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  • Writer's pictureMartin Harshberger

Does a Business Coach or Consultant Need a Value Proposition?

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

As a business advisor, how do you explain the value that you create for a potential client? What makes you different? Can you answer the question, “with all of the goods and services available to your prospect in your market, why should they hire you?”

I’ve known many coaches and consultants over my 40-year career. It’s interesting to see how they would approach me when I was the CEO of two mid-tier companies.

They are quick to tell you what they do, what services they offer. I used to call this approach, “show up and throw up.” They rattle off a long list of tools and processes and then wait to gauge my reaction.

My reaction was always the same, interesting pitch, but what’s in it for me? What value will you provide me that I can’t get someplace else? Very few had compelling answers to that question. It’s as if I was supposed to be impressed by their education and experience.

The fact is, I rarely found someone that came into my office and asked me intelligent questions. The message is, don’t try to sell me something if you don’t know what I need.

After I retired from running two companies, I wanted to stay busy. I became a business coach about 15 years ago. I thought very hard about what value I could bring before I decided to actually do it. I am a small business advocate. I know firsthand how hard founding and running a business is. I have the utmost respect for anyone that puts it all on the line to start a business. They invest time, money, and risk with personal guarantees on loans. For many, they risk everything.

My value proposition was I spent 15 years as a CEO of multimillion-dollar companies. I wrote two books about my experiences. I’ve sat in their chair, and at times it’s quite uncomfortable.

I’ve worked with dozens of companies as a coach, some as large as $50M in sales. What I’ve learned is, most have a real need for basic processes. They need blocking and tackling, not one-off programs that rarely get executed.

As a business coach, you must be able to state the value you bring to the client. I try to do it in quantifiable terms. What are your three biggest issues? Let’s discuss them and figure out what they cost you. If I could reduce that cost by X% would that interest you? Of course, it does, but then you have to be prepared to convince them you can actually deliver. I have a standard process I’ve been using over the past 10 years. I explain my process and tell them exactly what we will do as partners in the effort to deliver results.

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