Wes Schaeffer: Michael Zipursky, author of act now how successful consultants thrive during chaos and uncertainty, where have you been my whole life, man. Welcome to the show.
MZ: It was great to be with you. Thanks so much.
WS: I'm chaotic, man.
WS: I'm uncertain I'm certain my kids are going to get me out of house and home. Can you help me.
MZ: I don't know about that but but for the consultants out there that are dealing with all the uncertainty in the world right now.
MZ: That's what the book was written for right and it kind of the height of, I guess, April.
MZ: 2020 coven was very acute in people's minds and we want to put a book together and
MZ: Just share some of the best practices of what's working for us. And we've seen work with others. And so we interviewed
MZ: Six thought leaders in the space few like Rita McGrath and Perry Marshall and Marlin Sturm and john were low and Jill Conrad and others about you know what they were doing to navigate these challenging times. So the book is
MZ: About not only how to manage and survive uncertainty and chaos and not even just call it really just in general, we all run up against that but it's what can you actually thrive.
MZ: When there's a lot of chaos and uncertainty going on. So we share some of the best practices and principles and ideas people in that book.
WS: Well, I know, I know you did it with the experts because you didn't call me. So that's why I know it's a good book because you know if you call me. I said, Dude, you know, you lost your mind.
WS: But you were discerning
WS: So that's good. I like that. And I know Perry Marshall and Jill Conrad. She was a guest very early on. Who else do you say
MZ: Martin Lindstrom read them a graph John Warrillow.
MZ: Built to Sell.
MZ: I've got value builder system.
WS: Yep, yep, I got to his Yeah, his I remember his book, I got the audiobook.
MZ: For a customer.
WS: Built to sell and
WS: Man, I got probably seven years ago because I was still working out at Gold's Gym. So I kind of
WS: Have different ways to remember things and what Jim, I was working out, but I remember listening to that book over and over others to like three times. I think because I would listen to like double or triple speed.
WS: And I do a lot of books. I'll do triple speed and go back
WS: If they if they don't have an accent, right, if there's like British or, you know, Australia and I, I'll do like one and a half or 1.75 because you know miss a few things.
WS: But otherwise I'll do an audible at you. I got the three and it takes a little bit to get used to. But once you do. I mean, you can, you know, it's good. And I loved his model of it just boiling it down, for it was like a graphic designer. Right. That was his model.
MZ: Well, he used that to illustrate. Yeah.
MZ: I mean,
MZ: Yeah yeah previously was for consulting kind of research.
MZ: And bringing that to two organizations and then he exited that business and I was kind of the whole story of how and down or, or at least teaching those principles stuff. Yeah.
WS: Is it
WS: Can a consultant be that
WS: You know, I want to say cookie cutter. Right. I mean, but in a good way. I mean, can you be that prescriptive. And like look
WS: Here's our five-step model, we do not deviate from this five-step model, if you want to deviate from this five-step model, we will fire you. And we will still take all of your money yeah me can you be that prescriptive as he did in that book.
MZ: Yeah, definitely. It's a choice right so it's not going to be the right fit for everyone, but
MZ: What's nice. I mean, this is called a productize consulting model or, you know, progress consulting service.
MZ: And it's really about identifying where can you create the greatest value and results for people. And where do you see the biggest need and then decided to go all-in on that run as the exact opposite of
MZ: The typical solo independent or even firm model to a degree, where you're doing a high degree of customization.
MZ: But some people love this. I'm you'll really enjoy working very closely with our clients doing a lot of customization always creating something new.
MZ: And so for them, productization would not be the right fit. But if you're someone that wants to
MZ: To become a master in one specific area and put better systems and better processes in place to be able to build a team around that really be able to kind of step away from the day to day delivery.
MZ: Then productization is great because not only does it have high-profit margins, but it you know this, the saying is that complexity doesn't scale and productization is all about removing complexity and moving towards simplicity?
WS: Um, yeah. But Michael Look man, my business is different. I'm different. This industry is is different, these times are different. I need a different kind of consultant
MZ: Well, congratulations. Yeah, you know, everyone thinks they're different. So, so really, you're not that different, you know,
WS: What else
WS: So you're saying this prescriptive model can help even me in my because my business is different. And I'm different in the industry is different in the times are different.
MZ: Yeah, I think anyone that wants to, I mean, listen to the end of the day was and we all get to make choices and
MZ: The choice that we like to always look at is where can you create the greatest value have the most impact.
MZ: You know, really achieve results for people, but do it in a way that allows you to live your life. I think that's the big thing that I see often right and people that are building businesses they spend
MZ: A lot of time they put their business at the top, you know, if you imagine
MZ: A triangle, right, or a mountain top whatever the business goes to the top, and then they put their lifestyle at the bottom and now they have to change their lifestyle to support the business that they placed higher up.
MZ: And I'm a big believer that should be the other way around. You should put your lifestyle at the top get very clear about what's meaningful for you. What impact you want to have. How do you want to live life?
MZ: And then put the business below that instruction, the business that supports the lifestyle you want to have rather than the other way around.
WS: Yeah, I mean, that's what I've done. I am
WS: low stress.
WS: And some people thought I was crazy until coven hit. And I'm like, I didn't realize I was living a quarantine lifestyle. But, I mean, it's like we didn't miss a beat, you know, kids are homeschooled. I work from home, go train. It's all good.
WS: And yeah, and it's it's so funny because people want to, they want to call me and I want to talk first before
WS: I probably shouldn't say this, maybe I'll delete this but I gotta get it off my chest, man.
WS: Is this
MZ: Just saying, man.
WS: It's like they're talking. It's like you see in the movies when the psychologist, the psychiatrist or psychologist, you know, they had the person lay down haven't laid down and face away so they don't see them taking a nap.
