Episode 060 – The 3 Sales Mindset Shifts for Independent Consultants

If you hate everything to do with selling, think that you are terrible at it and basically avoided any type of sales situation at all costs then this episode is for you.

Today, we’re going to focus in on the top three sales mindset shifts that I see most independent consultants need to make in order to earn more money and earn the money with more ease. 

In this episode, I share the three most common mindset mistakes when it comes to selling your consulting services and how you can determine if you’re making these mistakes. Then I’ll pull it all together for you with a three-step process that you can implement to make sure you’re avoiding these three mindsets mistakes when it comes to selling your consulting services.

  • [00:54] How your sales mindset impacts your IC business
  • [04:33] Check out the IC Business Predictability Assessment: https://www.ic-scorecard.com
  • [05:41] Sales Mindset Mistake #1 
  • [12:17] Sales Mindset Mistake #2 
  • [18:54] Sales Mindset Mistake #3
  • [25:17] The three-step process that you can implement to shift your sales mindset



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**note: This is an automated transcript, so please ignore spelling errors and grammar mistakes*


Welcome back. I’m so excited you’re joining me today. Today we’re going to focus on the top three, sales mindset shifts that I see most independent consultants need to make in some form or fashion so that you can earn more money, and do it with more ease. Let’s make some more money and make it easier on ourselves. So that’s what we’re focused on today. The reason why we’re talking about this today is I was working with one of my clients a few weeks ago, she’s an icy business owner. And we were working on her business development process. So we were starting to look at some examples of recent sales calls that she had had, and trying to figure out what went well, so that she could continue and amplify it. And then areas of opportunity that she could adjust. And so as we started peeling back the layers, we uncovered that she was she wasn’t getting exactly the results that she was expecting, she was having some good calls. And then, at some points, you know, it was, she was creating a next step, which was great. And then she would get an email back from the prospective clients. And it would kind of take a different turn than she expected, which was, I think we should we need a wait, I think what your solution is, is fantastic. But we really need to wait to, you know, to be able to afford you essentially or wait to be able to kind of put you in as a priority. And so as we started pulling, peeling back those layers, and figuring out what might be creating that result for her, what we realized is that she was seeing this process as an interview of her. So when she was going through the process to meet new potential clients, and get and start, you know, diving into what their challenges were and what they might need help with. At the heart of it, she was seeing it as an interview of her. And that seems logical, right? For two reasons. I think number one, that’s what we’re used to, especially coming out of corporate for those of us, you know, who spent a good chunk of our time incorporate, that’s, that’s the most familiar mental construct, right as an interviewer. The other reason why it might seem really logical is sometimes it’s set up in this way. Well, I really want to get to know you and hear, hear more about what you might do for us. And so, as a result, when you hear those kinds of things as an independent consultant, you might be thinking, Oh, this is kind of like an interview, they want to talk to me and see if my expertise is, you know, in line with what they’re looking for. And so you might be in the same boat as my client thinking that this type of meeting is with a potential client is an interview. And today, I want to share with you how it’s a mistake to think of a meeting like an interview, a meeting with a potential consulting client, and sec. And that’s the first mistake, the mental mindset mistake that I find so often independent consultant business owners are making. And then I want to share with you two other really common thought errors that I see when it comes to selling your consulting services. So in all, we’re going to talk about those three most common mindset mistakes when it comes to selling your consulting services.


