I hope you are well and I hope this finds you good health. I am not soyoung man of 25 years staying in Botswana. I love consultancy work and so I am grateful for a website such as your own. I however have taken up a 1 year experience gaining trip with one small firm. My first task was to write a Due dilligence report and thats how bumped into your site. I am one of those people who love talking and reading which has made me believe that I have been called into consultancy by talent. I have done a few coaching sessions and I want to pursue that. With age being my major disadvantage what can I do to enhance my career in this feild. The firm has said they can only pay me if I get clients for training. Otherwise I will get an equivalent of bus fare. How can I convince clients that they need our training servicesnd also that we can deliver.
Please Help. Hubert.
You humble me/us! Your love for our fantastic Profession is very apparent, and I wish you all the best. My answer to your question is fairly simple, but may not be easy to implement in your market. It is; however, a critical part of our Practices, and you ask a great question. First, please get rid of the notion about your age. There is no perfect age, as long as you can keep learning.
To progress in your market, you will have to use the talents that you were given. Talking and reading. Search for potential clients, whom you can visit 'face to face' by bus or walking, bicycle (if you have one). Then begin a dialogue (at their speed...don't push) with them using the following framework (taken from: SPIN selling by Neil Rackham, 1988):
S - Get to know the client's specific Situation. You may even be able to read or talk to others about them - a good place to is from their own customers - How are their products? How do they treat their customers? How well do they deliver? How is their price? Be careful with price, because it's always to high in the eyes of most customers.
P - Get the client to tell you what is their Problem. "...my problem is that I don't have enough qualified sales people to handle my customers... " There are many problems, so be careful to not stop listening after they tell you the first problem. The sales person may add that they get paid to sell product, not stick around and handhold the customer....
I - Work with them to really quantify and qualify the Implications inherent in their problem and situation. (The following is hypothetical) ...Your customers are going to be looking to a new competitor because your salespeople aren't working with them enough to make your products work properly (hypothetical). Your competitor took three customers away in the last month. If that trend continues you will have lost your top 30 customers by the end of the year. .... "Oh my goodness that would bankrupt me!" (So you now both know the value of your services, if you can help him/her!)
N - What does the client Need? Again, don't 'jump the gun'! There are always options; different ways to solve problems, and sometimes multiple things need to be done to solve the same problem. Again work with your potential client to frame the questions he/she wants to answer, and set a reasonable time frame. How long will it take me to train my sales force? Who can train them? How can I find better qualified sales people? How can I get my customer to tell my sales people the problems? How can I incentivize/pay my sales people so they are rewarded for working with my customers longer than just the time it takes to sell the product? From this, you can then shape a plan TOGETHER with your client, and get paid from the value you will create.
If you can learn to apply this collaborative dialogue of problem exploration with your clients, they will come to trust you and work with you over a long period and multiple projects, as they come up. You can have rich relationships, and maybe be a partner in the consultancy. Most top consultancies all over the world use some form of SPIN to teach their consultants to frame potential engagements with their clients. Kind regards and much success