WS: Because they're like, just get off your chest. Dude, I must say the same thing, right. Let me show you this. We sure that and like
WS: How your sales how your marketing. I'm gonna I'm gonna hit them with the same things that they can't answer. And that's why they need me.
WS: You know systems and processes and and you know multimedia multi-step, you know, how do you get their attention, but they feel like they got to get it off their chest so I just let them.
WS: You know, I'm like, Okay, now you're ready to start. Is there a way to shortcut that or do they just have to get it off their chest before they can start
MZ: There. Well, I don't know what your process looks like right now. But, you know, do you have an application that essentially asked those questions before they even jump on a call with you. Do you
MZ: You know, have them do oh yeah okay
WS: Oh yeah, I've, I've streamlined things a lot. But still, and it depends on the
WS: You know, are they buying software from me, or they they want me to help them with what they already have
WS: You know, I'll do sales training for a midsize company. So that's a little bit of a different conversation, but I still get all the info upfront, but you know before people spend a decent chunk of money.
WS: I mean, I get it. They want to talk a little bit. They want to make sure they're heard, you know, make sure you really understand my situation. It's like, I understand your situation, you're a human, who's having trouble selling to other humans. I got it.
WS: I need to feel heard,
WS: Because like when you give them. I assume you got this kind of question as well right kind of disqualify people if they don't want to play ball. You know, so you don't get in there blind and
WS: But I mean, they still want to talk through it right
MZ: Oh yeah, when, if they're buying a pair of socks from you would be different but
MZ: Right listening, uh, you know, I'm assuming a significant amount of money. It's a big investment that they want to make sure that
MZ: There isn't be the right fit for them. And as he said that that's human nature. There's things that we can all do.
MZ: To try and make that process more efficient, whether it's an application or even before that.
MZ: You know the different type of content and ideas that you put out
MZ: To help people to essentially attract the right kind of people and to push away the kinds of people that you don't want to come into your world.
MZ: And the time between when they when somebody fills an application and actually jumps on a call with you. What information are they seeing, you know, during that period of time? So,
MZ: There's things you can do. But as he said the end of the day, it is human nature. And when people are making investments.
MZ: Like most people, you know, they don't. You don't throw money around. You want to make sure you're working with someone that you don't only feel can get the job done, but also
MZ: Will get the job done in a way that is going to work for you in terms of culture and how you communicate and how you respond so that'll make sense to me. But I think there are ways to make that process a bit more efficient overall for people
WS: So what are you seeing now in this coven
WS: Our businesses more open to consulting, are they trying to hold on to their money do they realize they need to be smart with their money and maybe now they are getting bring in a consultant for the first time ever.
MZ: Yeah, I mean, consulting is definitely growing
MZ: You know, it's been growing kind of year over year, even before call with but what's happening right now is many organizations that used to believe
MZ: Or had this kind of mindset. We want to build our in house team. We want to be under one roof. It's important for sharing of ideas, all that kind of stuff that's been blown out of the water right now because you can't in many places physically be in the same place.
MZ: And so now when a lot of organizations are looking at
MZ: You know, we've had to let go of some team members or we need to find ways to increase our margin and profitability and how can we just be more efficient, more effective.
MZ: And the question is, Will is a full-time person is that our most kind of the best
MZ: Investment that we can make. And oftentimes that actually creates more risk. Right. You have to commit to a full-time salary, there's
MZ: Benefits and insurance and all those other kinds of things. So it's a bigger decision. Whereas, and it's also time to find that person right hire that person train that person.
MZ: But if you can just find an expert that can come in and hit the ground running right away, get the job done for typically less than it would cost to have a full-time employee then for a lot of organizations, they're they're open to that right. Previously, the one
MZ: Kind of challenge they had in their mind was the habit, it's important for us to be under one roof. Well, now that's not the case anymore and so
MZ: We're seeing with our clients that are in many different industries all around the world.
MZ: That there's plenty of opportunities, doesn't mean that there's, there aren't some challenging situations or certain industries that have been more heavily impacted. But overall,
MZ: There's a lot of opportunities out there for people who are willing to, you know, to get out there and have conversations and we can talk more about what what's involved in that, but
MZ: There's certainly a lot of opportunities for consultants and experts and advisors coaches people that want to
MZ: To help solve problems are not more value for for others because one thing is very clear that's with COVID people had our all of our ideal clients had problems before COVID.
MZ: Now the cobras here. It doesn't mean that those problems went away. If anything, they have more problems than before. Right. And so there's if you can step up if you can add value for people, then there's plenty of opportunity.
WS: How are you reaching them now because I've had some conversations.
WS: You know, it's interesting. In my my weekly sales training group you know guys saying, Heather. I'm not getting good engagement on my emails. I don't know if he knows working right now.
WS: I don't have his email. He just didn't bad emails. Right, right, cuz guess I just had on before you use on about, you know, emails, doing better.
WS: But you just have to send better emails right video emails you gotta, you gotta spruce things up and whatnot but
WS: Maybe actually pick up the phone now.
WS: Because you people are more open to having a conversation because they're so isolated.
WS: But an interesting one thing that did come up in my, in my call today with my group was it yesterday, since some direct mail, you know, spice things up. He's like, they're all working from home. I don't have their home addresses like Oh damn, that's a good question.
WS: So what do you like
WS: How are you seeing like what's working to actually reach people now.
MZ: Yeah I mean it's actually quite similar to before it's a multi-channel approach. So it's not just email is not just LinkedIn, it's not
MZ: Just direct mail or just podcast. It's getting in front of people in multiple different ways in different formats.
MZ: So it might be, it might start off with the connection on LinkedIn.
MZ: And then after that it might be an email, textphone call, sending video email messages. I think the big thing more than ever before the West is moving away from just simply automation and more to apply as much personalization as you can.
