EP12: Delivering Client Work With Ease

On the Profitable Joyful Consulting podcast, I teach you how to increase your profits and enjoy your business more. In this episode, you’ll learn how to deliver client work with ease.

Ted is frustrated by clients who always want to see him in person. The travel there and back eats up valuable time he could be spending elsewhere. And many times the meetings could be done remotely or even by email. 

When Beth lands big new engagements, she’s excited, but then it sinks in just how much work she now needs to do. From coordinating meetings to designing workshops to outlining new process models to convey key messages … she loves some of it, but it’s still a LOT. 

There IS a way to deliver work more efficiently so that the clients get amazing results but you don’t have to put in so much effort. When you do, you’ll find fewer hours spent means the work is more profitable, and focusing on the right things will mean you’re more joyful as well. 

In this episode of the Profitable Joyful Consulting podcast, you’ll learn: 

  • How to use your Joy & Genius Zone™ to determine what you should work on (and what you should hand off)
  • 4 key ways to make delivering client work so much easier
  • How to take leadership with your clients to help them get the best results possible
  • The one phrase you can say to help your clients understand how best to work with you
  • The #1 delegation trick you need to free up your time and energy

Your clients need you, and we don’t want you to burn out. Listen to this episode to learn how to deliver amazing work to your clients with ease wherever you get podcasts or click here to listen and subscribe: https://enlightenedmarketing.com/podcast/

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Delivering Client Work With Ease

This is our 12th episode and I’m considering the end of the first season. My intention with the first season was to cover the fundamentals. I’ll be back at the beginning of season two. I’ll share with you at that time what I’m deciding to present in season two. I asked my Facebook group called Profitable Joyful Consulting what they wanted this final episode to be about given that I’d covered these other topics and the fundamentals. What they said was low-effort delivery. It means being able to deliver work to clients with ease.

The Genius Zone And The Joy Zone

I wanted to share with you a concept that I think is amazing for thinking about what you should be doing in your business and how you can make it easier, as well as the four ways that you can make delivery so much easier for yourself. First is this concept. You’re familiar I’m sure with the genius zone. This is a term that’s been popularized online. I think Dan Sullivan from Strategic Coach might have invented this term. I’ve always thought that the genius zone was a great concept. It’s the thing that you do that you’re the best at in all the world. It comes so easily to you. You don’t even feel like you’re working.

For a lot of people, the genius zone can be amazing at something but it can be depleting for them to do it. For example, I’m a strong writer. I would consider it as one of the areas of my genius zone but if I write for too long, as I write, it depletes me. It’s an area that takes away energy rather than gives it to me. By contrast, working on strategy with a client is something I can do all day long. I’ll do it all day long when I’m on a VIP date with a client. We talked about strategy and ideas. We plan out their business. It’s a genius zone, but it also gives me energy.

I think that distinction is key here. I added based on one of my values for my business the idea of the joy zone. The joy zone is when you’re looking at things that either deplete or give you energy as you do them. I’m not saying that joy is exclusively energy, but the thing that makes me joyful is I have fun doing it and I feel expanded doing it. There’s a lot more to say about the joy and genius zones that we’ll get into now.

If you think about the things that you’re doing in business as things that are your best at, then you should definitely be the one doing it. Also, it gives you energy as opposed to draining you. If there’s something like writing, I do write for my business. I keep it to a minimum and I do it at very strategic times when I have a lot of energy. For example, those strategy calls, I do them after I’ve done the writing because they give me the energy that the writing has taken away from me.

 

If you think about the things that you’re doing in business as things that are your best at, then you should definitely be the one doing it.

 

That’s a way for you to begin to think about the joy and genius zone. Specifically, what is your joy and genius zone? What are the activities that you do in your business that you’re like, “I wouldn’t give these away for anything. I can do them better, usually faster, and more efficiently than anyone else in my business and I want to do these. I want to keep these, at least, for right now. You might decide to let go of some of them later but at least for right now, I definitely want to hang on to these activities.

Also, think about the opposite. The things that are not your genius zone and are not joyful. What are those things that you feel like you should or could let go of? When people tell me that their work is too high effort, the client work that they’re doing, or any work that they’re doing in their business is too high effort, what it tells me is that too much of what they’re doing is not in their joy and genius zone.

