As a service provider, especially a solo practitioner, you can get really stuck talking about what you do. There are a few reasons for this:
I think we’ve all struggled through some (if not all) of these, but I have had some interesting conversations with my solo consultant clients recently, and I hope this information will be helpful for you, too.
At a minimum, you need to be able to tell anyone who asks who you work with and what you do for them.
Reading this may have triggered a stress response for you, but you’ll need to come up with something to say at networking events, family dinners, and co-working spaces. You can always adjust it later.
If you do a lot of different things, pick the one that is your biggest seller, or that is the easiest to describe.
Example: I work with entrepreneurs who have exited their business, helping them transition to a corporate job they love.
Example: I work with e-commerce companies who are trying to move from one-off transactions to maximizing the lifetime value of clients.
Example: I work driven female professionals in their 50s who are on the verge of burnout and meltdown, giving them strategies to better manage stress and engage in self-care.
What’s missing in this? I haven’t used a title.
I didn’t say “career transition coach” or “marketing strategist” or “life coach” because that could mean nothing – or a lot of different things – to people.
Instead, I focused on my ideal client and what I help them do.
If the person you are talking with is a potential prospect or knows someone who might be, they might lean in and ask a question or two to learn more.
The professionals I work with generally have 20 or 30 years of experience so they have a bunch of tools in their tool belts.
As a solo professional, you are selling your knowledge and past experience, but I find that sales conversations are much easier for the professional AND for the prospect, when you can walk them through your thought process or methodology.
This doesn’t have to be super complicated. In fact, I would suggest you keep it fairly simple.
If you pull up from the minute details, there probably are some things that you do for everyone. Keep some notes as you work through your projects because you may not remember the details at the end.
Once you have what you do written down in the order you do it, you’ll find some of the tasks can be logically grouped together as a phase of the project.
Example: What do you do when you onboard a new client? Do you have an intake form that they fill out? Do you interview key people? Do you review their existing processes? Do you catalog their current sales collateral and digital assets?
After you get the lay of the land, then what do you do?
And what after that?
You’ll want to keep it to somewhere between 3-5 phases for a project.
Now, when a prospect asks how you work with clients, you can say, “Generally, I follow a three-step process. In the first phase, I …”
Keep this short and sweet. Just hit the high points and you’ll find yourself and your prospect relaxing and feeling confident in your ability to work together and achieve results.
If you want to feel even more professional, you can name your methodology and the phases like I did with my PALMS™ Framework:
So, even though every client is different and I adjust what we do to fit their needs, I can walk a prospect through my overarching framework and give them – and myself – a comfort level that I actually know what I am doing.
When you have identified your ideal clients, you’ll start meeting them everywhere – chamber meetings, women’s networking groups, grocery lines, jury duty, etc.
In a service business, the easiest type of sale is “I did this for them and I can do this for you.”
When you clearly state who you work with and what you do for them, you put your stake in the ground as a professional.
When you can (briefly!) step people through your process and the way you approach your work, you establish yourself as an expert.
And, it helps you feel like one as well.