MZ: Because today, everyone's inundated with messages from people who clearly don't know how to sell because
MZ: I mean, really, what they're doing is they're selling but with no focus on value right there. We're all getting killed with messages on LinkedIn and email from people who just say, Hey, here's what I have. You want to buy that you can tell there's no genuine
MZ: Interest. They haven't taken any time to research, who you are, and what you might be interested in or what you need help with. And so because of that.
MZ: The P most you are have put up their guard. They're not open to receiving the message. They don't spend a lot of time, which means that to stand out. You have to, you have to do things differently, which
MZ: Can be right. As an example, sending an audio message and LinkedIn like you have them all about the mobile app on LinkedIn.
MZ: You can actually send an audio message. I don't even know that that's one way to stand out.
MZ: Another thing you can do is send video messages with loom or BombBomb or Bonjoro. They're all great tools that allow you to send video kind of email messages to people.
MZ: Right, you can just send an actual email that shows that you've done a little bit of research into who they are and you're actually a real person. And you're sending that message to them and not to 10,000 other people at the same time.
MZ: So a lot of this stuff doesn't necessarily scale, although you can make it more scalable because not everything has to be 100% personalized, you can
MZ: send out an email to 10 people or 100 people and still make it appear very personalized but it's that appearance that perception that you truly care that you want to add value.
MZ: And that you're different than everything else that they're getting. That's what we're seeing works really well.
WS: Yeah, I've been banging that drum for a couple of years now to what doesn't scale. I mean, my LinkedIn inbox. Oh my gosh, it's so full of junk in my regular inbox just chunk. I'm like man do I'll put any effort into this
MZ: And mono dot
MZ: Because it's is that for right everyone looking for, what, what's the, what's the hack, right, what's the shortcut. What can I do to
MZ: To just get out there and if I get out in front of more people. I mean, they should have, you should be able to reach more and have more impact and
MZ: You'll see greater results, but it's the exact opposite right it's getting really clear on who really is your ideal client and then trying to tailor your message to them and get it to the point where you can, you know, have it resonate with them so they want to, to speak with you.
WS: But everybody was sold the funnel hacking
WS: The easy button. Oh my gosh.
WS: So when you have clients around the world. Right.
WS: Is it different doing business. I mean, you're in Canada. Do people in the States. Do they care where you're from, or is it, you know, as long as you're scratching the itch. They're like, Come on.
MZ: Yeah, I mean, we have clients literally in every, every continent, you know, not Antarctica, of course, but we have clients all different places there in all different industries.
MZ: That the big thing is, you know, they're not, they're there, they're reaching out to us, not because they're looking for help with their area of expertise. So as an example, let's say that a client is in pharmaceutical
MZ: You know, drug development or distribution or they're in branding or they're in
MZ: Marketing to two women or they're in food and beverage. They're not coming to us for help in getting better in those specific industries because they already have the expertise.
MZ: What they're looking for is support on how do I grow my consulting business. How do I
MZ: Increase my fees. How do I grow and scale with a team in a more efficient way where I can still have a lifestyle and not fear feel overwhelmed or how do I take
MZ: All my years of experience and actually start to package in position in place value on it.
MZ: In a way that will resonate and be a good fit for what I'm looking for. So it's really the business side of consulting
MZ: That we help people with. And so that's applicable. Doesn't matter where you know what industry you're in, or where you're from. Of course, there may be some nuances based on your culture. But overall,
MZ: The, the framework and the process is the same. And it's what we've been working first in our own consulting businesses for the last 20 years but 11 of those years now has been helping consultants to grow their businesses as well.
WS: Gotcha. How, how do you help consultants, how do they determine their pricing, right, because I know in the beginning, most people they underpriced their services.
WS: You know how...
WS: How do you help them determine their worth
WS: And believe it?
WS: Because there's one thing. Yeah, I'm worth $1,000 an hour. All right, I gotta go sell their
WS: Their trip, they're
MZ: Definitely. I mean, so it comes down to the value right and the value is
MZ: Is connected to the value that your ideal client the future client the buyer sees and the way that you identify that value is through having a really meaningful conversation with them.
MZ: Because you can't just say, Here's what the value is if they don't agree and see that value as well. And so it comes down to a series of questions that
MZ: That can help you to identify the value, but then to be able to communicate that value.
MZ: To that buyer and you know actually I was running a boot camp live virtual boot camp last week over three days with people and we talked about this idea of how to actually achieve
MZ: greater value in higher fees and maximize the value of every project you take on. And one of the questions that came up
MZ: Was well yeah I mean it's easy to quantify value when you're saying you're going to help people to increase their revenue or to reduce costs and those it
MZ: Through through asking the right questions. It's pretty easy to figure out what you know what the impact from a revenue.
MZ: Perspective or cost decrease perspective that you can go, Okay, this is going to achieve an extra million dollars for you over the next 12 months or whatever it might be.
MZ: I'm going to charge $100,000 I'm going to charge $200,000
MZ: You know, give you a five or 10 X return on your investment. That makes sense. A lot of people. But what if you're an industry.
MZ: Where it's not as clear right it's as just putting a number or $1 sign on, that's a big question often comes up.
MZ: And what we went through is a bit of an exercise that shows people that you can always actually identify something more tangible
MZ: It's just, it comes down to asking the right questions and we can go into that if you'd like, but
MZ: Really, it's about identifying the value that your ideal client cares about and then making sure that you're on the same page with them and then
MZ: The final part of that is structuring your compensation in a way that still provides a great return on investment for your client.
MZ: But that they see in really, you know, engaging you as an investment.
MZ: Not as an expense and you can only do that if you've asked the right questions and done kind of gone through the right positioning. So they see you as an expert and they see the work that you're going to do.
MZ: It's going to put them in a better place than where they are today. Otherwise, if you're charging on an hourly basis or as a project basis and you just talking about the work, then you're a commodity.