This is what I’m going to unpack for you in this episode. What should you be doing? What should you let go of, and how do you know? There are some reasons that client delivery work is so onerous. One of the big ones is having to travel. I think the pandemic which we’re still in as of the recording of this episode is showing us how much of our work can be done remotely. In many cases, there have been businesses that collapsed because they couldn’t deliver the work remotely.

For a lot of consultants who are in the advice business, we even collaborate through video conferencing and tools like that. Even though in many cases it’s a pale imitation of what we would do together in person, it does show us how much we have been relying on face-to-face communication to do things that could have been done remotely. I’m sure you’ve heard this expression, “This meeting should have been an email.”

I’ve been plenty of times in a meeting where I feel like someone could have just sent an email and informed people we didn’t have to take all of that time to get together. This is true of your work with your clients. Many of my clients are grounded from travel and that has given them more time. During that time, luckily, they didn’t all fill that with more client work. It gives them time to work on their businesses and think about how they want their businesses to be.

Leading The Client

We almost had everything taken away from us with this pandemic, so what do we want to create and how do we want the business to be? A lot of times, doing the actual client work takes too darn long. What is taking so long with it? Let’s look at four ways that you can reduce the amount of time that you’re spending delivering the work to the clients and also make it more joyful. The first thing that I want you to look at and the first way that you can reduce effort is by leading the client.

Clients will very often default to either what they’ve done with someone else or how they think it should be. That doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with you. It might not be your process, your way of doing things, or whatever. Because you think that the client has a specific idea, you fall in and go along with that. What I would prefer you do is to think about with the intention the create the experience you want to have and start the way you want to continue.

I’ve said this many times. If you begin to lead the client, as soon as they fill out a form to talk to you, respond. If they get on a call with you, very early in the relationship, you begin to lead the client. “Thanks for getting on this call. Here’s our agenda for this call.” Take leadership on your very first call with them. “Here’s how the call is going to go” or “Thanks for meeting with me. What I’d like to cover now is.” Taking leadership on calls and meetings of the working relationship is going to help you to create the relationship and the work experience that you want to have and that you know will benefit the client most.

Profitable Joyful Consulting | Delivering Client Work

Delivering Client Work: Leading your client will help you create the relationship and the work experience that you want to have and that you know will benefit the client most.

 

You’re the expert. You know how things should go. Very often, I find that people will say, “The client said, ‘Send me a proposal’ so I had to send them a proposal. No, you don’t. The client said, “We should meet on this about this,” and I just had to do it. No, you didn’t. You should say, “Here’s how this is going to go. We’re going to have these meetings and it’s going to work this way.”

I’m not saying that for you to be bossy of the client. I’m saying that because you should craft the experience for the highest good of all concerned. You should create a work experience that benefits everyone. A lot of times, people have work habits that don’t benefit everyone. One of the first things is strategic presence. One person in the Facebook group mentioned the idea of winning his clients off of him having to be in person all the time.

I’ve shared this with so many of my own clients who seem to be addicted to travel. There’s so much travel that they’re doing whether it’s local travel to be with a client in person or worse, when you’re having to travel across the country to be on site with a client. You do not need to be on-site for so much of the work. That’s old school. We have new ways of doing things now.

I don’t think it serves you. I’ll tell you one image I have is when you come into a project or an engagement to work with them and they go, “We cleared out this little office for you where you have this little cubicle. This will be your place to sit here.” As a consultant, one of the huge advantages that we have is this objectivity and this outsiderness.

There’s a cache for you in being the one who still is coming from outside to advise you. As soon as they give you a desk, you become part of the system and part of the problem. You lose the prestige factor or the specialness of you being on site with them. I want you to use what I call strategic presence. Only be on-site in person when you need to be. When do you need to be on-site and in person? At the kickoff. Probably at the signing of a contract but not necessarily. At the kickoff meeting, definitely get everybody on board, and on any of the specific interactive meetings.

