1. Keep asking “Why?” to find the buyer’s larger objectives. “We need a developmental program (Why?) because our sales need improvement (Why?) because we want to become the industry leader.” The last goal has far more value than the first.
2. Stop asking permission, except rhetorically (“May I suggest a bolder approach?”). Peers don’t ask permission, they make suggestions.
3. Don’t ever assume money is an issue. There is always money. The only question is whether you constitute enough of a priority for the buyer to give it to you.
4. You can always make another dollar, but you can’t make another minute. Focus on the next date, time, and accountability. Never accept, “We’ll get back to you” or “Let’s talk again in the spring.”
5. If you don’t blow your own horn there is no music. If you can’t be passionate and dedicated about the value you’re bringing, then why should the buyer? If you can’t honestly tell me you’re the best person for the job, then why should I think you are?
6. Remember that your project is current business but referrals are your future business, and they are equally important. Every client has this duality of value for you. Plumb both.
7. The natural progression is a project or a series of projects leading to retainers so that access to your “smarts” is always available. Don’t read too much about how to “disengage.” Read about how to perpetuate client relationships.
8. Learn to reject acceptance. You do not want to waste your time in human resources, learning and development, training, or other support positions, except as a route to the real buyer. No matter how much they embrace you, run for the “up” stairway.
9. Think of yourself as someone who improves the client condition, and can do so by consulting, coaching, training, facilitating, writing, speaking, and so on. If you see yourself merely as a methodology conduit (“I’m a teambuilding retreat facilitator”) you might as well lower your future expectations right now.