And I’ll continue telling you what happened with that story here in a minute. So that’s really what we’re going to work on sales mindset shifts that you’ll want to make as an Icee business owner. So first, I’m going to walk you through the three mistakes that I see most often. And then I’m going to pull it all together for you to help you figure out which of these mistakes or potentially others you might be making from a mindset perspective, as you’re approaching conversations with potential clients and walk you through a three-step process that you can really use to figure out where you might be getting in your own way mindset wise, and then what to do about it. Before we dive in, though, I want to remind Do that I’ve created an independent consultant business predictability assessment. And I will, it’s been getting really good feedback, it’s been helping the independent consulting business owners like you to really think about your business from a more strategic perspective, from the bigger picture helps you to kind of take a step away from the day today, and really look at the four critical pillars of a business of your independent consulting business so that you can grow in a sustainable, predictable way. So if you haven’t yet taken that go over to I see the letters IC, which stands for an independent consultant, obviously, I see dash scorecard.com. Okay, so with that, let’s dive into our agenda for today, which is, again, those three, I’m going to walk you through those three mistakes and give you some really clear, detailed scenarios, and examples. And then I’ll pull it all together for you with a process at the end that you can implement to make sure you’re avoiding Mindset Mistakes when it comes to selling your services. Okay, so let’s talk about let’s finish out this first mindset mistake, which is thinking that meetings you’re having with prospective clients are interviews. So going back to that client, I shared with you at the beginning of this podcast, who by the way, asked me to do a podcast related to this topic. Here’s what happened to her. And I’ll give you a little bit more background, and then tell you how we knew that ultimately, this was a mindset issue, and then what she did about it. So what I and just to be, just to a caveat, I might get a few of these details off, but this is the gist of it. So essentially, she had an internal stakeholder in prospective clients. So I think it might have been a director or something like that, who introduced her and wanted to bring her in to meet with the CMO. This internal stakeholder was, you know, all bought in that that what my client does is is exactly what they need as from an independent consultant, and brought her in to meet with the CMO. And so she went into that meeting, thinking it was kind of a vetting process, right, like I was talking about earlier, it seems very much like an interview. And if in the way I just described it, we would all probably conclude that it could be an interview. And so that the CMO would probably be asking her a lot of questions and just vetting out her capabilities and rapport and that kind of thing. And so that’s how she went into this meeting, as focused on establishing rapport, answering questions, and making sure that the next steps were really clear. And so the whole of that seemed to be going really great. She created that rapport. She answered all of the questions, gave some really good, you know, recommendations, and explained her background in a really good, articulate way. They came up with the next steps, and all seem to be going well. But then a few days later, she received an email that said from that CMO, now isn’t the right a great to meet you,


what you’re the perfect person, you’re exactly what we need. But now is probably not the best time we’re going to need a budget for what you do. And in we can kind of think about starting in two and a quarter or two. So it wasn’t a no, but it was a not right now that she got back from that client. And so she came to me, as you know, in our weekly coaching calls, and as in and we decided, let’s really strategize for her initial request was like, let’s just strategize on how I might respond to this. And so I asked her a lot of questions about the business case, about why would this client bring her on? What are they wanting to accomplish? What is their budget? You know, tell me all the things tell me, and what we started realizing is that my client, the independent consulting business owner, didn’t have didn’t leverage in that meeting in order to get the details she needed to be able to answer these types of questions that are so important, right? What is the specific value this prospective client is looking to, to, to receive? What is the outcome that they’re wanting to accomplish? Why? What is their budget? If they have one? If they don’t have one? Why? Why isn’t it funded? Those kinds of questions What is the internal approval process? Who’s going to be signing off? Do any of them have concerns is is what is the timing for you like all of those kinds of questions that we would normally be asking as consultants I can assure you, my Client, the independent consulting business owner knows exactly what these questions are and how to ask them that the challenge was that she was going into this process thinking that it was an inner, they were interviewing her. That’s what shut her down from asking all of these types of questions because she was in a different headspace than where she needed to be in order to get these kinds of questions. And this is incredibly common, not picking on this client at all. It happens all the time. And so when you’re coming into a conversation with a potential client, thinking that it’s an interview, you’ve probably done this before, at least once or twice in the past. And it’s easy to get sucked into this mindset, especially with the kind of setup that I described to you the way that my client was brought into the conversations, what ends up happening is that you set yourself up to be more passive, more responsive, versus leading the conversation. And then you’re not setting the tone you want to be having with that clients, with your prospective clients. And you’re not getting all the information you need to craft a solution or proposal. Do you see why that’s happening? It’s not because of anything you’re doing wrong or don’t know how to do. It’s, it’s driven from the mindset that this is an interview. And so the shift in this case that my, my independent consulting, business owner client made, and ultimately you would want to make in order to avoid, avoid this trap isn’t really your strategy. Because at the end of the day, I know you know how to ask really powerful questions to figure out what a client’s problem is. And to figure out what the solution might be you a consultant, that’s what you do at the heart of it. And the same thing for my business, independent consulting business owner client, she knows how to do this, I, if she’s done it, you know, 1000 times, she’s got to be in the right headspace. What that means is, you’ve got to come into these types of calls, all of them, knowing that this is not an interview of you. And also, this isn’t about you, really, this is about you conducting a process where you’re understanding and digging through the layers of the client’s challenges to understand what they need, why they want it, and why they need it. And really, for you to qualify whether or not you’re going to give them a coveted spot on your client roster.


