How to Become a Professional Business Consultant and Promote Client Happiness!

by Chris C. Ducker · 27 comments

Chris Ducker - Consultant & CoachI’ve lived here in the Philippines for 12-years. But, being in Asia hasn’t stopped me from doing business with people outside of the country as a professional business consultant and coach.

In fact, over the last few years alone, I’ve worked with close to 100 consultation clients from all around the world – with 95% of my business being done outside of the country that I live in. Amazing, isn’t it?!

I’m pretty up front with the fact that I’m based here. In fact, it’s actually seen as a bonus most of the time, because of the industry that I’m in. Both my call center company and my virtual staffing agency definitely benefit from the fact that I am based here, as I’m seen as a thought leader in the niche and someone with a good reputation to do business with when it comes to working with a startup business consultant directly – instead of just going through one of the many business consultant companies out there – some of which are just not worth their weight at all.

As some of you may know, the biggest inspiration for creating content on this site is YOU, the readers. I get some many great emails, tweets and Facebook messages that I rarely have to scratch around for ideas on content creation (thankfully!). Recently I’ve gotten a handful of questions around the subject of setting yourself up as an international business consultant, or even someone that is more of a marketing consultant for small business owners.  Along with some tips on how I work with my own coaching clients, too.

So, I thought I’d focus in on this a little, and let you know how I feel on the subject and pass on a few tips and ideas that work well for me. All good? Cool.

You’re Client Doesn’t Care Where YOU Are!

First up, make the decision to either be very upfront about your location, or simply don’t mention it at all. As I mentioned, I am very upfront about my location – check out my location on my Twitter header image below.

Chris Ducker on Twitter - in the Philippines!

If you’re upfront about it, your clients will know in advance of contacting you (more often than not), and everything will be easier. If you want to keep it quiet, or perhaps you move around so much that it would be tough to keep things updated all the time, then simply don’t draw attention to your location, at all. You can usually reply to inquiries and what not with a simple “I’m out of town…”, or “I’m traveling on business…”.

Even though they may be paying for your time (and some business consultant fees can go into the thousands of dollars per hour price range!), most of your clients won’t care where in the world you are – only what you can provide them as a business development consultant. Again, if you’re upfront with your location, setting up your calls, etc., will be easier.

However, ultimately, they are the boss! They’re paying YOU, for your time. So, it’s up to you, or your VA, to work out the time differences (be careful here – clocks move regularly!) and set a time that’s good for both parties – prioritization being attributed to your client, naturally.

When setting up call times, etc., there’s no need to say things like “I’ll call you at 2pm PST…”. Just simply say “I’ll call you at 2pm…”. That’s the timezone they work on. When they book tickets to a movie, they don’t say to their date “I’ll pick you up at 7pm EST, sweetheart…!!!”. Simple, but it’s the little things that make the difference here.

Be Professional. Duh!

Never be late for a call.

Never cancel or postpone a call (unless your arm is falling off, or something!).

NEVER talk about your own projects, etc., on a call – unless your client specifically asks for examples of how you’ve used similar tactics that you’re conversing with them on, in your own business / marketing.

Always Record Your Calls

As some that is hired pretty regularly as a small business marketing consultant, one of the things I do all the time is use call recorder with Skype to record all of the calls I do as a business coach, for my clients. I don’t tell them I am doing it – and then at the end of the call, I say “Oh, by the way, as an added benefit for my clients, I like to provide a recording of our call, so that they can go back and listen over the conversation again in the future, before taking action…”. It’s a pleasant surprise at the end of our time together and they ALWAYS love it!

Do likewise.

Icing on the Consultation Cake

Being prepared and looking super interested (ah, you should be, anyway!) in what your client is all about, where they live, etc., can really put the icing on the cake for your client. And makes for a great referral source, too! Here’s a list of additional things you can do to make your client smile – no matter how much distance there is between the two of you!

  • Read their last couple of blog posts and mention them at a good time on your call.
  • Check out the local news headlines for their city.
  • Have a look at the weather report for their city, and slip it into conversation.
  • Study their Twitter stream – what have they been talking about recently? WHO have they been talking to?!
  • Do they use gadgets? If so, chat briefly about them. We are VERY attached to our gadgets and love to talk about what we do with them and how they work their way into our lives.
  • Always stay away from religion (even if you know you ‘believe’ in the same thing).
  • Always stay away from politics (even if you’re on the same side).

