Episode 027 – 5 Key Differences Between A Job Search and Selling Consulting (Part 1)

Independent consultants who treat their business development process like a job search create a feast or famine situation in their consulting business. There are several critical differences between searching for a job and selling consulting services that I’ll dive into on this episode, so you can increase the income and impact you’re making in your independent consulting business.

In this episode, I walk you through the differences between job search and consulting sales. This episode will help you get yourself to a place where your business development process is much more effective for your consulting business. 

On this episode, I will discuss: 
[05:34] Client example of how treating consulting sales like a job search is self-sabotage
[07:40] Difference #1 – the purpose of your resume and LinkedIn profile
[11:20] Difference #2 – the difference in how you uncover opportunities in consulting business development vs. in a job search
[14:42] Difference #3 – interviewing vs. selling your consulting expertise


  1. Click here for the replayThe Blueprint to Break Free from the Consulting Feast or Famine Cycle Masterclass
  2. Ready for help figuring out how to leverage these sales strategies in your IC business and ultimately double your revenue without working more?
    1. I invite you to apply for a strategy call with me. 
    2. On this call, we’ll dive into your business and get clear on your goals and challenges and determine an action plan for you so that you can create the business impact, income, and flexibility that you desire. 
    3. To get on my calendar, please visit www.consultmelisa.com


  • Click here for more details on the Double Method Coaching for Independent Consultants and/or to schedule a revenue optimization call with Melisa
  • Click here to download the 27 WAYS TO LAND YOUR NEXT CONSULTING CLIENT


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Welcome to the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. I’m Melisa Liberman, a fellow IC and business coach. On this podcast, I teach you to become a consistently booked independent consultant without becoming a pushy salesperson or working 24/7. If I can do it, you can too. Listen on to find out how.


