An important message for consultants and similar service providers with a profitable business and turnover of more than £250k who are not satisfied with how their business is performing

Headshot of The Evil Bald Genius

If the headline at the top of the page describes you, then reading the rest of it will be beneficial in and of itself, even if you decide not to take action at the end

This is a long message, more than 3,127 words. Because of that, most people won't read it. This isn't why it's so long but is a desirable side-effect since it means only the right people will get to the end and take action.

Most will read the first few lines and then click away somewhere else, most likely in response to a notification from some social media app on their phone, or an incoming email.

If the headline at the top of the page describes you, then I caution you not to do this because reading the rest of it will be beneficial to you in and of itself, even if you do decide not to take action at the end.

Earl Nightingale once said, "If in you're in a situation and you don't have any clear way forward and want for clear advice, look around and see what everyone else is doing and do the opposite."

We usually paraphrase this as the majority is always wrong.

And right now, the majority of consultants are failing to come up to scratch in their efforts to attract the best clients and sell to them a premium rates, fees, or prices.

Why?

Because they're all behaving in the same way, slavishly following their peers and colleagues blissfully unaware their peers and colleagues are following them in turn.

Nothing will change until you change how you do things.

But before we get into that, there are 11 simple criteria below you can use to determine fairly objectively how your business is performing. It may be you're fine and don't need to change anything; on the other hand, you may be up Shit Creek without a paddle and sorely need some help.

If all of the following apply to you, then you don't need my help (and you can safely stop reading after the 11th point)

  1. You have no trouble getting leads and booking enough sales calls and meetings.
  2. Your leads are always of the highest quality (and you get them easily and consistently).
  3. Getting in front of your dream clients is so effortless it's almost boring.
  4. You never have to deal with tyre-kickers, window-shoppers, and other timewaster
  5. No-shows for sales calls and meetings is as close to zero% as makes no difference.
  6. Your closing rate with sales presentations is more than 75%.
  7. You never hear the words “I'll have to think about it” or “I'll have to speak to my boss/wife/husband/chinchilla” at the end of sales meetings.
  8. You have the highest rates, fees, or prices in your market, like for like (you charge more than any of your competitors).
  9. You get paid upfront every time.
  10. You never waste time giving free consultations, presenting demos, and painstakingly crafting free proposals only to be ghosted.
  11. And most important of all your revenue and profits are growing consistently in line with the ambitious goals you've set.

If you aren't coming up to scratch in any of those areas then it's highly likely may be familiar with some or all the following common but easily cured symptoms

Note: your symptoms may not be as extreme as these

It may be as innocuous as feeling life a could or should be easier than it currently is.

Regardless: there is no probably cause for alarm.

Yet.

Because these symptoms stem from the same simple and easily rectified cause and getting your business back to robust health is easier than you might think and can happen faster than you’d believe.

But the longer you leave them untreated, the harder, costlier, and less certain treatment will be.

In the event you experience one or more of the symptoms, either now or in the future, then the following course of treatment is highly recommended (as well as being a cure for a wide range of business challenges it is also a powerful and effective prophylactic against sales stagnation in an ever evolving and ever more crowded and undifferentiated marketplace).

But before we dig into the cure, it's worth taking some time to understand why we find ourselves where we do.

In my experience it comes down to focusing time, energy, and money on the wrong things.

Bear with me.

I get asked a lot of questions. Some of them get me rolling my eyes and wondering at the wisdom in maintaining a robust will to live, but most are sensible, relevant, and even smart – and they come, for the most part, from sensible, relevant, and even smart people.

Questions like…

All of these questions need answering at some point. But, sensible as they are, they have one problem in common: they’re all wide of the mark of the question everyone should be asking, but few are.

Hundreds, nay, thousands of people all over the world have solved the problems giving rise to these questions a million times. You shouldn’t waste time concerning yourself with problems others have solved for you.

The one question you do need to answer as a priority?

‘How can I get the right clients?’

You know... clients who pay premium fees, pay on time, and appreciate and respect you and the work you do, rather than the tight-fisted, demanding, and often entitled clients you might be familiar with now who are slow to pay, quick to complain, and obstinate and reluctant when it comes to taking your advice.

The question is simple to answer, and it’s a simple if not always easy task to carry out if you’re prepared to do some hard and uncomfortable work.

