🎙️Show Notes for Episode 083 of the IC PodcastOct 13, 2022
This may feel like a gut punch but the REAL reason your consulting business is slow
- Is not the economy
- Is not the time of year
- Is not your pricing
- Is not your strategy
- Is not your lead generation process
It’s YOU. You created the slow cycle in your consulting business and on today’s podcast, I’m going to walk you through why that’s true and why it’s great news.
This is the first of a 2-part series on what to do when your business is slow. Listen in as I share the 4 root causes that are slowing down your consulting business, and next week we will discuss 4 detailed examples of these root causes and the 4-step process you can use to turn this around and get back to a robust pipeline and ultimately a thriving business.
Whether your business is currently slow or growing, I highly encourage you to listen to this episode as the solutions that I will share will help you preemptively prepare for potential challenges.
Key points in this episode
- [03:11] Why you are in a slow cycle
- [04:26] Why your pipeline unhealthy
- [08:09] Setting the record straight
- [09:21] Check out the guide Filling Your Consulting Pipeline in 26 Minutes a Day
- [10:32] What is a pipeline (definition from salesforce.com)
- [12:19] The seven stages of a sales pipeline
- [13:15] What is lead generation (definition from freshsales.com)
- [14:28] The foundational cause of your pipeline being unhealthy
- [18:29] The four areas that make up a strong foundation for you as a business owner
- Your thoughts about yourself
- Your thoughts about your potential clients
- Your thoughts about consulting
- Your thoughts about your offering
- [26:32] What to expect in the next episode (EP. 084 - Slow Cycle In Your Consulting Business. The 4-Part Solution)
- [27:41] How you can prepare for next week’s episode
- [28:36] Wrap up
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**note: This is an automated transcript, so please ignore spelling errors and grammar mistakes*
Welcome to Episode 83. Today we're talking about why your consulting business is slow. So I talk to as you know, I talk to independent consultants every day, every week; this is what I do. So many of you are telling me that your consulting business is slow. And so that's why I wanted to create an episode. It's two episodes, today's and next week's, about what you get why your consulting business is slow and what you can do about it. Before we talk about that, though, I want to let you know that this is not the State of the Union. There are a lot of consulting businesses out there independent consulting businesses out there that are thriving, that is growing, that is growing at a trajectory that is surprising you know, the independent consultants running them. So this is not this topic today. That, you know, talking about your consulting business being slow is not something I'm telling you; it's just the State of the Union, the situation in our economy. I'm addressing this because I know some of you are facing this challenge. But I also want you to know it doesn't have to be this way that the solutions that I'm going to be talking with you about today. And next week, you can apply these right now at any time, regardless of the time of year or the state of the economy. So, let's dive in and talk about this week's topic, which is business slow for you. Now what, why is it slow? And I want to also invite you, if your business is slow, you're here in the right place. If your business is not slow if you're one of those consultants who does have a thriving business, who does have you know, are is on the verge of having more work than you can handle. I also highly encourage you to listen to this week's episode. Because of what we're talking about, you can look at it from the lens of preemptive illness. So many of us as independent consultants go into a role of a bit of a roller coaster cycle. And it's so easy to go from really feeling like things are you're on top of the world, and things are going well. And then hit a rough patch and go down into this slow cycle. So this is helpful if you stay tuned to this episode and listen from the lens of what I can be watching out for in my business so that I can preempt or avoid getting into this type of slow cycle. So with that, whether you are in a slow cycle or you want to avoid a slow cycle, let's talk about it and start off with the perspective of Why are you in this slow cycle. And today's message that I have for you might make you frustrated, you might even be a little angry with me. But what I have to say today needs to be said. And so I'll tell you what I mean by that here in a moment. Why is your business slow? The root cause of a slow consulting business is that your pipeline is not healthy. If you had a healthy pipeline, your business would not be slow. Because you would have even if you had a client dropped off, that wouldn't mean that your business becomes slow because you would have another client to replace them from your pipeline. Or if you finished a client, you would have another client to replace them in the pipeline. Or if a client in the pipeline that you thought was going to close didn't end up closing, you would have another one to replace them. So your business is slow because of the health or unhealthiness of your pipeline. Now, why is your pipeline not healthy? Why is your pipeline slow? This is where he might be; I'm going to be direct with you; you are the cause of your slow pipeline, you are the cause of your unhealthy pipeline, and therefore you are the cause of your slow business. Now,
