An Interview with Michael Zipursky of consulting success-How to Attract High-Value Clients

Want to know how to attract high-value clients? Michael Zipursky is the CEO of Consulting Success and Coach to Consultants. He has advised organizations like Financial Times, Dow Jones, and others and helped Panasonic launch new products into global markets, but more importantly, he’s helped over 300 consultants from around the world in over 50 industries add six and seven figures to their annual revenues. Over 34,000 consultants read his weekly consulting newsletter. Michael is also the author of the Amazon Best Sellers “The Elite Consulting Mind” and the book Consulting Success. You can get Michaels Free 47-Page Consulting Blueprint on his website.

Show Notes

I’ve heard you mention on your podcast that an entrepreneur can achieve greater success by subtraction than addition, can you explain that?
What is the only thing that is holding literally anybody back from being a successful consultant or freelancer?
How do you develop offers that align and resonate with your ideal clients?
How can you structure a marketing system to help you attract high-value clients?
How can freelancers and consultants use ROI positioning to increase their fees significantly?
Where can our audience learn more about you?

Raw Transcript:

Get ready for freelancing strategies, hacks and tactics to help you skyrocket your success brought to you by Freelancer masterclass calm. You’re listening to freelancing school with your instructor Mike Volkin

Alright everybody, thanks for joining us today a freelancer school and I am Mike Volkin lead instructor Freelancer masterclass Today we have with us, Michaels The burski is the CEO of consulting success and coach two consultants he has advised organizations like the Financial Times Dow Jones and others and he’s helped Panasonic launch new products into global markets. But more importantly, he’s helped over 300 consultants from around the world in over 50 Industries and even add six and seven figures to their annual revenues and he has over 34,000 consultants read his weekly consulting newsletter. He’s the author of the best selling books like the elite consulting mind and the book called coaching success. And I believe Michael even offers a 47 page Consulting Group blueprint on his website. Is that right, Michael?

Yeah. And the book is consulting success, same as a website,

consulting success, calm

and welcome to the show. Thanks. Good to be with you.

So I’ve heard you mentioned on your podcast that an entrepreneur can achieve greater success by subtraction than addition. Can you explain this to our audience? Because I think it’s really interesting what you said,

There, I think, you know, today more than ever, we have options and there’s lots of different ways to to try to grow a business there’s lots of different information it’s all surrounding us. And so what a lot of entrepreneurs think about is, you know, in order to grow, we need to add more, we need to do more, we need to put on more you know, put up more products or offer more services. And, in my experience, my observation that’s exactly the exact opposite that by subtracting by taking away different offerings by taking a different products by removing complex Moving towards simplicity. And actually, in fact, if you study the most successful companies of our times, most of them got started by being very focused. It was only later on once they achieved a certain level of traction and success. So they then start to add additional offerings. And so even though you might believe that you need to have more to grow, in fact, if you get more focused at the early stages, especially it allows you to see greater results faster.

Yeah, when you mentioned that’s a good point, when you mentioned the companies that have started off really small and then niched out I immediately thought of Amazon, right. So it wasn’t too long ago when they only offered books. It’s like decimated the book industry, Barnes and Nobles borders all went down or a fraction of what they were. And now they’re just there is nothing that Amazon won’t sell now with success, and they’ve got their own delivery. You know, they deliver their own packages now throughout the world, and it’s just amazing. So,

yeah, I mean, if I’m in exactly your point, if Amazon tried to launch, you know, everything they have today at the early stages, there’s no way that they would have gotten any traction because It would have been just even not economical to do that.

Now, do you think the reason for that is because of the the marketing is too general? Or do you think it’s probably the the operation from an operational standpoint, it’s difficult to scale something. And so with so many different industries and products and services, or maybe a combination of the two, is there one or the other? That’s more important?

I think you hit on the head there, Mike is it’s definitely both right. So if you are trying to offer different things to different people at the early stages, that makes it very hard to to be focused, which means you have to have different messages, you know, different groups, and at the early stages, that’s very challenging to manage. But on top of that, right, there’s actually the physical management of all of that. And so most of us feel, you know, stretched at times, right? We feel overwhelmed, and especially for trying to consume most information that’s confronting us right now on on, you know, online. And so by removing that, and getting very fortunate when I say a lot of people is listen, if you want to have a seven figure business as an example, let’s just say you want to reach that one. million dollar market so many people, you know, think is kind of like the best place to be everyone’s working towards 1 million, well, you don’t need to have five or six different offerings to do that you can get there with two or three offerings a maximum, you don’t have to have anything more than that. I’ve seen it over and over again. And so you know, people are trying to create a lot of complexity by having you know, they’re doing speaking from the get go and they’re offering webinars and books and products, and they’re doing 10 different things and they think they have to have all these different service offerings. So you go to their website, it’s just a big list of stuff. That’s confusion because when you go to talk to someone I say, what do you do you don’t even know what to say? Because you offer too many different things I’m being very focusing This is exactly what who I help this is how I help them this is the result that help them to achieve with the problem that help them to solve it becomes much easier to have that conversation

so true early on and Freelancer masterclass module two of 10 we talk about elevator pitches and unique selling propositions because that is a foundation for everything if you don’t know how to say, you know, I get the typical Freelancer like what do you do? Oh, I help companies scale Well, what does that mean? There’s so much that like, can you and I keep telling people, you can’t niche down far enough. There’s so much money to be made out there. I mean, you can pick a niche of a niche of a niche, and it’s still be a multimillion dollar opportunity for you just have to be able to execute it. Right, exactly. So what is the only thing that is holding freelancers and consultants back? I don’t wanna say the only but what’s the major thing that you see talking all these consultants? what’s what’s the big tie in? that’s holding them all back?