You may only have a spot for one client, you may have a spot for a couple of clients when you’re thinking about your spots as something really coveted. And you’re in a process of vetting out whether or not you’re going to bring on a client onto your roster. It’s such a different headspace than I’m interviewing to prove that I can do whatever it is that they want, or need me to do. So that’s the number nine, the first of three mindset shifts you want to be making as you are selling your consulting services. Okay, let’s move to the second one. The second one and I think I’ve already used this erroneously in this conversation already today. And that is the mindset of thinking this is a sales call. For simplicity’s sake, sometimes we call it a sales call, right? As I said, I think I even called it a sales call once or twice, once or twice already. But at the heart of this, this is not a sales call. And when you go in with a mindset that this is a sales call, that’s when it starts shifting the dynamics of the meeting. And you ended up not getting exactly what you need out of it. And neither do your prospective client. So let me give you an example here. I’ll share with you another story, a little bit of background, and then tell you that story. Let us show you how this is also a mindset issue. And then what to do about it, you probably relate to this. So I had another client and another independent consulting business owner client, we’re using the word client so many times today, I’m trying to be very clear here. My independent consulting business owner client, we’ll just call her Jane for simplicity’s sake. She had the first conversation with her potential clients, her potential consulting clients, and that potential consulting client of James had reached out and wanted to inquire about, you know, I know you I think you do this kind of thing that I’m needing some strategy work on. I would love to talk with you about it in more detail and see if you could help. So is it an inbound conversation? And so Jane went into that meeting, like most of us would thinking that it’s our sales call. And that seems logical, right? I mean, we could all agree that one way to describe this is that it’s a sales call. But when Jane was thinking about it, and we were talking about it afterward, when she’s thinking about it like a sales call, that immediately creates a dynamic where she feels tense, she feels awkward, and she even feels scared. And so as a result, we’re talking about this after the fact, she realized that, by going into this, this meeting, with the thought that this I’ve got to go into this sales call, she went into that meeting, and in from that tense place, and as a result came across as hesitant, and ended up veering into that lane, we’ve probably all been in over-explaining and unnecessarily justifying. And ultimately, for her, those conversations didn’t move forward. On the surface of it, we could, you know, we looked at her strategy, there was a lot about her strategy. And the way she was managing the call that was very, very solid. But under the covers, because she was coming at this in such a way, it felt so awkward and a little bit scary and kind of tense, because it’s a quote-unquote, sales call. It ended up shifting the tenor of this meeting to a place where that client decided not to move forward. Of course, the client didn’t say you were weird, you know, as backup, but she could feel that that’s her assessment of No, I just went in there, I wasn’t myself. And you can probably relate to this because it’s so common. And so now you might be saying, well, Melisa, it is a sales call. And now I’m confused, because what about what am I supposed to do about this. But at the end of the day, if you’re thinking about what you’re doing from a business development perspective, whether it’s this first conversation or sub, you know, all the way through the business development process, if you’re thinking about this, as this is a sales call, then you’re you end up putting yourself into a headspace that is really likely to make you feel weird or awkward or tentative. If you’re like most independent consultants, now some of you out there are amazing at selling and it’s not it doesn’t it’s not a hang-up for you. And so this might not be an issue but for the majority of independent consultants and if you’re listening to this particular episode, it’s probably


