I’m a sucker for a good story. Most people are.
Fortunately, that trait makes selling consulting projects more enjoyable and easier. I use a simple template to craft the persuasive story that I tell consulting prospects. It’s astoundingly effective.
The type of story I’m talking about isn’t a tale of your derring-do, or even a case study presenting your success with other clients. I mean the simple story of your client’s problem and what you can do to help.
Alas, most consultants present a dry, dreary, logical narrative that doesn’t compel prospects to sign on the dotted line. An injection of life and emotion is needed. As you know, emotion fuels the decision to engage a consultant, drives the choice to hire you over competitors, and coaxes up the fees you’ll receive.
The essence of emotional persuasion was captured succinctly by Blair Warren in 27 words: “People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rocks at their enemies.”
Blair’s apothegm fits neatly with the 3-part story template I use:
Part 1: Describe and Vindicate Today’s Pain.
Example: At Consulting Associates’, your growth has slowed precipitously. Unfortunately, your firm is saddled by inconsistent approaches and lack of a cohesive vision. This is extremely common in consulting firms that have expanded to multiple offices, particularly with strong, independent practice leaders heading the different locations.
With only a few words I have confirmed suspicions about the problem (inconsistent approaches and vision), have justified failures (extremely common in firms like yours), and thrown rocks at enemies (those darn, independent practice leaders)
Part 2: Paint the Desirable Future
Example: Working together, we can create a growth blueprint for Consulting Associates that opens the door for $25 million/year in revenue or more. You will be positioned to open offices across the country while maintaining a unifying vision, and one-firm look.
Two sentences is all it takes to encourage dreams (aspirational revenue, multiple offices) while allaying fears (unifying vision, one-firm look).
Part 3: Reveal the Irresistible Path from Here to There
Example: Your Growth Blueprint will be anchored by a two-day work session, during which all eight partners will collaborate to work through our robust, 80-question diagnostic. The output of the diagnostic shows the team exactly which growth levers to focus on first… <description of approach continues.>
Note that my concise overview of the approach doesn’t just outline the steps. I actively connect my prospect’s desires to a concrete plan of action, further encouraging dreams and allaying fears.
Asking about risks and concerns (a.k.a. fears) is a routine part of the Context Discussion, as is uncovering desired outcomes (a.k.a dreams) and catalytic events (suspicions and enemies). Your groundwork during the Context Discussion pays off in spades when you develop the perfect story for your prospect.
Remember, consulting is a human business. A gut-driven business. The three-part framework above will allow you to connect with your prospects’ emotions, where the decisions are made. And that’s the starting point for your own, astounding revenue story.
What story has worked for you?
Text and images are © 2016 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.