I'm not here telling you this to make you feel bad. Of course, I'm not; I believe in you in independent consulting. And it's my passion to make all of us successful in this business model. But I'm saying this to you so that you see the stark and honest facts of the situation, that you created this slowness in your business because of the health of your pipeline or lack of health in your pipeline. And it wasn't the economy, it's not the time of year, it's not your lead generation process, whether the one you chose was effective. And you should have picked a different one, it's not about what strategy you chose. It's not about your pricing; these things did not create a slow business, these things did not create an unhealthy pipeline; what did create that is you and the way that you're thinking, and therefore the results that have shown up in your pipeline, or there is the lack of results in your pipeline. And so I'm calling you out today because for two reasons; number one, to just be super direct and honest here, that you are the cause of, you know, your business, my friend. So you're creating this dynamic. But the other reason I'm I'm calling you out on this today is that the great news is that you're the one who created the situation for yourself; you're the one who has all the power to be able to fix it. You don't have to wait for the economy to get better. You don't have to wait for all the economic uncertainty to go away. You don't have to wait for the time of year to change in order for you to turn your business around and create a healthier pipeline. And therefore make you know to start moving your business from being slow to thriving. You have power over all of that. So that's the great news today, you've created this situation. It doesn't matter why. There are plenty of reasons that might have happened, but not a problem. Let's just go to work fixing it and understand it today. And next week, we'll go to work fixing it. Okay. So today our focus is on why is your business slow. And we're going to address that. We're going to just peel this back to the very basics of your pipeline health. And then we're going to talk about the four root causes you're creating that result in this pipeline slowness. And then again, stay tuned for next week. Because we're going to take what we're talking about today, the root cause of why is your business slow. And then we're going to build upon that. And I'm going to give you a four-step process that you can use to turn this around and get back into a robust pipeline and ultimately, a thriving, growing business. All right. So this is all good news. I'm telling you, it's your fault. But that's not a problem. We know how to fix it. I'm going to teach you, and I'm going to help you fix it. Okay. So, before we get started two things, I wanted to set the record straight on something first, and then I want to offer you something that can also help put a solution in place. So in terms of setting the record straight, a couple of episodes ago, I realized I said something incorrect. In one of the past episodes, I have been in business for 12 years, but that is wrong. I have been in business for 10 years. So I just want to make sure that I am factual on this. And if I make a mistake, I just want to own it and tell you that I somehow advanced myself by two years.
So let's not do that because I don't want to age my increase my age more rapidly than an RD is doing on its own. So nonetheless, my business is 10 years old. It just so happens that my son my oldest son is 12 years old and it was his birthday the week I was recording that episode. And that's how I ended up getting the two things mixed together. So anyway, just to set the record straight my business She's 10 years old. So if it feels like a discrepancy, or if you ever go back and listen to that episode and hear me say it was an honest mistake. Okay? With that being said, Then I also want to offer you and invite you to go download a free guide that I have on my website. It is a step-by-step process to fill your consulting pipeline in 26 minutes a day. And it's a great complement to the episode we're talking through today. And the episode that we're going to talk through next week. So go down that low that pipeline or I'm sorry, that guide to fill your consulting pipeline and 26 minutes a day, it's going to help you address this, this pipeline health. And from more of a strategic perspective, what should you do? What are the mechanics of what you should do in order to use your time most effectively to be building your pipeline? So be sure to go download it at Melisaliberman.com/ram; that RAM is the name of the framework that I share with you in that download. So go grab that; that will help you get into action while we work through today's topic, which is why is your business slow. Why is your business so the reason why your business is slow is that your pipeline health not where it needs to be? So what one thing I'm gonna start with here, again, we're just going into the basics is what is a pipeline. So let's just get on the same page about some of these terms we're going to be using today so that you can put this episode into action in your business in the most effective way. And in fact, a listener reminded me the other day that I used to start off a lot of these