The Follow-Up is More Important than ANYTHING ELSE!

After your coaching session, leave it a month or so, and reach out to your client. Doesn’t matter how – just stay in touch. Email, Facebook , a quick Tweet – just reach out, stay connected and see how they’re doing.

I have several coaching clients that found me via this site and continue to read my blog, and I sincerely hope that they back me up (by commenting below – yes, that’s a hint, guys!) on this and say that I’ve always done this one thing – the most important part of the consultation process as far as I’m concerned – showing that you CARE.

So, there you have it, some quick tips on being a great consultant, or coach… Helpful?

Do you consult with clients regularly? Have any tips to share? Are you wanting to start off your consultation career, but have questions that need answers? Cool – comment below and I’ll answer ‘em of you!

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex B. (@DreamJobGuy) November 29, 2012 at 11:48

Fantastic tips, Chris!

A lot of times, it’s the small things that can end up having a HUGE impact! I especially like the tips about getting to know things about the client (local news, review their twitter feed, etc..) prior to the call so that the client can easily see that you’re extremely interested in them!

Thanks again for the great tips!

All the best,
-Alex

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Chris C. Ducker November 29, 2012 at 12:07

Glad you liked the post, Alex, and appreciate the comment.

Let me know if you need help on anything, if you’re going to go down this road yourself, okay!?

Keep rockin’.

C

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Billy Murphy November 29, 2012 at 12:43

Great idea about recording calls. Do any clients get upset that they didn’t know they were being recorded?

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Chris C. Ducker November 29, 2012 at 13:47

Nope.

Never!
:-)

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Andrew Minalto November 29, 2012 at 13:21

Hey Chris!

I’m a consultant in eCommerce/eBay field so pretty much get 100% what you’re talking about in this post! :-) I have also coached 100+ people over the last few years.

Luckily for me, these are 8-9 week long programs with each person, so we’re becoming real friends over this period. (some chat sessions are usually postponed by customers dues to various reasons so effectively we’re working together for at least 3 months with one weekly chat session).

As for sharing my person business – maybe it’s the niche I’m working in or so BUT my clients actually WANT to talk a lot about my businesses, they want to hear how I started out etc. And I totally get it – they need details, they need motivation!

I usually don’t share my websites/eBay shops with my customers (to protect my businesses) but when I do – people get so motivated! They really want to see that their dreams are achievable!

I personally don’t use calls at all – all y programs are text chat based – we use gMail Chat, Skype or MSN. This way it’s much easier to share links, images, screen shots + customers get written chat history saved so they can look back any time they want.

Keep up the good work Chris, LOVE the design of your new blog! :-)

Andrew

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Chris C. Ducker November 29, 2012 at 20:11

Hi Andrew

Thanks for the additional insights on this topic – glad to see you’ve had lots of success. A little different to the way I consult, but, hey – as long as people are getting value, that’s all that matters, right…?!

Glad you like the site, too – much appreciated.

C

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Momekh November 29, 2012 at 14:25

Great pointers Chris.
Thanks for writing transparently.

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Chris C. Ducker November 29, 2012 at 20:10

No problems, Momekh.

Appreciate you dropping by and enjoying the blog.

Cheers.

C

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Deacon Bradley November 30, 2012 at 02:45

Great tips Chris! The follow-up one is especially important in my opinion. It seems that’s a rare skill these days, and can really make a huge impression! I use Highrise CRM and schedule tasks to remind me to follow-up with certain people. Makes it easy :)

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Chris C. Ducker November 30, 2012 at 18:27

Highrise is great, Deacon. And the fact that its web-based obviously means you can grab the info ANYWHERE – which I love!

Glad you liked the tips.

Stay tuned.

C

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Nate Anglin December 1, 2012 at 11:37

Dang, I never looked into Highrise. We use Salesforce now and the integration into Constant Contact is great because you can see which campaigns the clients have interacted with right in SF. But then again, $49.99 for up to 15 user…I’ve been robbed with SF, lol. It will be hard to switch, but it may be worth the effort since we don’t use all the fancy SF options.

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Chris C. Ducker December 1, 2012 at 18:11

For me SF has always been overkill. I don’t know, maybe I’m not creative enough – but, I like to keep things simple and EFFECTIVE.

Additional bells and whistles just tend to get in the way as far as I’m concerned.