Welcome back to the podcast. If you are a longer-term listener, thank you for returning. And if you’re brand new to the podcast, I’m so excited. You’re here. We’re getting so many new listeners every week. And I just want to say thank you. So today’s topic is the five key differences between a job search and selling your consulting services. There are some subtle differences between searching for a job and selling consulting services that I want to dive into for you so that you are able to create and close more business in your consulting practice. But before we dive into that topic, which is going to be really actionable for you, I want to share an update on a masterclass I just hosted. It was called the blueprint to break free from the consulting feast or famine cycle, a little bit of alliteration there, the blueprint to break free from the consulting feast or famine cycle, it was a great turnout, I got so much feedback on the takeaways and actionable tips that I shared. So I want to make sure that you don’t miss that. So if you weren’t there live, you can go to Melisaliberman.com, backslash feast, dash famine, dash blueprint, and register, and my system will send you the replay. So we’ll put the link to that in the show notes as well. I know I said it really quickly. But go check that out, go get the replay because it will give you some really good strategies on how to either break free from the feast or famine or avoid it if you’re not in there right now. Alright, so go do that. So that you’re able to grow your business in a more sustainable, stable way. Without all that stress and worry and self-doubt that comes along. For so many of us a consulting business, it doesn’t have to be that way. And that’s what the purpose of the masterclass was, so go check it out. Okay, so let’s dive into today’s topic, which is what are the differences between a job search for a full-time role and selling your consulting services. And the reason why I wanted to focus on this topic today is that I recently had a client that I thought you could relate to she came to me and said, you know, one of my biggest issues is that I am not able to fill my consulting pipeline with leads. And she was having a feast or famine situation, right. She was so frustrated that she was almost at the point of giving up on her consulting role. And going back to corporate, even though that wasn’t her first choice, she felt like it wouldn’t give her the stability that she felt was so important to kind of mentally and financially sustain herself. You know, she shared with me all the things she had tried the LinkedIn messages, the new connections on LinkedIn, networking online and going to events online, a little bit of in-person networking, which you know, a lot of those opportunities have been delayed because of COVID. She had been reaching out and connecting with former colleagues and friends that she had worked with previously and really just trying to have conversations. And for her, it was crickets. There were people interested in having a patch-up conversation with her, but really nothing else. And so she was relying and depending so much on recruiters, and marketplaces, and really fell out of control in her consulting, business, and underpaid. And so we just dug in to figure out what needed to be adjusted. And what I want to share with you are the things that we uncovered for her because I think they’re going to help you if you’re in the same situation. In a nutshell, she was treating a lot of the elements of our consulting business development process, like a job search, even though they were different. And that would make sense, right? We’re all familiar with the process to land a new job, something we’ve done, you know, on and off since our early 20s. A lot of us if not earlier, got jobs when we were in high school, but to succeed as a consulting business owner, you cannot recreate the job search even subtly. And so that’s what we figured out that she was doing and that’s why today I want to share with you what that looks like so that you can uncover if you’re repeating the same kinds of mistakes she was making. and get yourself to a place where your business development process is much more effective for your consulting business. Alright, so let’s dive in. The first thing we’re going to talk about today is what was that client doing that was ineffective. And then I will share with you the key differences between the job search and consulting business development, there are five of them. So we want to make sure you’re able to really understand what each of those five is so that you can identify whether or not you’re doing these very subtly and sabotaging yourself. Alright, so that is our plan for today. So let’s just talk at a high level, what was this client doing? That was ineffective for her. And it really boils down to two things, the way she was positioning herself. So there were subtle ways that she was not leading the prospective clients, and allowing them to lead her as you would in a more traditional job search. So that was the first theme that we found is that she was not positioning herself as the expert as the leader driving a client to better understand their pain points and how to solve those, she was more subtly allowing the potential client to lead her through the process, as you would experience in a job search. So I’m going to dive into more detail about what that means. But that was one of the themes. And then the second theme that we uncovered is that she was all using the word Miss directed, misguided on what she was selling. And for a lot of us as independent consultants, we’re also a little bit confused about what it is that we’re selling. And what I mean by that is, that we sometimes default to thinking we’re selling ourselves, selling our knowledge, selling our expertise, selling our experience, selling our results that we’ve created in the past. And that’s not actually what you’re selling. In a traditional job search, it is. But in consulting business development process, you’re selling a solution that fixes a client’s problem. It’s very, very different, subtle, but very, very different. So those are the two themes of what she was doing effectively. And so now I want to dive into what that actually looks like. So the five key differences between a job search and consulting business development, right. So today, we’re going to go through the first three of them. And then I’m going to share with you in part two, next week, the last two. So the first three are this number one, leaning on a resume or a LinkedIn profile as the way that you’re selling yourself. So that is a key difference between a job search and consulting business development. In a traditional job search, we’re all used to really leveraging our resume as the key asset in our sales process, right, our LinkedIn profile, or both. They’re really the tool that we use to sell ourselves. And we might use other tools in that process, like, you know, if you have to do any type of presentation or anything like that as part of the job search process. But ultimately, for most of us, as we’re going through a traditional job search, we’re used to using our resume and our LinkedIn profile as our main sales tool. And so when you repeat that, as a consultant, selling your consulting services, you end up right away setting up the rules of engagement with your potential buyer, thinking that you’re someone who’s selling, selling you selling your time, selling you as a person to work with them, just in a different capacity, right? Not full-time. But potentially, you know, they start thinking of you as someone who’s more of a staff augmentation type of an individual versus someone who is an expert who can solve a specific business problem for them. So the shift that you want to make in this case, if you are right now leaning more on your LinkedIn profile or your resume as a sales tool, you want to shift into making the process about your potential clients. So you’re replacing your resume and your LinkedIn profile and your history selling you with really diving into the clients. Your resume is more of an afterthought or an appendix or something as a formality if they need it. It is certainly not the key asset or the kind of leading tool that you use in your sales process. So you want to make the shift away from your resume and your LinkedIn profile as your sales tool into using a conversation as your sales tool, using a consultative conversation as your sales tool to really make the process about your potential clients to ask them questions and dive in deep about what are the pain points they’re experiencing? Why do those pain points matter to them? Why would those pain