MZ: And then you're the same as everyone else. But if you can have that conversation really identified the value of that communicated to them, then they see you as being different. They're excited. Maybe their hands shaking when they pass to that check but you know there
MZ: And these days, of course, not many checks going around but really you know they're excited because they know they're going to be in a better place going forward. It's an investment.
WS: And do you know what somebody's getting new end of this before they're really known
WS: And and how big long track record because me usually somebody is good at what they do in a field by the name become a consultant in that field.
WS: So I could have been a great IT person you know for 20 years you know leading big infrastructures and baba blah but now I'm a consultant, right, maybe I was making $100,000 as a top notch employee.
WS: But now,
WS: You know, I need to go make $200,000
WS: You know gross to make it worth my while to be out on my own.
WS: How did they get those initial customers, right, and should they go for like a like a one-year consultation or, you know, get some early wins, like on a 90 day you know basis or how do they, how do they get started.
MZ: Yeah, it's a great question. West and there's no one answer, because it really depends on everyone's situation. I mean, I can tell you that
MZ: I typically don't recommend that people go off and get a big, you know, one year contract with one client that heats up all their time because
MZ: Then they're not a business owner there, they can call themselves a consultant, they're doing consulting, but they're not a consulting business owner
WS: I just created jobs.
MZ: Exactly. And that might work. Well, it might be great income for them for a period of one year if all goes well, but then when that finishes and now they have to restart all their efforts to try and get new clients.
MZ: But oftentimes, it doesn't go as well as they'd hoped and now they're unexpectedly, you know, without any income coming in and so diversification.
MZ: Is really important. It's the lesson that I wish I would have learned when I first started 20 years ago because I certainly kind of made that mistake of putting too many eggs into one basket.
MZ: But in terms of how you go about getting clients. I mean that's a big subject and
MZ: The first thing to do would be to look at the low hanging fruit around you. So who do you know or, who do you know that can connect you to different people.
MZ: The other is what can you do to demonstrate your expertise to demonstrate how you can help people and
MZ: That comes through developing intellectual property content. So it could be videos, articles, a podcast.
MZ: All kinds of different things that essentially sells for you without you having to sell.
MZ: And that's a longer-term play but you take that and then you layer it on top of doing direct outreach, which is getting in front of your ideal clients and then making sure you're following up consistently with them.
MZ: Then that's how you build a pipeline, right, you get very clear on who your ideal client is and then you find every way that you can to get in front of those people with the focus of
MZ: Serving and adding value and you keep doing that you keep checking in at some point right as long as you're hitting the right mark with your message and what it is that they need, even if they don't need it, this exact moment.
MZ: A small percentage of those people and you given time will need what you have to offer.
MZ: And as you keep building your pipeline, you're going to have a higher overall number of people, even if the percentage remains the same.
MZ: That then need what you have, where most people fall down is they stopped the follow up right they stopped getting in front of people and so they're always having a kind of restart and look for the new people and say, oh this doesn't work.
MZ: But it's just because they haven't continue to work it.
MZ: So that's what I would say to people is, you know, start with low hanging fruit. Look at where you can get in, even if that means if you're just getting started.
MZ: You have to do something at, you know, for less money than what you would initially like to, but that's okay because you're going to build up a great case study, a great testimonial.
MZ: And if you do great work you built a tip typically get more work with that same client.
MZ: Or you can take that work you've done, turn it into that case study and I leverage it to go off and get more clients using that case study in that one client, even if they are paying you less than you'd like you'll be able to leverage that and create a lot more income from that.
WS: I love all that I agree.
WS: You got this. This IT person right
WS: 10 years 20 years
WS: They were an employee.
WS: And they were great at it.
WS: Yep. And now you're telling me, Oh my gosh.
WS: I need to create IP. I need to. I need to make a YouTube video. What I gotta send emails letters gotta leave a voicemail. Oh no, man. I'm a, I'm an IT guy I speak hexadecimal.
WS: I don't know if I can do this.
MZ: Yep. Well, so I'm not saying have to create a YouTube video. Just, just to put that on the record, but, you know. So first, so we have a lot of clients who have a technical background who consider themselves to be introverts, you know, the idea of marketing selling is very
MZ: uncomfortable for them. So I totally get that I empathize with that.
MZ: But here's the there's a couple of things with this number one you might be able to track the transition from your current employer to actually become your first client.
MZ: And so that could be a good starting point. The other is, you might have a network of people who you can tap into. Tell them what you're going to do and just simply by announcing that you're making the shift.
MZ: And just, you know, letting people know what you're doing. Even with your close inner circle that might also lead to some opportunities, but at the end of the day, I mean, even if your business.
MZ: Starts off quite well, just from some referrals, because we've seen this over the years, hundreds and hundreds of people that
MZ: At some point, you're going to kind of reach a level where you recognize that relying on referrals in your network is not enough to grow your business to that next level.
MZ: And that's where marketing kicks in. And so that's why the sooner you start marketing, the sooner you start putting a system and process in place.
MZ: The better off you're going to be because really what you're doing is planting seeds. Right. So what an apple tree takes on Office three, four or five years to start bearing, you know, edible fruit.
MZ: But once you once it does it's you know it's good for a lifetime or many years to come. But you got to plant those seeds. You got to take care of them.
MZ: So back to the—you know—the technical person or the person that doesn't feel necessarily comfortable
MZ: You got to get over it. Right, you have to recognize that if you're getting into business, which is what we're talking about. I'm not talking about just being
MZ: A console. I mean, if you wanted to do technical work all day long. And the idea of
MZ: The idea of doing any marketing or content creation or running a business if that's definitely not what you want to do. Cool, right, don't, don't do it. There's agencies, there's different
MZ: Companies that essentially can just provide you work and what they're going to do is they're going to give you $150 an hour $100 an hour, whatever it is they're going to take the 303 50 that they're charging
MZ: And, you know, you're gonna get lots of work, you're trading time for dollars.