you we feel like sales is that can feel like sales is a bad thing or an awkward thing. And that’s how we ended up getting ourselves into this mindset trap. So how do I know it was Jane’s thinking and the root cause of her showing up in a hesitant way was because of the way she was thinking about this particular call. And this is the way I know this is we did in a minute we worked on her mindset we figured out this is what she was thinking at the heart of it this is a sales call. And it makes me and I feel worried. And so we started looking at this What could she shift this into? What could she shift this into that doesn’t create this feeling of freezing and hesitation and tentative we made a simple shift for her to start looking at these conversations as quote-unquote Needs Assessment calls which they are you get to choose right you could call it whatever you want in her mind a needs assessment call which this is you’re going in and talking to a prospective client about their challenges and really trying to understand what their needs might be and assessing that which is something you do as a matter of course as a consultant mostly and she had done hundreds of these if not 1000s in her career. So when I asked her I said Look Look let’s just look at this as this isn’t a sales call like you You know what do we associate with selling it’s like I need to have a great elevator pitch and I need to convince quote-unquote convince someone that this is the right choice. Of course, that’s going to feel awkward and hard. When you look at it as this is a needs assessment call I’m going in there, it shifts the dynamic. Think about it for yourself what it for her it was really you know, we dove into this and really a lot of detail. And she shared that it really helped her to shift into confidence into feeling more leisurely and into curiosity. So different than that weird kind of inadequate and awkward, awkward feeling she was getting from thinking about this like a sales call. that shift can be so easy. Now you have to believe it. We’re not trying to trick you into some kind of positive thinking here. But at the same time, getting your arms around the way you even think about this process. And if thinking about it, as a sales call, puts you into that lane, like most like it does most independent consultants to feel weird and tentative and unsure of yourself, the easiest thing to do is start looking at this as something different, like a needs assessment call that you’ve done over and over and over again in your career. And it lifts that self-doubt as a result of such a simple reframing. Okay, let’s dive into the third example here. The third way that I see so many independent consultants, and this might be used to sabotage their sales process, is thinking you’re selling yourself. So I’ll give you another example from one of my clients, my independent consulting business owner, clients will call him, John. So let me just walk you through what happened. And then I’ll tell you how it was a mindset issue, not a strategy issue, and then how to how reframed it. So John had a need to set well, let’s go forward and call them Needs Assessment meetings, he had a needs assessment meeting with a potential consulting client. And he went into that call with a subconscious belief, which we later uncovered. But you know, just running on autopilot, his belief about himself is that he’s bad at selling himself. I hear this from so many of you, you may very well be in the same bucket, thinking I’m not good at selling myself. And it felt so true for him. And he could tell me and later, you know, as we were coaching together, he gave me all this evidence like, well, here are all these examples about how I’m bad at selling myself. Here are all these past scenarios of where I’ve been bad at myself. It’s just a fact, Melisa, that I’m bad at selling myself.


