It is always easier to critique and comment on someone elses work. It is even easier to pick apart a failing business and make recommendations on what needs to change and most of the time, even with consultants is that people forget to speak up and say what is on their mind, but more importantly, companies forget to see why things may start falling apart and begin to help fix those things.
I’ve been on Client sites where I feel trapped and if I speak up, I loose the Client and because back then I wouldn’t have been ok without them, or not mature enough to realize that you cannot let Clients walk all over you and that even if you do loose your Client, even your biggest, guess what, there are more out there and if you are aggressive and good at what you do, guess what, you can land and bring on more and new ones. Anyways, we all run into those situations but you have to remember and find a way to help the Client remember that they hired you for a reason and you are there for a reason. I am guilty of not always saying what needs to be said which is bad on my part, but even more important I am going to man up and speak up more in the New Year. Not only do Consultants not do themselves a service by not speaking up, but their Clients are also left without getting their money’s worth or your full expertise.
It is completely true no Client likes to be told they are wrong and that they need to change, however if there wasn’t a need then you wouldn’t be there so you could very easily get fired and be out a ton of money, but at the same time, you can move on and find new Client that actually will listen to you and listen to your advice which is more rewarding than having to always smile and just agree with them. I hate when I have to do that and one thing I need to remind myself of more is to just speak up. Remind them they hired you because they needed you and also let them know you are not reliant on them because in reality, you aren’t. This also leads me to my second point which is also the main point of this post.
You have to always sell yourself. This is the same with every business.
If you are a consultant, you need to give some stuff away for free but make sure you don’t overgive or waste to much time on any potential Client, for me I give a one hour phone call for questions and answers, then a possible in person interview if they fly me out and another 30 minutes of my time with agreements. If the agreement has a signature in it within that time period, for me they are a serious Client and I’ll give them more time. If they don’t have an offer in writing and with a signature then I move on because they are looking for a freebie which I am not ok with. I recently got an email from someone on this blog asking me for a full site review, a full recommendation and strategy and then they’ll talk to me when they get it about giving me some consulting work. Ya, not so much going to happen, especially if I cannot do a public review of your site and rip it apart for my readers.
This is the perfect example of the person looking for the freebie. I used to fall for it a lot in the past but have wisened up now and am now going to really focus on myself, my life and my career for the new year.
Anyways, back to selling and making sure you are always doing it.
Every company needs to sell. Consultants need to sell themselves and their services, coffee shops need to sell their coffee their snacks and their merchandise and Hair Salons need to sell themselves even more.
I go to SalonBlu in Washington DC, however they were closed the last time I tried. Unfortunately for them, I am not 100% loyal to them and a huge mistake they made was when I left, no one offered me any product, no one walked me through which ones would work for me, but what was even worse was that they didn’t ask me to rebook myself.
Although they were really friendly, with the exception of when I first walked in and the stylist did an amazing job on my hair. By not offering to rebook me or ask if I would like to book ahead of time (BTW I am also a good tipper to my stylist, at least I think so, I tipped around $12 on a $35 hair cut. Not bad considering my hair takes 20 to 30 minutes to cut) I never got a phone call letting me know I was scheduled and even worse, never reminded me that I needed to go back there again or at least keep them fresh in my mind. Yes, I love their service, I love the products they used and I loved how they treated me after I finally got in the salon and asked for service so I will always recommend them, however I will not be loyal because they forgot to book me again and call me to see if I wanted to come back. Big mistake because the other week I went to Bang Salon up the street.
Although Bang ended up being a horrible experience, I walked in, was greeted but not in a way I would have hoped by the front desk people, they told me to have a seat but didn’t offer to take my coat, show me where to hang it up, offer coffee, etc… to me or even walk me through the salon or invite me in since it was my first time so I would know where the bathrooms are, etc… mainly because they were too busy talking to each other to pay attention to the angry customers sitting on their benches. Actually they didn’t even offer to rebook me or any of the other customers just like Salon Blu but what I did like was my Stylist at Bang. Normally with the service I got there I would never go back, but the stylist was awesome. He was friendly, memorable and really knew what he was talking about. I am purposely not mentioning names, but when I go for my next hair cut, I am going to see if Salon Blu has an opening since I love them the most, but if they cannot take me, I would normally never set foot in Bang Salon again, but the Stylist there was so professional and personal that I would gladly book it, only if he can take me.
There is a certain thing that really makes the difference to your customers. Selling yourself does mean pushing products and offering rebookings, but it also involves showing why you value being a part of the company, what makes you different and with the Salons, I want to be pampered while I am there. I want to feel special, otherwise I would go to supercuts and pay a lot less money and expect much less service (Oddly enough SuprCuts always rebooks me and always pitches me products and tells me why they are good for me and my hair) and be completely satisfied. So if you own a business, think about your Consultants and your company then ask yourself a few things.
Have you made it even slightly difficult or has someone in your company made it difficult for the Consultant to speak up. The most common thing to look for is if they are quiet in a meeting and the employees keep talking over them. There is definitely something wrong when this happens. Look and see if your customers are welcomed back and see if your employees are helping to make sure they get as much information from them so that you can re contact them when it is time to rebook them and be able to sell to them again. The last thing to think about is to remember to sell yourself and your business. Make sure your customers are being treated to match your brand and your company. Make sure they are getting what they are looking for and are not ignored. Make sure they are introduced to the people they need whether it is a Manager, a Customer Service Rep., a bathroom or even the owner depending on who they are. This is what makes the difference between a company that will get the most out of not only their Customers, their Staff and their Consultants, but also the most out of their own companies.
I hope you all have had a fantastic New Years and I know that in this New Year I am going to work at not only growing myself professionaly, but I am going to grow my business, sell myself and really get down to what needs to be done and said. Things may get tough and you’ll be able to tell by my posts but I know that I can pull myself back out of a bad thing and make it even better. I’m thankful that I am off to a great start and my goal is to keep it growing and building not only for the rest of the year but also for the rest of my life and then pass my lifes work on to the next person who is ready to take over for me when I am ready to retire.