I, Consultant: How to Humble Brag Your Value-Added

Solopreneur consultants and other business owners are always selling, sometimes overtly and other times discreetly. To sell effectively, we must understand and articulate the reasons that clients hire us. We need talking points at our fingertips and as always, it is necessary to adopt the prospective client’s point-of-view. Why would an organization leader hire me? What is my value-added?

1. You provide expertise.

Convince prospective clients that you possess the know-how that organization staff members lack. Let them know that you have the answers (without revealing specific solutions before you sign a contract). A high-ranking job title acquired in previous employment confers to you significant credibility. Well-known clients confer significant credibility. Speaking engagements at prestige venues, especially if you met the prospective client there, inspire confidence. Blogs, newsletters and social media serve to support one of the above, but neither alone nor in aggregate will they convince an important client to hire you (unless you get enormously lucky).

2. You identify problems or gaps.

The ability to quickly and accurately grasp the big picture is essential. Nevertheless, be advised that the client may not appreciate hearing the truth. Be diplomatic in how you bring problems to the client’s attention.

3. You supplement the company’s permanent staff’.

Downsized workforces became a fact of life in the early 1990s and nearly every for-profit and not-for-profit organization is under-staffed. Big companies can often afford to hire and would be wise to hire, but company leaders would rather keep payrolls light. The loss of productivity that under-staffing causes does not show up in an Income Statement, at least if acceptable top-line growth occurs. All organizations have been hit hard by health insurance and other operating costs. Consultants are hired to fill in the labor gaps because we do not receive benefits of any kind and when the project has been completed, we leave.

4. You introduce change.

For political reasons, it may be easier to call in a consultant to implement changes that management would like to make. The consultant is better equipped to defuse or prevent any push-back or sabotage, because s/he is a neutral party.

5. You provide training for staff.

Maybe you once ran a sales department and you will provide sales training, or you ran the human resources department and you’re hired to conduct team-building or diversity workshops.

6. You assist with a turn-around.

This assignment could start with a request to facilitate a strategy planning session. Vision-Mission-Values, or Goals-Objectives-Strategies-Action Plans will drive the turn-around. You ensure that there is follow-through, enthusiasm and support for the plan and that achievement of milestones and other successes are communicated throughout the organization and celebrated.

7. You assist with the launch of new products and services.

You may do market research and confirm the best prospects for the product or service and discover or confirm key target markets and their expected dollar potential. You may take an active role in the launch, joining with the marketing team to define the primary marketing message, timing of the product roll-out, formulate the advertising strategy and approve the PR strategy.

Finally, independent consultants must pay particular attention to how we will obtain clients. That process forms the heart of our business model. Speak with friends and colleagues who are highly placed within industries where you expect to work and figure out if projects can at least occasionally be awarded to you. Further, if you work with your employer’s clients, inform your very best friends of your plan and discreetly recruit at least one or two to follow you.