This is a great question from a new consultant who sees herself as an introvert. For her, marketing is a scary enterprise. Many evaluators are shy, yet they are usually very successful in their business lives. Here are five tips to remember:
1. Have a Zen approach. Think about baking. You take the right ingredients, mix them together in the right way, pop the cake in the oven and, voilà, out comes golden perfection. There was no stress involved yet timing was critical. Marketing is the same. You have a great portfolio, meet with the client, and something happens. It may be contract, it may be a great connection. Don’t let sales pressure mess with your head. Either way, something good will happen—if not this time, then the next.
2. Focus on the problem. When meeting your prospect, assess their needs and ask good questions. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Let them do the talking and listen well. Be sure they know you share their concern about this important problem and that you may have a way to help.
3. Add value. Offer some insider evaluation expertise, connecting the dots between your skills and a potential solution to their problem. Be innovative and engaging but don’t overwhelm them with your technical expertise. Giving away a little knowledge is a great way for opportunities to open up for you.
4. Forge links. Give them a sense of the real you. Share a brief personal vignette that relates to their experience. Show that you’re not only a crackerjack evaluator, you’re also an authentic and caring person.
5. Leave the money for later. You can design an evaluation to fit any pocketbook. After this preliminary discussion, you understand the size of their need and the size of their budget. Go away and crunch the numbers. Because people love choices, develop more than one option. Then set up another meeting to discuss the possibilities.
Leave your anxieties behind and focus on the problem. Nobody is being pushy here. Your skills, expertise, and character will shine through. Who wouldn’t want you to work on their next evaluation?
Gail Vallance Barrington
Originally published in the Independent Consulting TIG Newsletter, Volume 7, Issue 8. December 2017.
Barrington, G. V. (2012). Consulting Start-up & Management: A Guide for Evaluators & Applied Researchers. Los Angeles: SAGE.