MZ: But if you enjoy doing the work great. If you want to be a business owner, you don't have an income ceiling where you truly have control over your schedule you have more freedom more flexibility.
MZ: The ability to build wealth, the ability to choose your clients to a higher degree.
MZ: All those benefits right come with actually becoming a business owner. And so you have to make some sacrifices, you have to push yourself beyond
MZ: Where you might be comfortable just recognize that's okay. If you're not comfortable because most of us aren't comfortable when we have to do new things.
MZ: But the only way that we accomplished what we truly want in life is typically
MZ: Going kind of pushing past and doing the things that we're not comfortable or doing the things we've never done before, but it becomes easier, right, as we all know, once we do something we try it. We figured out, and then we look back and go, I'm glad that I did that.
WS: For sure. I mean, we always regret the things we didn't do
WS: Rather than the things that we did, yeah. I love that. I mean, commit to being a business owner, you know, I'm just a consultant know you're a business owner
WS: It may be just you, but you got to figure out, you know how
WS: How do we know if we're hiring you know a good marketing firm because I always tell people, you know, your number one job is a business owners to market yourself.
WS: You know, because nobody's going to do it like you do it. Nobody's going to care about your business the way you care about it.
WS: You know, and then you go and outsource it and somebody just mailed it in. But then you just spend a lot of money and waste a lot of time on this mediocre company. I mean,
WS: How do you know if you've picked a good marketing firm to help
MZ: Yeah, that's great question so
MZ: What we typically recommend to clients is, it depends on what stage you're at in your business. If you're early in kind of the marketing stage. So, you know, if you've been a consultant for many years and you have a business that's that's viable or profitable.
MZ: If you're new to marketing. It's important that you start doing that marketing yourself and not just kind of farm it out to somebody else. And the reason for that is, you know, as you said was that the you know the industry, the business.
MZ: You know, the potential. You know, all kinds of intricacies of that of the marketplace better than any firm that you're going to hire and in most cases.
MZ: But the other part of it is you want to be the person that receives that feedback, right when you put marketing is essentially
MZ: A way to get feedback from the marketplace right you learn when you take action, whether or not what you're doing works and if it works fantastic, but if it doesn't
MZ: Then that's also good for you to know. So you're now one step closer to essentially you've eliminated sign that doesn't work. You're not closer to you're hitting on what what what does work.
MZ: And if you just farm that out to somebody else, you lose that whole chain of feedback, right. You don't capture that and so therefore you can't get better. This is why
MZ: We see so many people who just farm out there, marketing, two different firms retinue to quickly.
MZ: It takes a long time to start getting results and it's understandable because for the marketing firm they essentially have to learn
MZ: Your business. They have to learn your industry, they don't have that inside knowledge that you do and so they have to try and really figure out your messaging.
MZ: And all that kind of stuff. But if you can figure that out first, which will be typically recommend get a good foundation in place first in your business. And then once you have that, and you figured okay this thing works really well this doesn't work, then you can go. Okay.
MZ: Now I have a good understanding. Now I'm going to figure out who I can actually bring in to help me to scale, you know, to, to leverage to create
MZ: More opportunities. And so you might find okay I don't actually need to hire a full firm. What I need is somebody to help me to amplify some social media.
MZ: Or you know what I know I need to put out content, but I'm just a really terrible writer and it takes me too long.
MZ: I'm going to sit down with a writer and I'm going to help them to give them a high-level outline of what I'm looking for.
MZ: You know, share my tone of my voice and then they're going to go off and write the articles for me. So you find these different points of leverage
MZ: Because what you want to be doing as a business owner is not in the weeds doing things that drag you down.
MZ: That you don't enjoy it. You want to be focusing on where you create the highest value. And so, step by step, you can figure out how to build
MZ: Either whether it's one person part-time contractors freelancers or becomes more full time how you can essentially take all the different things that are going to help you to grow the you've identified our is what works.
MZ: And then lean into getting killed to help you to grow that even faster so you can focus on the other areas of your business that are even higher value. Yeah.
WS: Yeah, and it's, you know, don't feel bad if you don't like marketing it's like what do you think is that I like marketing. Other people better than me. I mean, it's the typical, you know, Carpenter with the creaky deck. You know, it's
WS: I just brought someone on to help me because it's like I'm tired. I don't wanna. I don't want to my own horn go help
MZ: But there's also just to say, people can find
MZ: Ways of marketing that are comfortable for them. So one example of this. And we've helped some clients with it is to actually create their own podcast. So we had a client in the nonprofit space that doesn't like board governance and works with with
MZ: universities and hospitals and other types of nonprofits.
MZ: And he went off and you start a podcast. Now the great thing about a podcast is even if you don't like necessarily to your own horn and go marketing and doing sales.
MZ: Well, here are the podcast. You want to invite your ideal clients to come on as guests.
MZ: Most of them are going to say yes, because everyone has, you know, an ego and they like to be featured and have their, their brand and their work being featured. And so now you're face to face or, you know, zoom, zoom
MZ: screen to screen right having a conversation with an ideal client.
MZ: And you're not doing it from a place of selling you're doing from a place of adding value and shine a spotlight on them, which obviously they appreciate
MZ: But there's gonna be a natural transition after that interview where they say hey, so tell me more about what you do. And so this client of ours who did this.
MZ: He went off and I think he did seven interviews before he even launched his podcast, you had seven interviews and five of those interviews turn into clients for him.
MZ: So if you just enjoy talking with ideal clients right a podcast can be a great thing for you. Or maybe it's a webinar. Maybe it's doing some
MZ: Little roundtables or maybe it's writing articles or maybe it's doing videos, there's no one way to do things. It's about finding, you know, what are your strengths and as long as that it can work for your audience, then lean into it and do more of that.
WS: Yeah. Amen. I mean, do what you love, especially if you're good at it, it'll
WS: It'll, it'll come out in the wash.
