Mechanics of consultative selling

In the 2020’s, successful expertise consultants will ply their trade from an interactive broadcast studio

This is a reflection on the mechanics of selling complex services through a consultative process. Later, once you have a work agreement, it can be applied to delivering services. And it also applies to audio/video content marketing.

It’s not a reflection on productivity. Nor is it strategy or anything even close to thought leadership. But it’s extremely important, especially to solopreuneurs or consultants in small firms; it’s about creating the essential communications conditions for a consultive selling mindset to flourish.

This is the practical advice that I wish seasoned consulting coaches would offer: create, and work from, a professional-grade broadcast studio.

Clarity first.

I mean measurable, physical clarity.

We don’t sell in person, we sell virtually. So your voice should be as clear as a mountain lake. As if you were there next to your client, speaking in their ear. Ok that sounded a bit creepy, but you get the point?

Your image sharp, like HD television. And to the extent it’s not sharp, it should be de-contrasted, to soften hard lines in your face. The background should be simple. Not pure white necessarily, but not open office space either.

Diffused lighting, no top or side shadow, plus a direct. soft light on your face, the camera just in front of you. The camera angle is simple too: just above eyebrow line, straight ahead, from at least 3 feet away.

This means your wireless mouse and keyboard should be set up so that you can control the broadcast while maintaining the right perspective.

Watch the video but go beyond. Use a wireless earbud (not bulky headphones): not distracting, yet never an echo. Did Dan Rather broadcast from bulky headphones?

Be able to share your screen at any time, at the click of a button. Your desktop computer becomes a live video feed first, a workstation second.

Find the right tools to make this happen; create a professional broadcast studio, and consult from it. This is step zero.

Second: calm delivery.

You are calm, composed, and poised. After all, you’re not selling. You are hosting a guest in your interactive broadcast studio.

The technical clarity of your audio and video feeds is a double-edge sword. If you rush what you say, if you are scattered, if you are nervous, it will register painfully. If however, you are calm, poised, and relaxed, those qualities will set the tone of the conversation. Which is important when you consider the following strategic considerations:

  • If anything, rather than selling, you’re being to sold to in the sense that you are determining fit.
  • And because you have a lead generation program in place, there are more conversations like this one just around the corner.
  • So there is no need whatsoever to turn this conversation into a client-consultant relationship.
  • The question isn’t how much something costs, or even whether you should provide that thing.
  • The question is what is the problem that needs to be solved.
  • Of course, you may have the habit of creating the solution – and the price – on the fly, but that’s a good habit to unlearn.

The calm you convey through your high-fidelity connection will help you can materialize all these good things, plus other important mechanics, such as “next steps”.

Third: know thy calendar. 

A broadcast studio always has an events calendar on hand. It describes your availability in the coming weeks and months. Bonus points if you know enough about your client conversation partner to have put their important dates on your calendar. It’s the first, pinned tab on your browser. It’s one of the reasons why it’s so natural for you to schedule a follow-up meeting (if one is warranted based on what you’ve learned).

Speaking of which, never begin a consultive selling conversation without having written down, until you commit them to memory, times for the follow-up conversation. You don’t search your calendar, while on the call, to find your availability for that conversation; the calendar is just a backup because you already have those times in mind, or in case you need to get more than one meeting on the books.

Does MSNBC news anchor Brian Williams say to this to his guests, “Wait a second, hang on. Umm…. let me check my calendar to see when we can have you on again. Umm… Tuesday? Wait no, no. Wednesday would work…..”. 

Fourth: program the interactive feed:

You have opened between 3 and 10 tabs in your browser before you begin the call. As mentioned, have the calendar ready. But also, your client’s website and whatever else is relevant: meeting notes, diagrams, designs, decks, etcetera. Take some time to figure out what makes sense.

Conspicuously absent is anything not helpful to the client, including bookmarks and browser extensions. Unless they are relevant to the conversation, all of these things are distractions.

When Brian Williams turns his broadcast to a screen of pre-programmed information, does he have to “pull it up”. “Hang on, let me find that”. No. His viewers are busy and so are your prospective clients. There will be exceptions to this rule based on the flow of your unique conversation, so make sure you have the obvious things accounted for. 

And if there is no screenshare, then all of this must be delivered in advance.

In conclusion, you are running a business form an interactive broadcast studio. Your desktop computer and its appurtenances must be carefully calibrated to realize that communication model. Transform it from a workstation to the technical centerpiece of your studio.

To snap this back to reality, however, you won’t always have a distraction-free office. Maybe you work from a co-working office, or a Starbucks, or your living room. There are cats, dogs, spouses, kids, baristas, and other people holding conversations. There could even be unreliable connectivity through which to deliver the audio and video waves that comprise your delivery.

Or maybe you have your own professional office, or office space with a conference room – but don’t assume that’s all you need. I have been in very high-rent office conference rooms with terrible camera angles, echo-y acoustics, and bad lighting.

Perfectly lit, distraction-free, high-connectivity (“high-clarity”) space – space that by definition you exercise a high degree of control over – is expensive.

What can you do to bridge the gap between your reality and your “ideality”, the professional sound and video studio completely free of distraction? 

And here’s the most important question: can you bridge that gap enough to create the right mindset, in yourself and in your conversation-partner, to set the right tone for your conversation?