For some people, closing the sale is the only thing that matters. But for many of us, what happens after the sale is even more important in the long run.
A consultant’s success goes beyond getting paid to give advice. If the client does not take the consultant’s advice, the client won’t get any value from it. And if they don’t get any value, they are not likely to hire the consultant again.
Before I started learning about High Probability Selling, I always thought that I needed to work harder to convince my clients to accept my advice. Stronger arguments, presented more enthusiastically. But it didn’t always work, and that concerned me.
And then, as I learned more about the principles behind HPS, I asked myself, “What if I delivered my ideas with less push instead of more? What if I presented them more objectively, more balanced, with both the negatives and the positives? What if I didn’t try to tell my client what to do, but rather make it completely their decision?”
Ultimately, I am selling my ideas, and I need my clients to buy into them. It’s a sale beyond the sale. It’s not about money, because they’ve already agreed to pay me to tell them what to do.
So how do I use High Probability Selling to do this sale beyond the sale? How do I deliver my advice?
I studied the process that Jacques Werth calls the Conditions of Satisfaction (in the book, High Probability Selling) and I adapted the principles behind it to deliver the details of consulting advice. In place of the list of Features, I used a very complete list of choices that the client could take. For each choice, I gave my opinions about the benefits and detriments (based only on my experience and judgment), and I also asked others to contribute their own opinions about outcomes. I usually wrote this all down on a whiteboard or flip-chart. And then, at the end, I asked the HPS Closing Question: “What do you want to do?”
No matter what they choose, I win (and so do they).
14 thoughts on “Beyond the Sale – A Consultant’s Story”
The most interesting idea in Carl’s article involves the client receiving value from the consultant’s advice as a result of choosing to take action on the advice.
This value comes from our contribution of ideas and expertise which will produce a substantial improvement in the company’s condition.
To provide more value, we can offer more options. This increases the likelihood of closing the sale because the client will have a greater range of choices available to meet their requirements or conditions of satisfaction.
Consequently, our consulting fees should escalate with an increase in the total number of options chosen because these greater number of options will provide more value to the client.
Ultimately, a happy customer who provides repeat business and new business referrals represents the lifeblood of the business consultant.
I guess I’d have to see some examples of more options = more value to decide if that makes sense..
ROBJSIMS3, let’s say that as you are discussing the client’s Conditions of Satisfaction, the client says they want all of the options you offered.
Rather than offering one option “with everything included”, you can structure three options from which the client can choose.
Option #1 would represent the minimum recommended service(s).
Option #2 would include Option #1 plus additional value added services.
Option #3 would provide them with everything included with Option #2 – – – plus even more value added services.
The value the client receives increases from Option #1 to Option #2 to Option #3.
I see..umm..that seems a bit contrived to me..unless something obviously MORE was expected of the consultant/service provider..
I mean if you’re paid for your advice/ideas..than I’d kinda expect multiple options if they existed..
For example..if an architect was consulted..I might have a rough idea of what I wanted..but I’d at least hope..if not expect..multiple ideas..maybe not multiple designs without extra costs..and in even that case..I’d want to know if his services included multiple designs..and I’d like to know if it was a standard practice to pay for revisions..or not..
That may not be a good example..but its just hard for me to think..off the top of my head..a consultant job your value added ‘advice’ applies to..
Let’s use your example of working with an architect and creating a home. This is a highly complex, multi-phased journey that necessitates a collaborative process with the architectural firm.
There exist at least 7 design phases to architectural services: Pre-Design, Feasibility Study, Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents, Bidding, and Construction Administration. Each of these phases involves dozens of steps.
The client may decide to hire another firm to perform one or more phases. The client may request multiple design options, a physical model, and 3D renderings during the Schematic Phase,
The fee charged by the architectural firm will greatly vary based upon the number of services and options the client chooses. The client will only choose those options that they perceive will provide substantial value to them. The more options the client chooses, the more value they believe they will receive, the higher the fee.
That makes sense..but I assumed the Consultant story was about charging for advice only…rather than including ‘add on’ services that were available..
That’s why I’m not sure if an architect is a good example..
Let’s say I’m a biz owner..and I hire a tax consultant to determine how I might be able to lower my tax burden..
I think I’d expect specific advice to accomplish my goal..that may include some very specific actions I could take..and I’d expect whatever fee I was paying..to cover those various options my consultant recommended..or suggested..
Many consultants give advice and sell services. There is a trust problem here, a potential conflict of interest. If the advisor is not making any money from giving advice, and only gets paid when the client purchases a service, how certain can the client be that the advice is really in his or her best interests? Even when you charge for the advice, this can still be a concern. It really matters how you present yourself and your advice.
That’s interesting…I’m not experienced at all in the biz of consulting..but as a service provider..in my case..janitorial services..I’m used to service contracts that outline specific services at pre determined intervals–based on my client’s service requirements..which more or less..conform to basic industry standards..
My guess is that you would not find yourself in a consulting role very often, if ever. In that case, “Classic” High Probability Selling will probably apply to you better than the consulting version.
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I have learned more about the relationship between HPS and consulting as a result of discussing this topic in-depth with you and Carl.
I am preparing for a future career as a consultant so let me thank you for contributing your comments to this article.
By the way, what inspired you to join the HPS blog?
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Thanks Carl and Julius,
I’m a big fan of HPS..I took a training class in HPS led by Jacques Werth a long time ago..its really had an impact and an influence on me..
Also, I’m very excited about the innovations and listening to other HPSers and learning from their experiences..
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In reading thru some of your comments again..what struck me was..if I approached a prospect..offering DAILY services..it wasn’t uncommon for a prospect to ask for something different..like a prospect preferring for 3x a wk service instead..in which I simply adjusted to their request-if it made sense biz wise..in our biz it wasn’t uncommon to do a preliminary site visit ‘walk thru’ to determine exactly how we’d clean the building–with how much labor, materials and equipment..and to determine the bid price for the contract–so in a sense we were ‘consulting’–as in sharing our expertise on how to deliver the cleaning services they were looking for..
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Speaking of “bids”, I get some of my leads from “Gig” websites where several vendors send quotes. I would prefer not to be among several bidders where I don’t have the opportunity to talk with a prospect or develop a relationship based on Trust, Respect, and Mutual Commitments before preparing a bid.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to learning more with Carl and his team about how to better approach “Inbound Prospects” with HPS techniques. I’m also excited about being a part of the Facebook HPS discussion group!
I think you’re in the right place!!