WS: For sure. So do you you help them with contracts and stuff because I've over 1213 years I've, I've gone from very super-duper complex statements of work, followed by the actual service agreement and now it's like I got a very good template.
WS: It's it's several pages, but most of its the template and you know I'm writing one or two new pages bullets same layout super quick.
WS: You know, do you
WS: Don't need to cover my butt, better, more complex contracts or is simply better
MZ: I we definitely prefer simple we help our clients and we have a whole training around proposals and we give them templates and all that kind of stuff that has worked really well for us and hundreds of other
MZ: Clients that we've worked with over the years. But again, we're not lawyers, right, we're not, we can't provide legal advice or financial advice.
MZ: So we just we show what works. We give them best practices and then we do reviews and critiques and discuss
MZ: Proposals and opportunities with clients to help them to maximize the value of the projects and to make them more successful, but there are certain industries in certain situations that are different, you know, you work with
MZ: For example, public organizations, a government will, in most cases, not all, but you're gonna have to go through an RFP process and you're going to have to one of our clients is in that space and
MZ: They have a full-time person on their team that just simply their, their only job is doing RFP. Right. There's just send me an RFP is all day long.
MZ: But it works for them. So everyone's different. We have other clients that go in with literally a one page kind of agreement and that's all I need to sign you know 50 to $300,000 engagements and they're good, but
MZ: Sup certain organizations, you're going to have to go through from a proposal to a statement of work right to making sure that you're an approved vendor and going through procurement.
MZ: So there's no one size fits all. But there are some guidelines and best practices that can help people to, you know, to just increase their chances of success.
WS: When do you know it's not working and how do you
WS: ended early
MZ: When what's not working.
WS: Let's say it's just not a good fit something comes up. Maybe the clients a jerk, maybe, maybe you misunderstood the need, like, whoa, this is like
WS: I got a client right now. They brought me on to help them with Infusionsoft. Mm-hmm. You know, and boom, boom. You know, I just did a 30 day. I love this thing. I'm like what I'm seeing my part, I'm done in a month, but it was relying on other people.
WS: Right now we're three months later.
WS: And we don't the end it but I'm like look dude, you're now plugging in like three other tools and custom coatings. Like, I don't do that. I've got people that do that, but
WS: You know, it's like this thing is really dragging on and so
WS: So kind of to two questions. Right. How do you avoid scope creep? And then how do you, how do you just get out of an agreement was like, look, this is just not a fit, maybe they're just jerks. Maybe the business change. Maybe you signed it in January and covert hit March, you're like,
WS: Dude, I feel bad sticking around like because things have changed. And I'm not the best person for this situation. Yeah.
MZ: I mean, it's always the best deals. This before happens right
MZ: If it happens right you got to deal with it. And I think that really comes down to the individual choice of, you know, what's your relationship with that person.
MZ: And are they truly toxic in terms of, you know, are they pulling you down.
MZ: And is that that energy that you can't, you know, you don't have to grow your own business or you can't serve other clients because you spend so much time on this, on this project. And so again, case by case situation.
MZ: We're very focused on relationships and adding value and thinking long term and not, you know, looking at every
MZ: Interaction with a client as a true relationship as you know a family or close kind of friend, rather than a short term transaction.
MZ: But what we've always done work best is to deal with this as much as possible before it happens. And the way to do that is to set very clear expectations.
MZ: Right, what most people find is they don't actually have that conversation with the client, whether it's before the project, like in the agreement or
MZ: Even another really great place to do it or to reinforce it is after the agreement has been signed and you're starting work. It's like that onboarding that that whole kickoff call or kind of kick-off period.
MZ: Is to make sure that you clearly go through and say, Hey, here's what we get, you know, what we do. Here's what we don't do if this kind of thing happens just like this is how we would handle it.
MZ: But we stay within these lines if anything goes outside of these lines then here's how we're going to have to, you know, like
MZ: Handle it whether it's increased fees or we just can't do that. And so it's very clear it's documented and this is the most important part West, which is the moment that scope creep or anything like that rears its head.
MZ: That you have to jump in and deal with it. You can't hope that it's going to get better, right, the kind of
MZ: The metaphor. The imagery often share with clients is imagine you know with kids, your kid jumpstart jumping on your sofa and you know they're pulling the curtains and doing all kinds of crazy stuff which my daughter's love doing.
MZ: But then if you don't say anything to them, then the next day. Let's say they're doing it again. And now you get upset. You say, hey, stop that. What are you doing, why jumping around a lot. Why are you pulling that you're looking say well, Daddy.
MZ: You didn't I was doing yesterday. He didn't tell me what it was that was wrong. Right. And so now it's very hard for them to understand. So it's the same with clients the clients are like children.
MZ: If you don't teach them what is acceptable and what isn't like you know what the essentially the
MZ: The, the guidelines or the framework for working together. If you don't establish that early on, it's very hard to backtrack.
MZ: Because they'll say he will hey you know you didn't tell us that we can't do this thing, or we did that before you didn't say anything. So we thought it was okay.
MZ: And it becomes awkward. Whereas if yours very clear, even though it might sound.
MZ: at the early stage a little bit too controlling or a bit too negative or be concerned. What if the client doesn't like that and they want to stop or you know something consultants often creative professionals create all these concerns.
MZ: They play all these potential, you know, potential that might happen in their mind, but most often of them happen. You do that early on, though. Now the client has a much better understanding. They actually appreciate and respect that you have
MZ: A way of operating, you have a system you have a process that tells them that you've done it before because you said hey you know we don't do that stuff because
MZ: People don't you know you won't get great results or takes us off the project. We won't focus on the core thing. So if that ever happens we're going to let you know, want to bring it right back to the main folks you do all that ahead of time.
