EP05: Get Better Results & Profit More With Transformational Engagements

On the Profitable Joyful Consulting podcast, I teach you how to increase your profits and enjoy your business more. In this week’s episode, you’ll learn how to use what I call “transformational engagements” to deliver more value, get better results and finally get off the revenue roller coaster in your consulting business.

When I first started as a consultant, I was frustrated because I would go in and do a project to solve a particular problem. Like most consultants, I’d work on a project basis, whether from six months to an ongoing basis.

That’s all well and good! But my frustration was that I would solve these problems, then go away and come back to ask, “Hey, can I follow up with you? I want to hear how things are going.” A lot of times the organizations would say, “What? We’ve moved on. We’ve actually kind of forgotten about that.”

In short, my work didn’t get implemented. It was my fault for not staying on long enough to do this, but the clients would drop the ball and not implement.

 

“Shift the way you look at your work from quick-solving problems to providing strategically relevant long-term results to your clients.”

This was sometimes because organizational priorities changed and sometimes because it was just too hard and they didn’t want to admit to me that implementing the work wasn’t happening. But I was not going to stand for that.

A little while later, I began to create offers and conduct my work in such a way that I could better ensure that the results of the work the client and I did together would stick.

So how do you get client results to stick?

The answer is transformational engagements. In this episode, you’ll find out what a transformational engagement is and how it differs from the way you’re working now. You’ll also learn:

  • How to get client results to stick
  • The types of work you need to do to get off the revenue rollercoaster and create consistent income
  • Exactly how to pitch this kind of high-ticket transformational work to your clients
  • How my clients have transitioned to working this way and how you can, too

 

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Get Better Results & Profit More With Transformational Engagements

I wanted to spend a little time talking about that. What exactly is a transformational engagement? The origin of it is very much the opposite. When I first started as a consultant, I was super frustrated because I would go in and do some projects. Most consultants work on a project basis. Whether it’s from six months to ongoing, they work on these projects. It’s about solving a very specific problem, which is fine. My frustration was that when I would solve these problems, I would go away and come back and say, “Can I follow up with you and hear how things are going?”

A lot of times, the organizations would be like, “We’ve moved on. We forgot about that.” In short, it didn’t get implemented. It is my fault for not staying on long enough to do this, but the clients would drop the ball and wouldn’t implement it. Either organizational priorities changed, or maybe it was too hard and they didn’t want to admit that to me that implementing the work wasn’t happening. I was not going to stand for that. A little while later, I began to create offers and conduct my work in such a way that I could better ensure that the results of the work that the client and I did together would stick.

How do you get client results to stick? We’re going to talk about that in this episode. The other thing that I want to talk about is this syndrome of the revenue roller coaster. Many consultants experience this when they do project work because they go in for a short term. A lot of times while they’re working on a short-term assignment, they forget to do any marketing, so when they’re done with that assignment, they have to scramble to find new clients.

That results in the revenue roller coaster, which means a lot of revenues are one month, not so much to the next, back up the next month, and down. This is instability in revenue flow. Transformational engagement is something that can solve all of these at once, allowing you to do your best work for the clients and helping you to have a sustainable revenue flow. One of my clients came to me a few years ago and said, “Here’s my situation, I go in and work with a client. I’ll do a $15,000 engagement. I’ll go away. They’ll call me back for $30,000 and then I go away, and then I come back for $25,000.” Over the course of the year, they might do several engagements for that client, but they’re kind of disjointed. I call those transactional.

The great thing is you have some clients’ loyalty there, but the downside is you don’t get to see projects weave together and how they contribute to the larger objectives of the company. What I ask my clients to do is sit down with a client when they are sharing with you what a situation is. Before you say, “We can come in and laser beam focus on the specific problem and give you a solution to it in eight weeks,” first ask, “Do you mind if we zoom out and take a look at your objectives where you want to go with your company so we can see how this particular project would fit into the overall company objectives?”

Very often, a client will be surprised and delighted by a question like that and want to share with you the overall company objectives and allow you to weave your own vision into how you can help them to achieve that. Once my clients started doing that, they were able to say, “Instead of coming in and doing several small projects in a role, how about we zoom out and create a plan for how our work can help you to achieve your goals?” We then began to work longer term with the clients. For example, a year, and help them to not just complete the work that we’ve given them but to implement and ensure the implementation of it sticks. Thereby getting them transformational results.

That’s the difference between a transaction and a transformation. I’ve always said that real organizational change takes a minimum of a year to happen. I have clients who are selling in 3 to 5-year engagements and longer because they’re working on these kinds of problems that are deep-seated issues with companies that take a long time to solve. I have a mentor who says that, “Is there any problem that a company has that takes longer than 30 days to solve it?” That’s a real problem, but 30 days is how long it can take to find a solution to a problem, but to implement the plans that are going to work that solution throughout the organization takes a lot longer.

Profitable Joyful Consulting | Transformational Engagements

Transformational Engagements: Real organizational change takes a minimum of a year to happen.

 

I might decide, “We lack middle management or we need to retain our high-potential people.” We can put in place the plan. We can figure out how to do that, but implementing that plan and making that happen is going to take a minimum of a year. That is the opportunity for a transformational engagement. What I hope it does for you shift the way you look at your work from coming in and solving problems to coming in and providing strategically relevant long-term results to your clients.