points be so acute that they would want to address it now versus later, or leveraging external help versus internal resources, diving in and allowing that conversation to occur, versus using your resume as kind of the leading part of a process to start engaging with a client’s Alright, so that’s the number one difference between a job search and selling your consulting services is that you don’t want to be leaning on your resume or your LinkedIn profile. To sell you, as a consultant. You want to use that as a formality if it’s needed. But instead, you want to really lead the process with conversations, so you can understand pain points, that then later you can address with that potential clients. Alright, so that’s the key difference number one, and how you want to make that shift. The key difference in number two is how you’re uncovering opportunities. So in a traditional job search, a lot of us are used to finding job opportunities that are posted. That’s the easiest way, right, you can go out on a company’s website, or you can go on LinkedIn and find those roles that have been posted. Now for a lot of us in more senior roles, we know that that isn’t necessarily always a mess, most effective way to find opportunities. But you’re in a job search, oftentimes looking for someone who needs an open headcount. So if we think about the way we approach a traditional job search, we’re looking for an open headcount that we could fit and be hired into, right, whether that’s posted or maybe you’re networking into finding those things, when you take that same approach to consult business developments, looking for kind of an open box where people need additional help, it ends up putting you into that staff augmentation bucket, where they’re looking at you to come in and solve a problem that really is they see as a headcount. So they end up paying you or calculating your rates based on some formulation of what it would look like to pay this person hourly, in a way that’s in the similar thinking to what I would pay someone full time. We don’t want to fall into that trap, you end up becoming a commodity, you end up working on roles that you probably call a 510 or 20 years ago to do and you’re underpaid as a result of it. We’re not looking for job opportunities that would show up on an org chart in some form, or fashion as a consultant. So the shift that you want to make when you’re uncovering opportunities, is to look at this more from that consulting point of view. You’re not waiting for postings or for open headcount, or for a hiring manager to say, you know, I’m, I’m underwater, I need more capacity. That’s not the type of role that you’re looking for. You’re looking to uncover and create opportunities for your business with target clients who have a business problem that they need to solve. And so you’re shifting the conversation, again, around selling you into some kind of a box that they need to fill, and into a conversation where you’re helping the potential clients see their pain points, whether they recognize them now, or they’re got a blind spot that you’re bringing to them. And helping them to see that the work that you’re doing, will have a return on their investment. And it’s not about you adding more capacity to their team, it’s about you solving a business problem, that is either going to lead to some form of a return on investment, whether it’s either additional revenue, cost savings, or efficiencies in their business. So that’s the second key difference between a job search and selling your consulting services is the way that you think about finding and uncovering opportunities and therefore the way you approach it. And then the third one that we’re going to focus on today is interviewing. The difference between interviewing for a full-time job versus selling your consulting expertise. There are differences here. And it’s easy to fall into what’s familiar and you know, what you might have done in the past with job searching, versus you handling and managing the process of a potential client buying your consulting services. So this is something that that client that I’ve been talking with you about was falling into this trap, she was looking at the situation. And once she had someone interested in what she did, and treating it as more of an interview, versus, you know, in the case where she did actually create leads, right, then she wasn’t converting those at the level she wanted to be because she started falling into the trap of treating them more like an interview versus a consultative sales process. So let me tell you what that looks like. When you are going through a traditional job search, again, you’re selling you, you’re selling the value that you can bring for that credential employer, and, and answering their questions and allowing them to really drive the process, right, the manager is driving the process, they’re deciding who you need to meet with, who needs to have buy-in those kinds of things, that manager is managing the process. And they’re asking you a lot of questions to understand if you are a good fit for the opening that they have. But when you still allow that type of process to occur in your consulting sales process, you end up advocating a lot of authority over to the manager and they see themselves as someone who is really vetting you, right, you fall into that staff augmentation type trap, kind of like I haven’t dated in over 20 years, but it’s like falling into the friendzone. Right? You don’t want to fall into the friendzone. You don’t want to fall into the job seeker zone, you want to fall into the consultant who is leading a potential buyer through a process that is very different. So that’s the shift that you want to make you want to take control. This is not an interview process where the manager sets up the slate of interviewees. This is a process where you’re managing and leading from the front of consultative conversation and process. You’re asking the questions, you’re getting clear on what the buyer’s pain points are, you’re getting clear on what their ultimate goals and vision are, you’re getting clear on what they care about why they care about solving this problem, why it matters to them, you’re getting clear on who the potential detractors are and how helping that buyer once they’re really interested in what you do navigate through their own internal politics. It’s very different than what it looks like with a typical job interview. And that’s the shift that you want to make. It’s like a 180. All right, so in an effort to keep these episodes short, we’re going to end there for today. But what I want to say to you is there are two more key differences between a job search and a consultative sales process, a consulting sales process. So tune in next week for part two, where we’re going to wrap all of this together, I’m going to share with you those two other key differences, and then give you a five-point process for you to follow so that you can stop falling into the trap of selling yourself as a job seeker would and therefore relegating yourself into more of staff augmentation, type of positioning, and get yourself to the place where you’re coming across as more of an authority and therefore selling yourself at higher rates at higher compensation, and having more autonomy over yourself and your schedule at the end of the day. So tune in next week for that if you’re listening to a kind of as we go. Otherwise, if these have already been posted, you can skip over to the next episode, and hear the ending of this. And I also want to encourage you to go sign up for that replay of the feast or famine masterclass. The link will be in the show notes so that you can look at your business in a different way and escape that feast or famine and get yourself to the place where you’re growing your business and you have control over your income and the impact that you’re making and the independence that you have when you’re doing it. Alright, well I will see you again next week. Thanks for tuning in.


Thanks for joining me this week on the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. If you like today’s episode, I have three quick next steps for you. First, click Subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to make sure you don’t miss future episodes. Next, leave me a review in your podcast app so other independent consultants can find it beneficial too. And finally, to put the ideas from today’s episode into action, head over to Melisaliberman.com for the show notes and more resources to help you grow your consulting practice from your first few projects into a full-fledged business See you next week.

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