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How to Be A Consultant: Why You Should Consider Writing A Book First
Marketing is one of the most difficult issues facing any consultant. It doesn't matter if you are freelance, a contractor or a consultant. It doesn't matter how you define the difference between the three. It doesn't even matter if you are a sole-practitioner, a co-operative, or a large consultancy. You must master three things as a business leader. And of those three, marketing is usually the most unnatural and important.
And let's face it, most of us suck at it!
But there is a solution that we can succeed with. A way of marketing our services and ourselves without having to suffer through the usual litany of agonies.
That method is to write a book.
Okay, great advice. Write a book. In fact, before you ever start your consultancy you need to be writing your first book. Wonderful. However, I'm a professional skeptic. Why?
Why should I consider writing a book before I ever begin selling my services?
There are a number of different reasons. Most of which apply no matter what type of business you are doing. But in this article, I'm going to share 5 reasons that are specific to consultants. Especially new consultants.
When we first become consultants, there is a tendency to focus on what we do. Sounds straightforward, doesn't it? After all, that's what we're selling. And everyone says we need to focus. The problem is, that isn't what are customers are buying. And we're not really focusing our efforts. As part of the process of writing a book, you need to identify four things:
1. Who your reader is
2. What their problem is
3. How you can solve their problem
4. What information they need to solve their problem
This is exactly what developing your market strategy is. But for some reason, it's a lot easier with a book than a business. Writing a book is also a much faster task than building a consulting business. So you can write multiple books and learn from your mistakes. And you'll clarify your mission as you go.
2. Focus on Your Strengths
Unless you are a sales consultant chances are that you're not a strong salesperson. Most consultants are analysts by nature. We have to be in order to determine our customer's problems. But analyst and salesperson are total opposites. Determining a problem and a solution is one of our strengths. However, typically, selling isn't one of our strengths. A book will make the selling process easier while the design and writing of it is playing directly into our analytical strengths.
3. Build Credibility
One of the biggest problems that new consultants face when selling is credibility. After all, no one can vouch for your ability to do the job. And credibility is one of the standard objections a customer will raise during the selling process. If you can't convince the customer you can do the job, then they aren't going to engage your services. Writing a book automatically gives you credibility. Not only that. The ideas you express in your book may resonate with the customer. And the way that you express those ideas can give the customer confidence in your ability to solve their problem.
4. Introduce Yourself
I debated doing this as a two-part reason. One of the marketing models is AIDA. "Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action" describes the sales process your customer goes through. It all begins when you grab your customer's attention. And books work very well for that purpose. But for a consultant there's a much more important reason. One of the criteria that your customers will use to decide to hire you is "Do they like you?" It may not be listed or admitted. But it will be there. Your book is like a networking event. It's a chance for them to decide if they like you or not. It's a chance for you to introduce them to who you are as a person.
5. Reduce Effort
Finally, one of the universal problems that consultants have is time. Especially if you are a new consultant trying to build a business while maximizing your billing time. One of the most wasteful parts of a salesperson's job is qualifying the buyer. You have to make a sales call -- spending your valuable time -- just to find out that the lead is never going to be a customer. Writing a book gives you a tool that you can use to pre-qualify leads. In short, you can reduce the number of calls where your lead isn't a candidate to be a customer. And make yourself a more efficient salesperson.