They think they need to follow the stereotypes to “fit in” and look and sound like a typical corporate consultant.
But actually, as a corporate consultant myself and coach to those who want to land corporate clients, I have found the opposite to be true.
Corporate decision-makers (aka the people who can buy your services) are badgered by consultants all the time about buying their offers. And over time, all those bright-eyed, sharp-suited peeps start to blend into each other.
Why you don’t need to be the ‘cliche’ consultant
I remember a situation as CFO where we interviewed various consultancies to help with a productivity project. It became quite tricky to remember which consultant belonged to which firm because they all looked and sounded so similar. (This is not the fault of the individuals, but a result of the ingrained beliefs by their firms that this was the right way to project a professional image).
They all talked about empowering people to greater productivity, without giving me any indication of what that looked like day-to-day. They also didn’t give me the impression that they were particularly empowered themselves, the way they seemed to hide their personality.
So the effect of all that sameness was that the only real differentiating factor was the price. Which led me to do what any good CFO would do and negotiate based on price. But note, I only did this because I didn’t have much else to base my value judgments on!
I would have happily paid a higher price if I had been given an option that set itself apart from the pack.
You see, corporates who really care about solving the issue they are grappling with don’t want cookie-cutter, template solutions.
What corportates actually seek
They want someone who can actually help them and long gone are the days that a sharp suit and management jargon are enough to inspire the confidence that you can do that.
To build up confidence that you are the person to help them takes a mix of hard and soft evidence:
Hard evidence is things like your qualifications, professional experience and case studies.
Soft evidence is your lived experiences, values, motivations and personality.
And both types of evidence are equally important!
That’s great news for you because instead of worrying about fitting in and hiding your personality, you can actually focus on talking about the results you bring and how your skills set you apart.
So when people come to me saying they are worried about not being very corporate-y, I tell them that is an asset they should cultivate!
Creating that perfect blend of hard and soft evidence that lets both your qualifications and your personality shine through so that corporate prospects are drawn to you. This is one of the things I help my 1:1 clients to achieve in my 3 months intensive program.