Thanks for dropping by, Nate.

C

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Michael Kawula November 30, 2012 at 06:54

Great post and love the tip of sending the recording. Thats a nice added touch! Curious what you’ve used to record if the other party doesn’t have use Skype?

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Chris C. Ducker November 30, 2012 at 18:24

Hi Michael

Actually, I use exactly the same software.

If you call via Skype, to either Skype or any other ‘real’ phone number, you can still record the call. So, it works exactly the same.

Glad you enjoyed the post!

C

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Todd Nielsen December 1, 2012 at 00:53

Thanks for this insightful post. I have done a lot of coaching over the years but I don’t feel I am expert at the art of coaching and one of my goals for the next year is to increase my coaching abilities to share my message more effectively and help people have greater success. Can you recommend any other resources to help one improve the art of coaching; either books, blogs or anything else? Are there any other tools (Software, hardware, services) you find helpful in scheduling, following-up with people and just generally making the experience better?

Thanks Chris!

Best,
Todd Nielsen

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Chris C. Ducker December 1, 2012 at 18:21

Hey Todd

Check out http://www.actioncoach.com/ it’s a great resource.

As far as tools, I use Evernote to collect research on my clients and then collate everything together before my calls. That’s about it.

Te secret is in the preparation! ;-)

Hope that helps and glad you enjoyed the post.

C

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Natalie Sisson December 1, 2012 at 01:58

Great post Chris. I always record my calls and send follow up notes straight after to show my clients I care, I’m organized, to keep it fresh of mind. I also schedule in call backs so I follow up with them after one week or two to see where they got to with their action points. All of these things make a difference, but ultimately giving your all as a coach and finding the nuggets of wisdom your clients need to hear to move forward is the most important aspect, and honor, of being a coach

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Chris C. Ducker December 1, 2012 at 18:14

Absolutely, Natalie.

And lets face it, it’s not the recordings or the follow ups that our clients are paying for.

It’s those nuggets!!!

Thanks for dropping by and sharing.

C

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OKECHUKWU AGUOCHA December 1, 2012 at 11:05

Thanks Chris for your writing unreservedly and impactfully.Keep it up man.

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Chris C. Ducker December 1, 2012 at 18:13

Thanks, buddy.

Really appreciate the words of kindness.

C

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Nate Anglin December 1, 2012 at 11:32

Chris,

I can relate to this on a non-consulting basis but the guidelines are still there. My corporation, http://www.Skylinkintl.com, does 95% of their business internationally. Being a commercial aviation firm, the industry never sleeps so it’s not only crucial to be flexible with other schedules but available at almost any moment. What I’m getting at is you need to try to work around your clients schedule, especially if theirs distance involved. This can be hard if your time is booked, but the effort goes a long way. To many people are dismissive of this and the client goes elsewhere.

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Chris C. Ducker December 1, 2012 at 18:12

Boom!!!

Smart words from another smart reader of my blog. You are exactly the type of person I create content for, Nate.

Keep rockin’.

C

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Sam Wilson December 2, 2012 at 00:07

Hi Chris/All

Yes, I am one of your clients and yes, you have been very good in getting back in touch regularly and even answering additional questions via email etc.

What I liked about our call the most, however, is that you gave me an additional 20 minutes to talk more. Maybe I caught you on a day when you were not that busy. But you never mentioned it and that impressed me.

Thank you.

Sam

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Chris C. Ducker December 2, 2012 at 13:12

Hey Sam

Thanks for the kind words!

Hope all is good with you and yours. And don’t forget to update me on that plugin project you were working on!

No rush – when you get time.

C

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Mike From Maine December 5, 2012 at 17:38

Chris,

I like how you provide the call recording for the clients. It’s those little extras that can really go a long way.

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Chris C. Ducker December 6, 2012 at 00:32

That’s the deal, Mike, you’re right.

And it’s ALWAYS the little things that make the difference in the long run.

Thanks for dropping by.

C

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Austin Hodge January 5, 2013 at 04:36

Loved the article!

You squeezed in a lot of great information and thoughts in there regarding your own set of best practices. I found the part about recording calls particularly interesting as it has been a hotly debated subject within my own small business consulting start up of three guys. We understood the value of recording a call, for both ours and the client’s sake, but were divided as to the reception it would receive. Thank you so much for settling that issue for us!

Best wishes in 2013!
Austin Hodge

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