episodes with definitions. And they liked that because it just provided some context. So let's go back to that here today. What is a pipeline, so I went to salesforce.com because that's what they do for a living? And I grabbed their definition; I made a couple of tweaks to it, but nothing, nothing too significant. A sales pipeline is a visual representation of where all your prospects are in the sales process. This allows you to gauge likely revenue, it provides a snapshot of the health of your business. After all, you can't manage what you don't measure. Again, a sales pipeline provides a snapshot of the health of your business. Continuing on from salesforce.com, imagine a pipeline as a free-flowing river. If there are problems upstream, there will eventually be problems downstream. Pipeline management allows you to catch tiny problems before they become big problems that impact revenue. With it, you can estimate how much you might close in a week, quarter, or month. Oops, I did that out of order, week, month, or quarter. Okay. So that's what the sales pipeline is, by definition. It provides you know, and it tells you where your prospects are in the sales process. And it gives you a snapshot of the health of your business. Another thing that I want to share with you here before we move on that I thought would be helpful. What are the seven stages so every independent consultant has some slightly different stages?
You may have slightly different stages than you know from what I share right now. But they're generally directionally these seven stages of a sales pipeline. If you don't yet really haven't even formalized the sales pipeline yet then you can just use these products' stage-one prospecting. I use that interchangeably a lot of times with lead generation. So prospecting, stage two lead qualification, stage three, solution design, stage four proposal, stage five, commitment, stage six, contract execution, and stage seven delivery. Okay, so that is what we're talking about a pipeline; then let's just quickly define what is lead generation because we use this term so often, and I'll use this term so often in today's episode, and then also, you know, just generally on this podcast so often, so this, this definition I found I liked the best it comes from a CRM called Fresh sales.com. I'm not familiar with this software, but I love the definition that they shared. Lead Generation is the process of finding and tracting people, which are leads in this context, who are likely to become your clients immediately or in the future. So again, lead generation is the process of finding and attracting leads or people who are likely to become your clients immediately or in, or in the future. So this is meaning or finding or attracting people, like executive sponsors, or stakeholders or buyers, or, you know, people in corporate with a problem like that's what the word people means in this context, who are likely to become clients. So they are likely to sponsor you or contract with you to become your client immediately or in the future. Okay, so now that we have those two definitions under our belts, let's talk about why is your pipeline healthy, not where it needs to be, and therefore your business is slow. The reason why it all comes down to the way that you're thinking. And you might think that that's kind of crazy. I used to think that when people would when I first started coaching and was hearing these concepts, I thought that was crazy. I'm going to share with you today why it's not crazy, why it's why your thinking is driving everything. So let me walk you through this, the way you think we'll think about it like as a foundation of a house, though, you're way you're thinking is, is analogous to the foundation of that house. Another word for it is your mindset is the foundation of the house. So it's what everything is built upon. And then any strategy or any tactic, or, you know, anyway that you end up operating is like the house on top of that foundation. So if you have a strong foundation, you can put a lot of creative designs on the top right; any kind of crazy house design can live on top of a strong foundation; it's going to be solid and sturdy. If you don't have a strong foundation, anything you put on top of that foundation, that house in the example we're using, is not going to withstand the pressures. So if you don't have a foundation, from a mindset perspective, that's a business owner mindset, for example, or you don't believe in Think about your mindset, you just go about your day executing and working on all the deliverables and things you have to do, and not think about the way that you're thinking about your business, and not consider the way that you're thinking about your clients and the market and the lead generation process itself. That's when it becomes shaky. Because what ends up happening is you're working off of a foundation that you just took for granted; it's probably some old employee-based foundation that you created at some point along the way. And you haven't cultivated it to make it strong as fit