It’s sad, but most aren’t willing to do this.

It’s far more appealing to listen to the gushing enthusiasm of those who tell you it’s as easy as putting your raw, authentic, and vulnerable self somewhat nebulously ‘out there’ on social media, form ‘relationships’ and wait for the clients to beat a path to your door. Sadly, this doesn’t work in any meaningful way for anyone interested in selling anything other than engagement. If this approach did work efficiently and effectively, it would be working for you right now.

My guess is it isn’t, or you wouldn’t be reading this report and would have thrown it straight in the bin. Not only that, but I venture if you look around at the peers, competitors, and role models you’re following, you’ll see it’s not working for them, either (because they’re looking right back at you and following you in their turn).

A successful business is predicated on a reliable and predictable stream of high quality clients you can sell to at premium rates, fees, or prices. If we can establish these three criteria then we have control of our sales and thus control of our businesses (and by extension our lives outside work).

The trouble is, despite advances in technology and how quick and easy it is to get your marketing and sales messages in front of your ideal clients...

... it’s getting harder to attract and sell to them, not easier as you'd expect.

Why?

Because most are making one or more of nine critical mistakes in the processes they rely on for getting clients.

9 reasons you may be experiencing these symptoms

  1. You and your team are unclear on the precise characteristics and traits of your ideal client. This is a common mistake. Even when we start with good intentions it's easy to allow “mission creep”.

    As a consequence, your marketing, sales, and delivery are not as tightly focused on your ideal prospects as it could be. And because of this you waste time and money talking to the wrong people – people who can never or won't ever buy from you.
  2. You lack focus on the most important pain points your ideal clients are experiencing. The conversations you have with prospects are instead focused on you, your product, or your service and you spend your time with them talking about the features of what you sell rather than the pain the prospect wants you to take away.

    Consequently, your offer is insufficiently compelling to your prospects. The most common symptom of this mistake is hearing either “I need to think about it” or “It's too expensive” a lot.
  3. You confine your marketing and sales to one or two saturated and highly competitive channels and you find it hard to differentiate yourself and be heard above the noise. The overwhelming majority of businesses nowadays confine their marketing and sales to the Internet in general and social media in particular. Once upon a time this wasn't a problem; there was even a time when it was decidedly advantageous.

    But times have changed and we have a convergence on all the social media platforms where everyone looks, sounds, and acts the same and the arbitrary rules and policies of those platforms conspire to make standing out in any meaningful way almost impossible. Business owners are a bit like teenagers – they're all different and unique in exactly the same indistinguishable way.
  4. You have a transactional model of selling rather than a transformational one. In other words, you or your team have a tendency to focus on trying to sell to your prospects before first getting to the truth of their situation.

    Usually this is done with the best intent, but it means the conversations you have with prospects are sometimes off kilter. It can be tempting to see every prospect's problem as a nail and your solution as a hammer.

    The upshot of this is you can spend a long time and expend a lot of energy trudging down the path to the sale only to realise your solution isn't right for the prospect. You've wasted your time and energy and theirs unnecessarily.
  5. You have some rules about the type of work you want to do and the people you prefer to work with, but you don't always enforce them. The inevitable consequence of this is you sometimes end up working with people you shouldn't and quickly come to wish you hadn't.

    This is a particularly common mistake if times are lean and you need the work. It’s easy to turn a blind eye and bend the rules, even though every time you do it comes back to bite you hard.
  6. You give free consultations, free proposals, and the like before establishing whether or not the prospect has the willingness or ability to pay. Whichever way you look at this, it means you are working for free. Sometimes there’s no harm done, but at the very least it means you’re often working to solve others’ problems when they can’t or won’t pay you for your trouble.

    More often than not it ends badly in you being ghosted (while the prospect makes merry with your ideas and IP), or you wasting your time and energy.
  7. You allow your prospects to direct the course and direction of your sales meetings. When you have a sales meeting or call, you have no plan, script, or framework and instead prefer to “wing it”.

    One of the knock-on effects of this is your prospects drive the conversation with their questions, forcing you down irrelevant and inappropriate paths.

