A lot of coaches & consultants tell themselves that they would like to work with corporate clients but they don’t want to play office politics.
This always puzzles me because there is a simple answer: you don’t need to!
What you do need is a robust process to find and convert only those types of clients that are a joy to work with.
One time a student in my course asked me how I would deal with a corporate client who had a culture of back-stabbing and rumor-mongering.
My short answer was that I wouldn’t.
Why people play office politics
Office politics is generally a symptom of a culture where individuals try to grow their influence and power at the expense of others.
Maybe even to harm the careers of others or by stepping on others for their own gain. Those are the worst scenarios and I am not surprised that you want no part of it as a coach or independent consultant.
I wouldn’t either!
Office politics and toxic cultures are a sign of poor leadership and organizational structures that amplify obnoxious behaviours, such as highly competitive bonus schemes that regularly lead to unhealthy rivalry among colleagues.
As an independent coach or consultant, your goal is to help improve aspects of an organization depending on your topic (otherwise there would be no need for your services). But that does NOT mean you have to work with toxic clients or join in with unhealthy office politics.
Why you don’t need to play office politics
First of all, critically, you are NOT an employee.
You have the freedom to choose who you work with. You have the freedom to work on your own terms (after all, that is why you set up your business, right?). You also have the freedom to walk away if you don’t like a client or prospect.
Years ago, early into my business, I found myself working for a client delivering training on how to use storytelling with number-heavy data. This client’s culture was deeply broken. It was ultra hierarchical, with 10 layers of management for 80 people, who were super disengaged and not interested in my training at all.
Regardless of this, I delivered the training but hated every minute of it – and then declined future work with this client.
I did this because I knew that there are literally thousands of companies that I would enjoy working with. Thousands that I would be excited about and where I could deliver my best work. This is almost never possible to achieve in toxic work environments.
The ultra-toxic ones might make the headlines but in my 20+ years of experience with corporates and 9+ years running my own consulting business, I have come across one case of truly hideous office politics. In fact, all my other clients have been an utter delight to work with.
The first step to working with ideal corporate clients
To ensure you work with dreamboat (and not nightmare) corporate clients, you need a solid system to identify and approach only those companies YOU want to work with.
Most business development and sales training tell you to identify your ideal clients by looking at the industry, the size, and type of the organization, and maybe the function you want to work with.
All of those are good starting points, but they don’t go far enough.
If you limit yourself to these criteria you will likely waste your time trying to get meetings with prospects who are not a good fit for your business (and might just blank you anyway). Or, worst case: you end up with a client that you don’t actually like to work with.
To avoid this situation, you need to get a much deeper understanding of your ideal client, something that most people do not do.
Going deeper to identify your ideal clients
You must identify:
Your personal WHY. This has to be the foundation of everything you do (there is a famous book written why starting with the WHY is the key to business success). It’s all about why you do what you do and why this matters to you on a level that is deep enough to motivate you and inspire others to work with you.
Your personal and business values. Being crystal clear on these is crucial to finding clients who are aligned with you. For example, if transparency is a core value for you, you will find it difficult to work with organizations that share information on a need-to-know limited basis only.
Your personality & style. It is a myth that all corporate work requires you to do the typical corporate uniform of smart suits and heels (mainly if you’re female). Or that you have to speak and act in a certain way. Today, business cultures vary hugely and this is a relief for many because it means you can focus on businesses that match your preferences.
Your goals and aspirations for your results: while obvious, again, very little sales training explicitly teaches you how to find clients who match your aims and goals. They assume that for you it’s just about financial rewards and while those are key, you probably didn’t become an expert in your field just for the money.
But you want to make a real difference and that means you don’t want clients who see your services just as a tick-box exercise (this happens in some organizations when it comes to topics like diversity and inclusion – working with those can be very disheartening).
Why defining these aspects is essential
Defining these aspects of your ideal client is essential to make sure you target prospects who are actually a good fit for your work (and therefore will get the best results + give you repeat work).
And it has the cool side effect that it also enables you to really stand out from all the other coaches and consultants in your niche.
This sets you up for more and higher-paid work.
How to get more ideal clients
In my 1:1 program, I will help you define your ideal client to this deeper level and then help you create the framework to assess if a company is likely to meet your requirements before you approach them for the initial conversations. That means you never waste your time on the wrong prospects.
I also work with you on your marketing message so that you attract only those prospects who are right for you, help you with your outreach strategy that avoids the feast or famine roller coaster, and teach you how to have simple but effective sales conversations and create proposals that have a conversion rate of approximately 80%.
Following this program, you should be able to have 1-2 explorative conversations with ideal corporate prospects per week (if you reach out to sufficient numbers) and book 1-2 new corporate clients per month for your business for $5k-$15k contracts.
If you’re interested in the program, the next step is to DM me and we’ll have a chat to see if it’s a good match for your business.