A SWOT analysis, an assessment phase, or something like that, and possibly doing interviews but only if you’re doing group interviews or something like that. You’re hearing the examples I’m saying are times when it would be incredibly detrimental to try to do this remotely. Otherwise, you can be remote and get the same effect. Strategic presence is the kickoff meeting. Milestones along the way, the triumphant finale, presentation of results, presentation of information, the plan, and deciding of what the next steps are.

It’s those kinds of meetings that are pivotal and important. Milestone meetings are when you need to be on site. If something goes wrong, I would fly there. You want to pull something out of the fire if it needs to be pulled out of the fire. That’s a time when strategic presence is in your favor. Things can be solved in person better and more effectively than they can be done remotely. Don’t try to do that by email, please. At least, do a phone call if things go wrong.

A lot of times you get pushback of, “I will assume that you’ll be here for these six weeks and then you’ll do this thing and this thing.” If you have to do that, that’s fine but we’re trying to get to ease and delivery. We’re looking for any opportunity that you don’t have to be on-site. There’s an expression that I’ve taught my clients when someone says, “I thought you would be here. I thought you would do this. I thought you were billed by the hour.” You can say, “We don’t work that way.” It is that’s simple. “That’s not how we work. Here’s how we work.”

It doesn’t have to be cranky. It doesn’t have to be conflict. You can just be saying, “That’s not how we work. Here’s how we work.” Leading the client in the way that you work, using strategic presence, and teaching them how you’re going to work with them from the very beginning is going to help you to have a low-effort delivery because you know what’s best for the client, and how to best deliver that better than they know. You’re the expert. Use it.

Delegating

The second thing that I want you to look at is delegating. If it’s not in your joy and genius zone, it’s depleting you, so you should not do it. Many times, I’ll have clients who are thrilled by invoicing. “This is money coming in. Sending these invoices out is the funnest thing I do in my job.” Keep that if it’s rejuvenating for you, or the opposite is they’ll be three months behind on receivables because they hate invoicing and they don’t do it.

 

If it’s not in your joy and genius zone, it’s depleting you, so you should not do it.

 

What I want you to do is go through and make a list of the things that you’re like, “This gives me energy and I love to do it. I’m great at doing it. If that needs to be three lists, it’s fine. I want you to make a list of things that I would pay good money to never have to do again. Pay attention to what that is because there are people who will do these jobs for you. You can bring in team members. They don’t have to be full-time employees. You can bring team members who will do these jobs for you even if it’s something like strategic planning.

You can bring someone in who wants to do that and it doesn’t diminish you as a consultant. This is your cadre of experts that you bring in. Make sure that you are doing the things that fuel you and the things that you’re best at so you can delegate to other team members whether they’re admin people who are helping you keep the business running or other experts who can help you to create what you’re doing.

For example, if you’re doing e-learning or workshops and things like that, there are curriculum experts whose whole job is to figure out how to structure this thing and how to break this down for maximum learning. If that’s not your gift and your gift is the content of it but not the structuring of that content, then bring in an expert who can do that with you and who can lift you up and keep you in your own joy and genius zone.

I think this is super key. We’re delegating to our team and to peer experts that we bring in. You can delegate to the client. This is about leadership. Often, what is happening is that you’re taking on too much responsibility and you’re not allowing the clients to own the process. As we go through this process, whether it is marketing, planning, leadership development, or IT, every single one of these processes should involve people on their team. In some cases, you can give the whole thing to people on their team.

Back in my early days as a consultant, I would swoop in. I would do a brand plan. I would interview the clients. I would go away into my workshop and I would put together a brand plan. I would talk to them about a few more things. They go away in my workshop and come up with a marketing plan. I would give it to the clients and no wonder they had trouble implementing it. I would teach them. I would coach them and things like that, but I was still secretly away from them and created the thing.

Even as much as I had incorporated them in that process, it still wasn’t enough to get the results. Engagement might be $60,000. I’d go away and do my thing. I come back and present the thing. The results would be mixed because they hadn’t had enough participation or a stake in the creation of this. Later, I had an epiphany which was instead of I go away and do all the homework, the clients do the homework.

I would interact with them and in the same stage, I would normally go and do a hidden thing. I taught them the process that I was using. They did that so they developed the brand. They developed the marketing plan and then, the results were completely different. They’re transformationally different for the client because even the person who was most remote from the marketing department felt ownership of the marketing plan because he or she had had a part in developing it.