for the purpose of what you're doing now. So when you create that strong foundation, which again, is the mindset of a business owner, and create it very intentionally, it becomes this very strong, solid, sturdy anchor for you. And almost anything you put on top of it will work. Any kind of lead generation strategy you put on top of it can be very successful. If you don't have a strong foundation where you see yourself as a successful business owner, for example, if you don't have a strong foundation, where you think of yourself as a business owner and someone who is either good or learning to be good at sales, you've got the shaky foundation from which you're operating. And then whatever strategy you put on top of that, it's gonna be really hard to make that last to make that successful in withstanding the pressures of you know when you get rejected. It's like, oh, no, I have the shake of this house. I built the strategy I built on a shaky foundation. And when the first thing that doesn't go quite the right way. It becomes really hard to continue moving forward and to be resilient and to be able to problem solve when you don't have that strong foundation. Again, the foundation is the mindset and the way you're thinking about things. So let me tell you more about what I mean by that. The four areas that make up a strong foundation for you as a business owner come down to four belief systems. There are four belief systems. The first is the thoughts you have about yourself. You might be thinking, I'm not good at sales; I'm not good at selling myself. Versus I'm learning, I've done this before, in a different way, and I'm learning how to do it. In my business. Now, do you see the difference? Do you see how thinking about yourself as I'm not good at this is that shaky foundation, and thinking about yourself, as I've done this before, in a different context, or I'm learning how to do this, and I'm, and I'm, and I'm getting better, I could leverage my consulting skills to get better at this. Do you see how that leads to a different solution, a different outcome for you? One of them creates slowness in your business and a really small kind of weathering pipeline. And the other one creates the robustness and the dynamic where you get to the place where it's more work than you can handle. So the four belief systems are the thoughts about you, the thoughts about your potential clients? What do you think those potential clients are thinking? What do you think those potential clients are thinking about you? What are your thoughts about consulting and your consulting offerings? And fourth is, what do you think about the lead generation process you've designed for yourself and your business? Those are the four belief systems you've got to get into a rock-solid state to then put a process on top of them to fill your pipeline. So let's go back and just revisit here, why is it the belief that it comes down to this belief system instead of a strategy? Why is it that the belief system you're operating from is the difference between you having a slow, healthy pipeline and a thriving business versus a slow pipeline and an unhealthy pipeline and a slow one? I used to think that this idea of it's, you know, you've your it's your belief, if things aren't working, it's about what you're thinking and your mindset and your beliefs. I used to think that that was, that was not that was made up. I'll say it nicely. That was made up. I used to think that strategy was everything. And you might be in the same bucket where you're constantly out researching, trying to find the right way to do something, trying to find all the right steps to take to make a strategy effective, and constantly searching for the right answer to like some set out unlock the ability to create this repeatable, consistent pipeline.
But after doing this for so long for myself and working with so many consultants who've struggled with the same thing, I've realized that I was wrong. I was wrong for probably five years, maybe longer, maybe seven years. So I got, I figured this out, because I was just constantly curious about why would the same strategy. Like let's just take a simple one, why would the same strategy of networking create a lead generation or I'm sorry, clear create a pipeline? Why would the same strategy of using networking create a pipeline for two consultants who do roughly the same type of consulting why would it work for one and not for the other? Was it because of their skills? Or was it because of who they knew? Who was in their network? Was it because they were an introvert or an extrovert, like constantly digging into all of this? Was it because, you know, what was it that was causing the difference when they were both using a very similar strategy? And time and time and time again, I found that the difference was, always came down to the nuance of the way they were thinking and how much they believed in themselves, how much they believed in the prospect axe that they were selling to, and that those prospects wanted what they wanted, you know, to work with them, how much they believed in the lead generation process that they selected, and how much they believed in their own ultimate consulting services and offers. That was the difference. It wasn't anything about, you know, whether they were even allowed to, you know, quote, unquote, had permission to believe those things or not, or somehow reach a certain bar to believe that the to allow them to believe that these things were true for them. It just was truly them deciding that, that, that they were the best consultant for that client. And that client wanted to work with them without any true evidence. So that's how I know that it's the belief system that at the end of the day, really drives whether or not your lead generation process and your pipeline processes