    Prospects typically don’t know enough about how to solve their problem to quiz you about your solution (if they did, they’d be solving the problem themselves instead of talking to you about it). Ultimately, this lack of control of the dialogue allows prospects to come to incorrect conclusions and you fail to make the sale. Everyone loses, including your prospects.
  8. In sales meetings you tend to focus on the thing you do, the result it gives, or the price you charge instead of the high-level outcome you deliver. People don’t buy a drill. Nor do they buy the hole in the wall. What they buy is the warm and fuzzy feelings they get from looking at the photos of their kids hanging from the picture hanger screwed into the hole in the wall.

    Most business owners don’t understand the high level outcome is what they’re selling. Not the thing, not what the thing does, but what the thing doing its thing does for them.
  9. You find yourself being pressurised into giving discounts because you insufficiently qualify your prospects before you try to close them. Price resistance is a natural and inevitable consequence of failing to ask the right questions of your prospects – you haven’t got to the truth of their problems and challenges, so you haven’t uncovered the true extent of their pain.

    Any desire they have at this point is superficial and contingent on the price being “right” (read: low). When this happens you’ll often hear “Can we do something about the price?”, “I can get the same thing cheaper elsewhere”, and “We’ll leave it for a while and see how things turn out”.

A possible antidote

At first blush these nine underlying causes for many a businesses woes might seem unrelated, but they’re not. On the contrary, they boil down to a ridiculously small number of underlying mistakes the vast majority of business owners make as a matter of routine. They are so ubiquitous they’re hiding in plain sight, which is why so few people in business are aware they’re making them.

And the best thing of all is they’re simple to fix, even if that fix isn’t always easy.

I say this last because while fixing them isn’t complicated or expensive and doesn’t take long, it does mean doing things very differently from how you’re doing them now.

It’s safe to say nailing these challenges means defying industry norms and meeting with more than a little disapproval and “opinions” from busybodies with nothing better to do than criticise others for no good reason than they do indeed have nothing better to do. Not everyone is cut out for that kind of attention – which is why most businesses are so-so and mediocre; I’m thinking you’re likely cut from different cloth.

In short, if you want the kind of business you deserve and are prepared to work for, it means standing out in a crowded, often saturated marketplace and sending a different, maverick, and contrarian message out to the world.

You can’t do that by being indistinguishable from your competitors and being a wallflower, right?

Right.

So...

A question for you...

If...

And you are...

Then...

Maybe you and I should talk.

After all, what harm could a few minutes with me on the phone do?

It won’t cost you a bean and I promise I will never, ever try to sell you anything unless you ask me to.

Can’t say fairer than that, can I?

FAIR WARNING

Potential consequences and side effects of a cure may include:

Finally...

I metaphorically eat my own dog food, and this page is marketing material.

It is intended to encourage you to think about your business in a way you perhaps haven’t thought about it before and to demonstrate how there are far more effective ways to get others’ attention than endless lacklustre, mediocre, and frankly tedious posting on social media, cold calls, and pot-luck emails.

You have no obligation to agree with me, respond, or even take any action whatsoever.

But... I reckon you’d be bloody silly not to.

There are three easy ways to talk to me:

  1. Call me on +353 833 943 793. This is my personal mobile number and comes direct to me. If I don’t pick up, leave a message and I’ll call you back. If it looks weird it’s because I live in the Republic of Ireland and 353 is the country code. And if you’re concerned about paying through the nose for call charges, add me on WhatsApp and call me from the app.
  2. WhatsApp or text me on the same number. Not everyone wants to talk to a stranger on the phone. If that’s you, send me a message and we can perhaps take it from there.
  3. Email me on ebg@evilbaldgenius.com. The lightest touch of all if you’re the shy and retiring type.

Warmly,

Jon McCulloch

The Evil Bald Genius

P.S. Remember... three easy ways to talk to me:

  1. Call me on +353 833 943 793. This is my personal mobile number and comes direct to me. If I don’t pick up, leave a message and I’ll call you back. If it looks weird it’s because I live in the Republic of Ireland and 353 is the country code. And if you’re concerned about paying through the nose for call charges, add me on WhatsApp and call me from the app.
  2. WhatsApp or text me on the same number. Not everyone wants to talk to a stranger on the phone. If that’s you, send me a message and we can perhaps take it from there.
  3. Email me on ebg@evilbaldgenius.com. The lightest touch of all if you’re the shy and retiring type.