MZ: And then if it rears its head, then you can jump into hey you know what. Remember we talked on that day on the kickoff and went through and we said if that kind of thing happens. Well,
MZ: It seems like it's starting to happen. So it's really important to stay focused and now the time goes, Oh yeah, you're right. Thanks for reminding me. Or at least understand. Whereas if you don't
MZ: Address it and kind of goes unchecked, it becomes a much more kind of convoluted and challenging conversation how
WS: Are they listening in the beginning, or is it. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Yes, you're fine. Let's go, let's go. Let's get to work. I mean, I guess, as long as you've documented it, it's good.
MZ: Yeah, you have to document that you have to have it in written form you can review together, whether you're reviewing on a zoom call or in person going through it each party's provided with it afterwards as well.
MZ: But I mean, you know, this is the job of the professional is that if you have a sense that
MZ: Your client is not listening, they're not paying attention, they're checking their phone, or they just kind of, you know, not clear, you listen. You got to pull them in. There's a reason why they hired
MZ: It's because they see you as the expert. The advisor, the person you know they're trusting in you.
MZ: If you just let them off the hook. If you don't provide that guidance. If you just kind of back off and go, yeah, one of the business. I don't want to rock the boat now.
MZ: They're going to lose respect for you right it's there. They're looking to you because of the guidance and the leadership that you've brought to that point. Don't let up just because they become a client.
MZ: You have to keep bringing up over and over again clients respect that. Right. I mean, I've seen every CEO every senior executive I've ever worked with.
MZ: When, when I have a hard kind of a direct conversation or I remind them both things are keep following up with them, they'll always say thank you so much for sharing that with me because you got to keep in mind. Most executives.
MZ: Have people around them all day long, that to say yes. Right. They don't want to rock the boat and so
MZ: For you to be direct and honest in a way that shows you know of course in a friendly way but shows that you care and the value that relationship and you really are committed to, to the best outcome for them.
MZ: They appreciate that because they see you as appear. They don't see you as some commodity, you know, person, they're just doing the work for them and they respect that and that's where you can build a strong relationship on. Yeah.
WS: How do you give them the bad news.
WS: Right, like right now.
WS: You know, it's a this same client. It's like
WS: He's got bad people, you know, or you didn't have bad people. He's got
WS: He's got the wrong people in the wrong position or there's too much on their plates.
WS: And that's why a two-week project has scaled up in three months later.
WS: We're still tweaking things
WS: You know, so how do you break that too. I mean, really, at this point, he kind of knows, but I'm still. I'm like, Dude, you gotta chop this up a little bit and I'm going to start angling to just take it over. You know, so, like, just give us the whole thing.
WS: Because it's just it's painful.
MZ: Yeah, I think the most important things when you have that conversation and you want to have it as soon as possible.
MZ: But also to try and put yourself in their shoes and do it from a place of caring and service rather than from a place of
MZ: You know, hey, your team sucks and things aren't getting done. And this is why we can't do our job because you know you guys are doing the wrong thing. It's, it's not about who's right or wrong, it's
WS: Here's what
MZ: Here's what we're seeing. I'm not sure if you've been feeling this at all. But this is kind of what we're still we're seeing, we're really committed
MZ: To helping you ensure that you get the result that you came to us for the problem is that right now or one thing that we're finding challenging is that every time I try and take a step forward we're getting pulled back because of these other things.
MZ: If we continue going this path. I think it's going to take an extra three months. That's going to end up costing you
MZ: A lot more money. But I don't think that you need to spend more money and instead. Here's what I see and what I suggest
MZ: We need to do these things, these three things. And if we do them. It'll help in these ways. What do you think about that?
MZ: Right. So you bring kind of get collaborative with them, you try and create a solution together that is in their best interest. And now they appreciate you bringing that us. They're not even viewing that as
MZ: You know, as you being right and then being wrong. It's just, okay,
MZ: This person is a trusted advisor. They see an issue.
MZ: They're out there looking out for my best interest. They've told me that they could charge me more. If we keep doing things the way that we're doing them right now, but they don't want to charge me more.
MZ: Right. They actually want to try and get me a resolution faster and save me money. Well I you know I really appreciate that. So that's the kind of positioning and dynamic that really works well in most cases.
WS: Windy if you've got him on this.
WS: You know 90-day agreement, right. So I'm landing. My first couple of gigs. I'm making some money, you know, maybe I'll make it on my own. Got a good client good project.
WS: Man, I'd sure like them to renew for another 90 days you know when, when do you start having that conversation.
MZ: So, I mean, you have that conversation before you even start the first project and in the sense that you want to plant the seed of
MZ: Of what your typical engagement look like and how you how you're able to get the best results for your clients.
MZ: So it's not. Hey, we're going to come in through like three months. Nine days and then and then we're gone. You know, hope, hope that you can figure out how to swim by yourself.
MZ: It's. Let's start with, you know, we typically with most engaging with our clients they see the best results when we come in.
MZ: And we work this process go through this system together for 90 days at that point. Here's all the different things, you'll have in place and you can decide to kind of go off and just continue going
MZ: You know yourself with your internal team or what many of our clients.
MZ: Like to have is then once we have these first, you know, three things done, or whatever it is, then we can work on on the next
MZ: And just kind of keep building together that's that's optional. So right now, where it's really talking about the first 90 days and we can have that conversation, you know about ongoing work.
MZ: As we, you know, as we move through the project and see what's going to be most need for your, you know, what would be most helpful. So you plant that seed early on.
MZ: But then the other thing that's really helpful, especially when you have projects that are
MZ: Kind of a monthly ongoing basis is to make sure you're reviewing with the client constantly. So let's say you're doing a monthly review which would, you know, which would be good if not more often.
MZ: There's three things that I always like to cover the kind of three parts to a client meeting or to review. So the first is past.
MZ: Then the second is present. Third is the future. So in each meeting. What you want to cover as okay here's what we've completed for you. Here's what, here's what we've accomplished.
