting documents, putting graphics into presentations, adjusting spreadsheets, updating text or images on your website, uploading blog posts, going to the post office, and bookkeeping.
The danger of these kinds of low-value tasks is that you don’t always realize how much time they are taking up.
If you’re spending 20 hours a week on low-value tasks, that’s time you could spend on marketing your business (getting in front of buyers) and selling your services (having value discussions with buyers, and making your offer). If you’re doing these low-value tasks because you think you’re best fit to do them — you’re wrong, and this mindset is holding you back from growing your business.
Growth comes from maximizing what you’re best at and what’s most important for your business. Outsourcing tasks that take time away from your most important activities (marketing and sales) is as critical as marketing/sales itself.
In the end, you’re not saving any money by holding onto all those menial tasks. You are costing yourself. Every month that goes by where you waste hours on low-value tasks is another month of lost revenue. That’s an opportunity cost.
3. Prioritize Getting In Front Of Buyers
If your activities are not helping you start more conversation with more buyers, then it’s not helping you grow your business.
The quickest and most direct path to success, to growing your business, is to reach out to your ideal client with a message that you believe speaks to their needs, problems, or desires.
To get in front of buyers, you’re going to have to send emails. You’re going to have to pick up the phone. You’re going to have to follow-up. All of these things may make you uncomfortable, but they are critical to winning new business.
Getting in front of buyers is how you offer your expertise to them in the first place.
What really brings in new clients and new revenue are the things that people often avoid like the plague: picking up the phone to follow up with a prospective client, sending them a letter or email, writing to the editor of a trade publication, creating a brand-new piece of thought-leadership content. All of these things are also challenging.
Ask yourself: what are you doing to get in front of buyers? Does the activity you’re working on help you start more conversations with them?
4. Make The Offer
Without making offers, you’re never going to win more projects.
Outreach -> Conversation -> Offer -> Proposal -> Decision
Your “Offer” is in the middle for a good reason. It leads to proposals. And the more proposals you send, the more business you stand to win.
I see it all the time, consultants who are struggling because they don’t make clear offers as part of their sales and marketing activities. They might believe that holding back won’t impact their business, but it does. It always does.
If you’re talking to your prospects consistently, but none of these are turning into new projects, ask yourself: Are you making an offer? If not, you need to make the offer. If you are, is your offer clear enough?
Don’t just rely on referrals. If you cant win business predictably without relying on referrals, then you’re relying on luck. This is unpredictable and can lead to real suffering in your business:
It’s a marketing strategy that is built solely on hope. In the end, you’re left relying on your network and referrals, but when the referral well dries up, you’re in trouble. That’s when the real suffering begins.
Successful consultants aren’t afraid of the sale. They understand that to move the sales process forward, they must make an offer to each of their prospective buyer. All of your prospective buyers have a problem and have a place they want to be. After learning about that problem, you need to a make a clear offer to help them solve that problem.
Once they [consultants] recognize that the best way to help someone is to make a clear offer of their product or service, their business soars to new heights. In fact, your business will grow in direct proportion to the number of offers you make.
5. Adopt an Abundance Mindset
The most successful people have a mindset of abundance. If an opportunity presents itself and it’s not a good fit, they feel free to say no because they are convinced that a better opportunity is right around the corner.
As a consultant, your time is incredibly valuable — and you need to treat it as such. Saying “No” more is how you create more time.
If you don’t respect your time, then your clients won’t either. Setting clear boundaries and expectations to them is how you show them that you respect your time, and they will follow.
But if you accept more work without more compensation, you’ll wind up diluting your value and training your client that you’re happy to essentially do work for free.
When a potential client decides to go with a different consultant than you, pick up the phone and ask them why. Use it as a learning experience.
Winning new business takes time. It 7 “touches” to turn a potential client into a paying client. Some of your potential clients will read your material for years before they hire you for a project. Focus on creating an abundance of value.
Communicate your value effectively, and your clients will pay more for your services. When you communicate your value effectively, you make the ROI clearer for them
You can find a link to the book here: https://www.consultingsuccess.com/mindsetbook
If you’re struggling in your consulting business, then you need to zoom out and look at the big picture: examine your mindset.
Michael will take you through the 16 mindsets holding you back, ask you the tough questions, and then give you the blueprint for fixing your mindset.
Which of these mindsets resonates with you most?
Where could you improve your mindset in order to improve your consulting business?
Let me know in the comment section below.