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.
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!
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!