From my side, it was among the most profitable work that I ever did because instead of working 600 hours for $60,000, I worked about 60 hours for $60,000. That’s a much better use of my time. It allowed me to be a better version of myself and bring more of my genius to my clients. Think about the things that you’re doing, which of those can you delegate to the client?

Profitable Joyful Consulting | Delivering Client Work

Delivering Client Work: Think about the things that you’re doing, which of those can you delegate to the client?

 

Of all the scheduling, you can say, “Here’s what I’d like to do. Have someone from your team handle all the scheduling so they can connect with your people and connect with me and get that done so a lot of the admin can go away.” As far as the expertise that you’re doing, what part of your process can you not just involve the client in but empower them to do it themselves? This is knowledge transfer and a lot of consultants fear doing this.

If I teach them how to do it, then they will never need me again, but that’s not the case. Usually, if you teach them how to do it and they get a beneficial result, they want you back when they’re ready for the next level of work. I think that’s much more exciting than doing the same thing with clients over and over again. It’s like, “Where are you evolving to?” Think about what you can delegate to clients.

A Signature System

Many people will tell you if everything is too high effort, very often, it’s that you need more systems in your business. The core system that I’ll talk about today is to have a signature system. When people tell me that I have to find out what the client needs, I have to come up with this process, I have to design a workshop, and I have to do these things, what that tells me is they’re doing way too much custom work.

It behooves you to find your groove as far as the problems you solve and the solutions you deliver to create a system around that. You have a signature system or signature process and then do the same work over and over again so that the system stays the same. You’re basically doing the same work, but the thing that varies that makes it fun, exciting, and new every time is you’re applying this to different clients.

When I first started as a consultant, everybody said, “It’s a cookie-cutter process.” If you do this, we don’t do a cookie-cutter. We do a custom process. It’s custom every time for every client. At the time, that was in vogue and very popular to do that, but what I realized as a consultant myself over the years was a cookie-cutter, what it’s known for is getting the same result every single time. It gets a consistent cookie that looks like a gingerbread man every single time.

If I’m doing a custom thing, I’m cutting that thing out with a knife or something. You’re going to get a mangled cookie because you can’t create a consistent result every time if you’re constantly meeting new challenges and doing something new. I know if I come in and do this brand and this marketing problem, I can promise them what’s going to happen for them. When I work with my business growth partners, I can pretty much promise what the outcome will be.

If I do my part and you do your part, then this is what you can expect because there’s a signature system behind it. If delivering your work is too difficult right now, it’s likely that you’re doing too much custom and your opportunity is to say, “For whom have I gotten the best results? What did I do when I was working with them? Can I put together a program?” It doesn’t have to be an eLearning but it can be an eLearning. This is the beauty of it.

Charging The Right Amount

What is my seven-step process or 10 or 12 or whatever? What am I doing every time that get those results? Finds who needs that and keeps doing that over and over again. That’s where you’re going to thrive and get amazing results. The last thing I’ll tell you is that effort is too high when you’re delivering work to the clients. It’s probably because you’re undercharging. If you were being paid twice what you’re charging to do the work, would it still be too high an effort? It might not be.

A way to feel that you are not overworking is to feel that you’re being honored for the work that you are doing. That happens when you charge what you think is the right amount for the transformation and the results that you’re giving. The thing I want you to consider is if I were being paid twice this, would I feel differently about this work? If the answer is yes, then you know what you need to do.

 

A way to feel that you are not overworking is to feel that you’re being honored for the work that you are doing. That happens when you charge what you think is the right amount for the transformation and the results that you’re giving.

 

Those are four ways that you can deliver amazing work to your clients with ease. I hope you do continue to do that because your clients need you and we don’t want you to get burned out. My promise to my clients and to you is that you can grow your business and even double your revenues and you don’t have to exhaust yourself in the process.

A great way to do that is going to be to pay attention to your work in your joy and genius zone, and then lead the clients. Use your presence strategically. Delegate anything that you shouldn’t be doing. Also, systemize your work into signature systems, approaches, and proprietary approaches. Last of all, take a look at your prices. I wish you a profitable and joyful consulting business. I will see you next season.

 

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