And so as we started digging in, we realized that there are really two ways you can approach this, we could argue about whether or not you’re good at selling yourself, and I guarantee if I had gone down that path with him, we could find a lot of examples where he was great at selling himself, he just has trained his brain to go look for the evidence of how he’s not good at selling himself. But that’s not the path we took, we took that path of, let’s just talk about it, are you really selling yourself here, you could be really bad at selling yourself. And it doesn’t even matter. Because at the end of the day, you’re not selling yourself. If you look at this process, this business development process, this process of acquiring a new client, however, you want to frame it, at the end of the day, you are selling a solution. No one wants to buy you, no one wants to buy me no one wants to buy our time really unless you’re selling yourself as a staff augmentation type of a resource, which is what we’re not trying to do here. What they want to buy is a solution is an outcome is this set of benefits is someone like you who’s an expert in helping them overcome a problem and advance whatever it is they’re trying to achieve. You’re not selling yourself at all, and neither was John. As we started looking at this and diving into it further and really helping him to see you know, what, let me just take myself out of this equation entirely. And look that I am looking at it in the sense of I am selling a solution, a benefit and outcome that I’m really curious to figure out what it is that they want. And I you know, I’m not selling myself here, he was able to make that shift mentally, from the place of feeling pressure and inadequacy that are to figure out how to get better at selling myself. And moving into the ability to just demonstrate his skills of consulting by walking that potential client through a needs assessment processes solution design type of a process that wasn’t a quote-unquote sales process at all. It was just him figuring out what kind of outcomes and benefits and so is the solution to get those that he would recommend. He just happened to be the facilitator of that in the business, you know, in the business development process, and ultimately the facilitator of it after that client, you know, sign on the sign the Statement of Work So this helped put John in this element in his element, right, where he’s stopped thinking about selling himself and started thinking about making this into an experience of what it’s like to get value and results and outcomes from him. So the reframe here is you’re not selling yourself, your take yourself out of the equation, I guarantee you sold. Most likely you’ve sold things on behalf of your, you know, of your corporate company in the past, whether you are the quote-unquote salesperson or not, you might have been the subject matter expert who was helping the salesperson sell, you might have been on the operation side delivering, which requires selling all the time, right, when you’re trying to get clients corporate, incorporate trying to make change happen, that could require sales, you have a background in selling things, you’re not selling you when you do that, you know, when it’s for on behalf of your company, you probably aren’t falling into these traps of feeling weird or bad at it. So think about it in that same way you’re not selling yourself. It’s just like past experiences where you had where you were becoming, you know, a subject matter expert or some role that where you were getting buy-in and influencing change. That is what we’re talking about here. Getting yourself into that mindset that you’re not selling yourself and that you’ve done this before. And you’re able to walk someone through to really understand what it is they want, why they want it, and how you can help them get it.


So it’s so important to get into this productive frame of mind before you go on to one of these meetings. So that you can really lead your client through and not get in your own way by thinking about yourself. So those are the three mindset traps that I see. So often. Let’s just pull this together now. Do you see how your mindset about selling can make or break you, when you have thoughts or a frame of mind that cause you to seize up or feel awkward or uncertain or tentative or inadequate, of course, it’s going to be hard for you to manage a conversation with a potential client and move that forward to the point where you start, you know where they were they execute a contract with you and you start working? On the flip side, when you show up as competent and clear and certain and curious, you’re able to move them through that process. That’s the shift. Those are the shifts to be able to get yourself from uncertain and inadequate and tentative into clear and certain and curious and confident. And that shift comes from the way you’re thinking about yourself, the way you’re thinking about your potential client, and the way you’re thinking about the process. So let’s let me just share with you as we wrap this up that three-step process, based on what I just described to you, the first thing you’re going to want to do as you’re prepping for one of these, we’re calling them Needs Assessment meetings now, not sales calls. When you are prepping for that type of a process, you’re going to want a brainstorming number Step one is to just brainstorm what you’re thinking both about yourself and about that potential client. And thirdly, about the process. So that’s step one, just get it all out on paper, just because you write it down doesn’t make it true. We’re just trying to get all of those things out of your subconscious because if you’re not aware of them, they end up running the show, kind of like those cockroaches we talked about last week. Then the second step is just really noticing how you’re feeling. Are you feeling doubt or awkward or unsure or uncertain? Based on all of that thinking? Or are you feeling confident and certain and curious? Like just really use that as a temperature check here when you’re thinking about this particular needs assessment call? And then finally, work on reframing whatever it is that’s creating that doubt or the weirdness or the awkwardness for you. Like the examples I just gave you. You want to make sure that when you’re reframing it, one tip that I want to share with you is to make sure it’s believable. We’re not trying to just shift into positive thinking. That’s not what we’re doing here. What we’re trying to shift into is believable, productive thinking that creek generates a different emotional state for you. So you’re gonna have to do some testing around this, to see how how the linkage between what you’re thinking, and how you’re feeling really comes together in order to make you as effective as possible in these needs assessment type calls. All right. So that is what I have for you today. If you want some help figuring out how to apply this for you and your business. Reach out, you can book a consult with me at consultmelisa.com. Grab a spot on my calendar, we can talk about where you’re getting stuck in your business and figure out a plan to move forward. And then if coaching might be a good fit within that plan. We’ll talk about that as well. So we can decide mutually if it’s a good fit to work together. All right, so that’s at consultmelisa.com. I appreciate you tuning in today and I will see you again next week. Take care.

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