MZ: And that because that's really valuable because for a client, they go okay yeah the investment that I made into this person into this company has been justified because look what we've accomplished makes them feel good about that investment.
MZ: And the second thing is the present. So here's what we're currently working on for you and that now again justifies them makes them feel good, but you're still providing value you're doing things right now.
MZ: And that's, you know, kind of getting them up to speed. And then the third is, here's what we're going to do next. So now you're planting the seed of what's going to come down the road gets them already thinking about
MZ: You know, and preparing their mind to make that next invest
MZ: Because they can see that there's greater potential right most people will continue investing in something as long as they see they're going to get more value from it and they believe, there'll be a greater benefit to them.
MZ: But if you just wait until everything's done and then you almost have to, like, you know, restart the engine to try and get more momentum. But if you have that kind of review or you're covering those three stages. At each
MZ: Kind of step, then that momentum is just going through it and becomes a very natural transition where the client is re talking about what they want to be doing in month four or five and six. You know, even when you're still in month two or three
WS: And is this like a weekly review may settle on a 90 day. It's like, man, you want to make sure you're staying on top of things, but you also like if I'm, if I'm the boss. Right. It's like, man, I just want stuff done.
MZ: You know, I hated me depends on
MZ: It depends on the client. Right, so
MZ: Depends on you, your client, the type of work that you're doing. I mean, we typically would see this being done every two to four weeks.
MZ: But it also is again how intense is the project. Are there a lot of moving parts is a weekly review, maybe more necessary and then if it is that, then great. I mean,
MZ: Really, if you look at this and break it down. There's some organizations that do this on a daily basis, right, they're talking about like the daily kind of standing huddle.
MZ: You know, each morning you get together and you talk about, okay, what do you guys get done yesterday. What are you doing today, any challenge and you want to share. It's the same concept.
MZ: But you're taking that and you're making a little bit more formalized to kind of go over past, present and future. And it can be as simple as a one page. Like when I
MZ: You know with clients when I was working on a retainer basis, a lot of consulting clients and we were meeting in person. I would bring a one-page sheet sometimes two pages and it would just be broken down in bullet points, past, present, future
MZ: And I was using that to kind of walk through the client and we'll walk them through what we've accomplished what we're currently working on and what we're gonna be doing next. And I mean that worked very well to have long term clients that stayed engaged for many years.
WS: How does somebody keep from being just
WS: Like it, it's easy to go into how to be a consultant and then before you know it, your, your elbow deep into this thing and you're back in your old role as an IT person.
WS: Is it just self discipline like hey trust the process, you know, tell them what to do. Tell them how to do it. Don't go do it.
MZ: No, I think it really starts with being very intentional about what is your business model. And, you know, what are you delivering
MZ: It's, it's, you're right, it's very easy for people to just get back into doing all the delivery themselves or to recreate their job just under their own you know their new bosses them and that's that's really all it's changed.
MZ: A few other things like the as well. But it's about being very intentional, like, what, what is the business model that you want to have right if you're
MZ: If your focus is going in and doing all the work. And you're doing all the selling you're doing all the marketing, you're doing all the conversations you're saying I'm going to do this. I knew that.
MZ: Well, then, of course, your clients are going to expect you to do everything. And now you know that that's
MZ: That's the kind of the challenge are going to be in. But if you set it up from the beginning Mirabelle the brand and you also introduce your team members.
MZ: Or you have a team. Early on, then, then you don't have to be doing everything yourself. I mean, look at
MZ: Take, take any large consulting firm out there whether you know it's Accenture Deloitte McKinsey, the CEOs of those organizations are not doing the delivery, right, there's no way
MZ: Maybe when they first started, they did. But over time, what they did is they put systems and processes in place right they created structure. They then delegated different aspects, they brought more people on
MZ: Or they put better systems and this doesn't matter. You know this is applicable, whether you're a company of two or three people, or two, or 300 people or more
MZ: But it's about looking at how do you want to grow your business. And again, what is the business model that works for you. Some people want to do all the delivery and that's fine.
MZ: But other people want to shift to working more on strategy more on vision more on, you know, the business and the growth
MZ: And if, if that's what you want to be doing. You can't be doing delivery all day. And so you need to make that shift and need to be very intentional about it, but you can't
MZ: dabble. You can't go yeah I want to do that. But then, oh, this person really wants me
MZ: And it's me lucrative okay I'll just do it. Do it right because you're just you're trapped become a prisoner in your own business. And if that's not what you want, then it's really important that you make that decision to say no.
MZ: And to restructure what you're doing and make the right kind of shifts that support that and then stay consistent with it.
WS: Very cool, man.
WS: Well, I don't want to pick your entire brain while kind of do but that would be rude.
WS: We can get your book calm. We want to continue picking your brain.
MZ: There's, there's three books and the consulting success.com website has almost 1000 articles, lots of podcast episodes videos.
MZ: Plenty of free resources for people who are either looking to transition to become consultants or those that already have consulting businesses. The wanna or the next level.
WS: Thing. Very cool. So the URL, though, so is for the book. I got your
MZ: For the book and your consulting success.com forward slash act now. And that's the other. That's the latest book,
MZ: Wrote, as I mentioned earlier on, you know, given what's going on the world right now.
MZ: I got some great people feature in that book and their insights. It's available in paperback and Kindle and audible. But if people want a free copy of it you can just go to consulting success com forward slash Mac now.
WS: Very cool. So we're linking to that and make sure y'all get it.
WS: Well, heck, man. It's almost beer 30 hmm. So we got to wrap this up. Sounds
MZ: Good west. Great.
WS: Alright man, Michael. Thanks for coming to show it's been great.
MZ: My pleasure.
Wes Schaeffer: Michael Zipursky, author of act now how successful consultants thrive during chaos and uncertainty, where have you been my whole life, man. Welcome to the show.