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Successful Independent Consulting: Relationships That Focus on Mutual Benefit

Successful Independent Consulting: Relationships That Focus on Mutual Benefit

Independent consultants often work for the promise of their business, their way. However, many technical consultants fail because while they enjoy delivering client value, they don’t like the marketing they need to do to get those clients.

We can reframe marketing and all other client interactions as relationships that focus on mutual benefit. If you and your client don’t both benefit from your interactions, something’s wrong—and you can fix that.

Instead of avoiding interactions, you can build relationships in the “consulting engine” loop that most successful consultants use:

- Determine your unique value
- Attract your ideal clients with content marketing or active marketing
- How to use the discovery call and proposal (and fees!) to reinforce a relationship of trust and competence
- How to think about your current and future offerings and when to change them.

When you focus on client relationships with mutual benefit, you can make your successful practice, your way.

Johanna Rothman

September 18, 2023

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  1. Become a Successful Independent Consultant: Relationships That Focus on Mutual

    Bene fi t 1 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman www.jrothman.com @[email protected]
  2. © 2023 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman In the Business: Your Consulting

    Engine • Create this loop: • De fi ne your unique value • Identify your ideal clients • Attract clients with content marketing • Build presence with active marketing • Build client relationships, starting with the discovery call • Create successful proposals with fair fees • Manage your intellectual property • Strengthen client relationships for more work and referrals 5
  3. © 2023 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman 1. De fi ne Your

    Unique Value • Why would people ask for you? • A “superpower”? • You offer something speci fi c and unique • Review past experiences for: • Tangible bene fi ts (direct $ saved, time saved, acquired clients, increased revenue) • Intangible bene fi ts (Cost of delay) • Peripheral bene fi ts (emotional bene fi ts, such as no need for layoffs, people stayed) 6
  4. © 2023 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Relationship Building Skills Matter Most

    • Consulting is a communications and relationship business, so those skills matter most • Build rapport • Built trust • Maintain self-esteem • Focus on outcomes • All about in fl uence 7
  5. © 2023 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman 2. Identify Your Ideal Clients

    • Start with pain signals • What do people see and hear? • Which of those signals do you want to address? • See the client’s system • Other fi lters: • Industry • Function • Level • Anything else speci fi c? 9
  6. © 2023 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman 3. Attract Clients with Content

    Marketing • Content marketing is NOT promotion or selling • Relevant and valuable content • You deliver regularly • That attracts and retains clients • Writing, speaking, networking for future bene fi t (not transactional) • Consistent content marketing works 10
  7. © 2023 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman 4. Build Presence with Active

    Marketing • Robust online presence (LinkedIn and your site) • Network online and at meetups • Plan for three months of outreach while you create content • Add people to your network • Go to meetups (not transactional meeting for people) • Call people to let them know you’re a consultant • Help people realize you exist 11
  8. © 2023 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman 5. Build Client Relationships with

    the Discovery Call • When clients want to talk to you, insist on a discovery call • Determine if you’re talking with the economic buyer or a technical, coach, or user buyer • Sets the context for trust • What is the client’s context? • What are the client’s boundaries? • Which options can you imagine • Decide when to respond and tell the client that 12
  9. © 2023 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman 6. Propose Alternatives, Each with

    a Reasonable Fee • Three alternatives • Shows you understand the problems and desired outcomes • Offers you a chance to use anchoring bias • Fees • Project or value-based, never by the hour • Do not accept anything over net 30 days • Ask for full payment in advance for a 5-10% discount • 50% deposit, the remainder net 30 13
  10. © 2023 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman 7. Manage Your Intellectual Property

    • Content marketing means you create all kinds of IP • Freely available: blog posts, newsletters • Nominal fee: books • Custom, higher-fee: custom workshops, custom articles, custom speaking… • Always read any contract (NDA, SOW, MSA, non-competes 14
  11. © 2023 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman 8. Strengthen Client Relationships: More

    Work & Referrals • Even if you have to offer bad news, stay congruent • Beware of these traps: • The client does it “wrong” • You want to add more work • You try to work at a different level • Con fl icting client goals • Change the engagement underway • Triangulate interpersonal issues 15
  12. © 2023 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Work On Your Business •

    Create systems for success • How you will make money • Manage your money, health, calendar • When and how to collaborate with others • What success looks like for you • Adapt and evolve your practice 16
  13. © 2023 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman How Will You Make Money?

    • Your business model • Managing your money, health, and calendar • Adapting your offerings and how you offer engagements over time 17
  14. © 2023 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Successful Independent Consultants • Create

    systems to do it “all,” one action at a time • Use content marketing to attract clients • Deliver valuable outcomes • Reassess what they want to do next • Create a business model that optimizes for their uniqueness • Learn and thrive! 18
  15. © 2023 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Let’s Stay in Touch •

    Pragmatic Manager: • www.jrothman.com/pragmaticmanager • Please link with me on LinkedIn • Writing workshop: https:// www.jrothman.com/freeinnerwriter • Book: https://www.jrothman.com/consult (available everywhere) 19