The Biggest Consulting Misconception Is Holding You Back From Limitless Growth
Business Development in Consulting, Consultancy's Profitability, Educating the Target Audience
I was drinking my morning coffee when I saw a LinkedIn post from a fellow consultant on my feed. It started off strong. She opened with a gripping introduction about some bagel company that had hired her consultancy team and how they’d helped analyze its strengths and weaknesses.
She shared the final (and remarkable) result that her team’s analysis had on the bagel company’s bottom line. It was a great story.
I was impressed. But I was also curious. Throughout the post, she didn’t ever share how she did this. Her consultancy acted as a black box.
Curious, I reached out to her. I let her know I enjoyed her post but would love to hear more about how her team accomplished this. She sent me a long, detailed message explaining exactly how they did it, with specific details and incredible insights. The information in that message was priceless.
Then I asked her, hopefully without sounding rude: “Why didn’t you include those details in your post?”
Her answer surprised me: “Don’t give away the cow if you want to sell the milk!”
This attitude is so prevalent among consultants. Help! But it’s actively holding them back from proper limitless growth. Let me tell you why.
You Aren’t Being Hired Because of Your Secret Strategies
Think about some common “secrets” in your work as a consultant or expert. I am sure you can think of a few off the top of your head.
But let me tell you, I am 100% sure none of them are secrets. Consultants who successfully use such secrets aren’t successful because they know them. Their success comes from implementing them well.
Consulting clients don’t hire you or your team because they think you have a proprietary blueprint that will solve all their problems. Ask yourself this: if you told a client exactly what your process is and what they needed to do, with step-by-step instructions, would they be able to do it as effectively as you, the expert?
Would they be able to do it at all? The answer is probably no. Honestly, most of what you do as a consultant isn’t a secret at all. Others have been doing similar/same things thousand times before. Million times. Heck. Don't fool yourself.
Even if you don’t recognize this, your clients do. They hire you because they believe you’re the best expert or the best expert team for the job. They think that you uniquely understand their business and their problems. They believe you will be able to enact the same strategies everyone uses to the best effect possible for them.
Recommended reading: Lead with your expertise, not with your consulting services
Those companies will be way more likely to hire you if you freely offer proof that you know what you’re talking about. Prospective clients can tell when you’re holding nothing back. This makes them trust you more.
I could sum up the entire article in those two sentences.
I’m always amazed by how many consultants fall into the scarcity mindset trap that holds them back from sharing.
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Share your 'secret sauce' to boost your online visibility
Ask yourself this: what piece of content will build more trust for your expertise on LinkedIn? A vague celebratory post about your recent 'weekend-in-the-forest' with the consulting team? Or a detailed case study sharing exactly what you did and, most importantly, what the results were, and the impact you had?
I can tell you from experience that not only does the latter get more eyeballs, but the people who see it are far more likely to contact you in the long run.
In this age of social media, online visibility matters. But it’s more than just posting every day on the right networks. It’s about using those channels to build trust and portray yourself as a true authority in the field.
Use any of these simple content ideas to improve your business’s growth:
- Think of a recent project. What did you do right? How did it work? What was the effect? This kind of referenceable case study is excellent at persuading companies of your expertise.
- Take a walk down memory lane. What was something you struggled with? How have you improved since then? What changed? You obviously don’t want to share your latest struggles, but sharing older weaknesses and demonstrating how you’ve changed is hugely compelling and humanizing.
- Look at your team. Who is a standout player? What do they do that makes them so invaluable? By putting one person’s face to your business’s name and sharing their individual strengths, you offer more insight into what makes your consultancy business unique.
Recommended reading: Business Development In Consulting Is Rooted In Educating Your Audience
I've also published my latest thoughts on the topic of 'sharing your expertise' on Linkedin. Here are those posts:
- "Luk, I don't have time to educate my audience".
- Struggling with developing your leading thoughts in your consultancy?
- 99% of consultants have nothing to say.
- Business development in consulting is (rather) easy.
- I've built a consulting business on the back of a blog.
- Key voices are absent in most consulting firms.
If you’re scared of sharing what goes on behind the curtain, you’re limiting your consulting growth unnecessarily. When you are open and unafraid to explain how you do what you do, you’ll quickly see the results as your consulting business will create new growth opportunities.
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Hello, I’m Luk Smeyers, and I’m helping mid-sized consultancies become high-performing consulting firms. I have been in the consulting businesses for more than 20 years, in very different roles: as European CHRO in a global consultancy, as a founder of a mid-sized analytics consultancy, and as a leader in a 'Big 4' consultancy, post-acquisition of my consultancy. I had the privilege of achieving global visibility as a consulting leader, and I never had to sell, persuade, or negotiate as a result. I have now bundled all those experiences, expertise, know-how, research, reading, successes, struggles, and failures from managing and advising consultancies in the past years.