One of the ways that I first did this was by working with a small community bank that asked me to come in and help them. Normally, I would have done an 8 to 12-week project where we come up with a brand and marketing plan. I show them how to implement it and then I go. I’d seen enough of these where I didn’t feel like they were thriving during the implementation phase that I said, “How about instead of that, I will stay with you for a year, I’ll work with you for a year while we discover what the plan is and implement that plan?” The investment will be $60,000. This was several years ago.

Even then, for the client that was a sticker shock of an investment, what I found out later was that I had a competitor who was putting in a bid for that same work who had offered to do it for $15,000. What the bank president told me later was, “When we saw their price compared to your price, we realized that they hadn’t understood the scope and the magnitude of this work.” If you’re ever wondering whether the low price always wins or if you think that proposing work the way you think is the right way to do it is going to cause you to lose a proposal, keep in mind that story.

I’ve seen many times that a robust offer makes it clear to the client that you understand the challenges and how to get them done, that wins over low bidder very often. As you’re looking at your own business, I want you to consider what are the ways in which the current work you’re doing is transactional and how you can transform that into offering transformational engagements to your clients. It doesn’t mean you never offer any smaller packages. We can always have ways that the client can work with us for a shorter term so that we can each have an experience of each other.

 

A robust offer makes it clear to the client that you understand the challenges and how to get them done.

 

A lot of times, that can be an assessment phase where you can solve the problem and show them what the problem and what the scope of resolving that would be before you offer to do the transformational aspect of the work. I want to share the results a couple of my clients have had with this. One of my clients went from charging $125 an hour to offering transformational engagements. What I helped her to do was exactly what we’re talking about, go in and say, “Where do you want to take the company?” She’s working on people issues, “How do your people contribute to this? What do you want to see happen to them?”

She offers this year-long plan to get them there that she will help them to implement and then she does that. Those engagements have ranged in the beginning from $60,000 all the way now to running about $50,000 per month. You can see that the magnitude of the work is much more. What I appreciate so much about that is that your coming off of the revenue roller coaster makes you a better version of yourself. You as the consultant don’t need to be worried so much about revenues and you’re being honored for the work that you’re doing, which is this transformational work.

The client is getting results that stick and getting longer lasting outcomes because the way you’re structuring the work is providing them the support that they need, and all of us do not pretend that they can achieve those results simply by having the plan in hand. I like things that are for the highest good of all concerned. In this case, it supports you to do your best work with a scope of engagement that allows you to dig and get work done, and it helps them get lasting results. This client has also done something else. She and I looked at the ways that her clients needed to work on the goals that they had and how they needed to implement them.

What this client has done as well, we looked at her clients and the way that she needs to work with them in order to help them achieve what they’re trying to achieve. She’s beginning to create signature systems and proprietary processes that she uses with them to achieve these results. The first system that she discovered while working with her clients is codified. She’s had another two that have resulted from that.

The way that she’s working now is to basically roll out these systems within her clients, and that can take anywhere from 3 to 5 years. The interesting way that this happens in a pitch meeting is to say, “Based on where you want to take your company, what I would propose that we do is over the next 3 to 5 years, do this. Specifically, in year one, what we would do is this.” You see how we take the timeline of this from a very short project to saying, “Over the arc of the next 3 to 5 years, here’s what’s going to happen.”

Even if the client doesn’t say yes to the whole five-year thing at once, it’s easier for them to say yes to a one-year thing. You’ve put the one-year thing in the context of the longer term. Talking with clients about transformational engagement helps them to engage in a conversation that is more strategic. It’s more connected to their overall business goals, and it’s a realistic conversation because it displays to them your knowledge of how long these things take and what kind of effort it takes. A lot of times, it will snap an organization back to its senses when it realizes, “This can’t be done in the timeline we think it can be done.” This isn’t a six-month project. This is a new way of working for our business and a new set of behaviors that we as an organization need to internalize.

 

Talking with clients about transformational engagement helps them to engage in a conversation that is more strategic.

 

I’m doing these episodes during the pandemic. I hope that they’ll live on to a time when we don’t have to be worried about these things. A lot of consultants are feeling constriction during this time period and they may say, “This would be great when the economy is back to normal, but now, nobody’s working this way.” What I want you to know is that if you have a service that is relevant, timely, and solves a problem that they have now, they will say yes to a transformational engagement.

For example, I have clients who are IT consultants. They were having huge problems because they were building by the hour, which is very common for that profession. Therefore, they are never able to plan out their work accordingly. What they did was they went back to the clients. They said, “We’re building you all this. It is difficult for us to plan our work. Sometimes you need a lot of people. Sometimes you need fewer people. Can we zoom out and talk to you about what your goals are overall so that we can put in place a plan to deliver that to you?”

When the client gives them that information, my client puts together exactly how they’re going to help them achieve that and sold a $480,000 one-year engagement. That’s during a pandemic. I want you to know. Don’t put external constraints on yourself. Think about, “What’s the biggest transformation that my client needs now? What are they needing? How can I give that to them so that they’re supported in getting those results and having them be long-lasting?”

Profitable Joyful Consulting | Transformational Engagements

Transformational Engagements: Transformational engagements are a great way to secure your business to make it more sustainable and deliver better results to your clients while keeping yourself off of the revenue roller coaster.

 

This is a great way to secure your business to make it more sustainable and deliver better results to your clients while keeping yourself off of the revenue roller coaster. If you’d like to know more about creating transformational engagements for your business, feel free to get in touch with me. Until next time, I wish you a profitable and joyful consulting business.

 

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