are going to be successful or not. Again, it goes back to your ability to have an unwavering belief in yourself, as a business owner in you as a salesperson, in you, as someone who's after the sale will crush it in the delivery of that potential consulting service. I'm sorry about that consulting service. It's viewed having as a rock-solid belief in your potential clients. And when you're talking to a prospect, giving them the benefit of the doubt that they want to work with you go for the assumptive process versus waiting and being skeptical about giving to see if they have a sign that they're, you know, they want to keep moving forward. Go at it from an assumptive versus a skeptical perspective; prove me the right perspective. It's about having an unwavering belief in the lead generation process that you chose; whatever it is, it doesn't even matter. I mean, don't go, uh, personally, I wouldn't recommend running Facebook ads. Depending on your service type, there are very few consulting services where you're selling to corporate, where a Facebook ad would be, you know, appropriate. But when we're talking about lead generation strategies that are appropriate for an independent consulting business, things like networking, or speaking or writing those types of things. If you have a rock-solid belief in what you chose and that you know it's going to work, it ends up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy that it does work; when you operate it off of, I don't think this is going to work, but I'll give it a try. When Alyssa told me to do this, I better do it. I don't think it's going to work. But I'll do it anyway. You know, whatever that
is, you can see that that will lead you down a different path than if you choose to have an unwavering belief. And when you don't have one, put the process in place that I'll share with you next week to create that unwavering belief or reinforce it. That's going to be the difference for you between having these ups and downs in your business and an unhealthy pipeline and ultimately, a slow business versus you having a thriving, healthy pipeline and therefore a growing, scaling the consulting business for yourself. Those are the four foundational elements. And so today we've worked through what is the root cause. Why might you have slowness in your consulting business? Now, stay tuned. Is that a cliffhanger? Stay tuned for next week. And I'm going to go through exactly what to do about this in order to build up those belief systems so that they are unwavering and rock solid. So that then you've got this strong business owner foundation for yourself. And whatever house you put on top of it, whatever lead is the equivalent of a lead generation process you put on top of it. Because you chose that one and you wanted to do it can be impactful and effective. So next week, I'm to share with you those strategies to create and reinforce these belief systems and to redirect when things become shaky because honestly, I've been doing this for 10 years, but they still become shaky. I don't; that never goes away. I hear from people who are, you know, have built multimillion-dollar businesses that it doesn't go away. So we want to make sure that you can build these strong belief systems and maintain them and reinforce them when you need to. So that's what we'll be talking about next week. In the meantime, I suggest diving in and figuring out for yourself where might you have that kind of lack of a rock-solid belief, so maybe a shaky belief about yourself? Would you in to do this just sit down and journal for a while? What do you think about yourself as it relates to your ability to maintain a high healthy, build and maintain healthy pipeline? What do you think about your prospective clients and their willingness to work with you? What do you think your potential clients are thinking about you? What do you think? What are your thoughts, just unvarnished thoughts about your lead generation process and whether you think it's going to work or not get all of this out; bringing it to light doesn't make it any stronger or make it any more reinforced. It just helps us to know what you need to want to be working on to replace. Okay. So ultimately, if I wrap all of this up for you today, what I found is that the health of your pipeline, and ultimately, whether your business is slow or thriving comes down to those beliefs, those four belief systems do you believe the strategy or implementing will work? Do you believe when you take action against the strategy in an unwavering way that you're going to make it work? No matter what you're the kind of person who makes it work. Are you operating your processes and yourself and your pipeline off of confidence and certainty or skepticism and hesitation? That's what makes the difference between a healthy pipeline and an unhealthy pipeline and ultimately creates a slow business or a thriving business. So that's what I have for you today. Be sure to tune in next week. Now that you know the root causes for what's created a business slow, a business slowdown, or a slow cycle. Next week, we're going to focus on those four specific steps you can take to tackle these root causes. The way you're thinking about those four areas and start, you know, let's tackle them head on and start turning your business from the slow back into thriving. All right, don't miss it. Thanks for tuning in this week, and I'll see you again next week. Take care.