Let me ask you a question. How much are you worth? Not your life, because there is no dollar signs on a human life. But how do the skills you possess measure up to other talents in the pool?
“Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.”
Let’s be transparent on the subject of value when it pertains to yourself. You are only as valuable as you make yourself out to be. In other words, if you think you are a hot commodity, then you are. Vice versa, if you think of yourself as average, then you are! The first step to assigning worth to yourself and your skills is a boost in self-esteem.
This is called intrinsic value and it sets the tone for the rest to follow. How the rest of the world views you is thanks to a wonderful economic concept we call the law of supply and demand.
Let’s take a look through the extrinsic lens of consulting. Consulting is an immense profession and trying to capture all the industries in one article would take months. Today we are touching on management consulting in the U.S. and 3 hot tips to negotiate your worth and beat out your consulting peers.
Consulting as a Profession
659,200 management consultants worked in the U.S. in 2017. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a growth of 14 percent by 2026, onboarding 115,200 new consultants in the coming years. But what are all these people doing? What is consulting?
The definition is simple. You provide expert advice to specific people.
In management consulting that advice is given to organizations to help them improve their performance. You discover problems and develop plans to solve them. In more concrete words, a management consultant might assist in change management, develop coaching skills, conduct process analysis, implement new technologies, develop strategies, and create operational improvement services.
Negotiating Your Worth
Sell Your Expertise
You’ve just been in a car crash and have escaped from the vehicle unscathed. Not so fortunate for your friend whose sustained injuries and is bleeding. You call out for help. Several people run onto scene and one man steps up exclaiming, “Don’t worry I’m a heart surgeon!”
Doesn’t that man fill you with a sense of relief, knowing that your friend is in good hands?
It’s the same exact situation with management consulting. Providing business advice is terribly general. But when you specialize in an area, you have business specialization. Numerous specialties like strategic management, information technology, and financial consulting give authority to a consultant. Specialization gives peace of mind to the organization employing those services.
Because the last thing you want on the crash scene is someone to exclaim, “Don’t worry I’m a florist!”
Next time you decide to approach an organization to consult for, ask yourself this question: Who am I trying to sell my expertise to? If you are an expert on freight, then you want to talk to Chief Logistics Officer (CLO.) You’ll need to fluently speak the language of the field and keep up with current trends. You will be tested and the last thing you want to happen is to be hit with an unexpected question you fumble for an answer to.
Sell The Data
Big Data Consultant Myles Harrison said, “Just like you wouldn’t expect an author to write a book without a plot, or an entrepreneur to launch a new venture without a business plan, you can’t expect to march blindly into creating a report or article using data without knowing what you want to say.”
We all know data is important. It is non-biased, free from human emotion. But data is also boring and people would rather be doing anything else over reading spreadsheets chalked with numbers. So you have an opportunity to turn data into a good story.
But ERA, I’m not a very creative person. And that’s okay!
All you need to do is review the questions that you answered with the data you’ve collected. Here’s an example.
Q: Where is all my spending going?
A: According to your vouchers, 15% are in office supplies and 30% in healthcare.
A large majority of employees (75%) utilize healthcare services for their families, and 65% of employees are working remotely. Our data shows you could cut spending in office supplies to save unused money.
You’ve acknowledged the reason the organization hired you, provided the data, and added context with a simple story interweaved with numbers. It really is that easy.
Sell The Connections
Nothing beats a heart-to-heart conversation with a best friend or family member. It’s no surprise that despite living in a digital age, physical closeness to people is the best recipe to foster the strongest of bonds. Given the current social media landscape, selling your consulting services across the Internet may feel like trying to navigate the vast ocean aboard a yellow canoe.
Linkedin is the killer B2B networking site, but unfortunately if you don’t have a referral to bypass prospects, you will be hard pressed to break through with a ‘cold call.’ What’s a person to do?
Best start networking like a professional.
The first step of building your network is to create a referral program with your existing clients! Let them be your ambassadors, spreading the good word about your amazing service. Tapping into your current network is important not for lead generation, but future work and potential collaborations.
After using your existing network, you need to find physical events to attend in your industry. They can be formal (conferences, trade shows) or informal (happy hour’s, luncheons) but whatever the case, don’t try and sell your services. Instead, get to know the other businesses and collect their information to contact later online.
Protip: Ask an interesting question that will stick in the prospects mind. That way when you contact him online, he’ll remember who you were when y’all met in person!
So the next time you message someone on Linkedin, find out what friends you have in common and include this in your message:
You know Jesse too? He and I used to play golf in Wisconsin. Man, he’s got a killer wrist. How do you know him?”
Create a meaningful relationship, not just a business transaction.
Remember you are only as strong as your weakest link. Allow your intrinsic worth develop fully into an impenetrable shield. There will be many times throughout your career where people will shut you out. And when one door closes, another will open. It’s not about how many times you get knocked down, but that you keep getting back up.