Yeah, universally. It’s I mean, this is across all businesses, and for all entrepreneurs, and certainly consultants and freelancers. It’s mindset, right? That’s the biggest thing that holds all of us back is what’s kind of between our ears. And so people often think that it’s something else. They think, Oh, no, I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough resources. I don’t have enough skills. I don’t have the tools. I don’t have all the automations right. And so we’re looking at all these external things that we don’t have that are holding us back. And in fact, it’s none of that right. Most of us actually know what we need to do. Most of us have studied enough we’ve, you know, read the books. We’ve Get it done whatever it is. And so what’s not what’s holding us back is not our lack of knowledge. It’s our lack of implementation. Yeah. And that lack of implementation comes from our minds that comes from our beliefs and the fears that we have. And so in order to see greater results, you got to push, you know, push past that you need to look at, really, what are the beliefs that you have what’s, what are your limiting beliefs, and then figure out what you need to do to start making progress to overcome them?

Yeah, you’re speaking my language. I’m into creative visualization right now. It’s my new thing. And I’m reading a book called The power of neuro plasticity. And it talks about now that we have the ability to measure human brains like we never have before in last few years, they can actually show you how much power you have to re actually rewire in your brain. And your brain has way more power than we ever thought was possible. And you had mentioned beliefs. And I probably would have stated the lack of beliefs, but either way, we’re talking about the same thing, the power for you to believe and even just for five or 10 minutes a day do creative visualization does amazing thing. Things and I’m gonna tennis player. And when I started doing creative visualization after two weeks, I won one of my competitive tennis matches 6060 in my league person didn’t win a game, he went to go complain to the other coach that I was in the wrong league. And it would have been a match that would have been very close. But I, I believed I could win. I visualized myself winning and hitting perfect strokes and having great techniques. And I just I crushed it that day. And ever since then, I’ve been hooked on creative visualization. So there’s more power to to, to the mind. And you think so?

Yeah, it’s very true, about

you know, consultants and freelancers finding a niche and going after, but how do you develop an offer that that aligns and resonates with someone’s ideal client? What What’s it it’s not really it’s easier said than done? Right?

Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s a big challenge, right? Those those first two parts, when you’re starting your consulting or freelancing business, right, getting clear on what we call the your ideal client clarity, so really clear as to who your ideal client is, and the second part is developing a message that will get the attention interest of that ideal client right will really resonate with them they’ll respond to. And so in terms of how do you figure out an offering that’s going to, to work with those people or aligner as essentially what they want to buy. It’s all about having conversations, right. And this is where most people, they neglect this, or they don’t actually kind of lean into it, because they’re hesitant to have those conversations. They’re spending a lot of time building a bunch of stuff are working on their website, they’re working on their funnels, they’re working on their social media, they’re creating all the stuff that they think is going to help them solve the problem that that they believe that they have. But in fact, if they can solve that problem a lot easier by just going on having conversations with their ideal clients to find out what is the problem that you have right now? What are you looking to, you know, are you actually looking to invest in a solution, right, when you understand what it is that your client is going through right now or the you know, the person who you believe is your ideal client, and you have a conversation with them, you’ll very quickly be able to validate whether the hypotheses and the assumptions that you have are valid or not, right, too often, like I remember back in the day, my cousin Simon, who’s still my business partner to today, in a different business that we had we invested 20th was $21,000 building this product we believe the market wanted. And then we finally launched many months later. And we put we crammed every feature into that we had a bunch of developers working on all that kind of stuff. And then we found out when we launched it, like 95%, of what we had built, people didn’t want, they only want to 5% it would have saved us a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of energy if we just actually asked the market earlier on. And so that’s always stuck with me. Now, this is, you know, 15 years later from from that point, but still today, it’s stuff that I counsel my clients on and those that we coach, because it’s so important to go and is validate to have that conversation. And so back your real question, Mike, how do you develop an offer that your ideal clients really want? Well, first of all, figure out who is your ideal client? And you don’t need to be 100% right with that, right? A lot of people believe that, Oh, I’m not going to go and have a conversation until actually know exactly who my ideal client is. But the truth is that clarity around your ideal client and your messaging, those evolve over time, right who your ideal client is today and your messaging, the way it is today is not going to be the way that is in years from now potential that’s going to change in my or yours going forward. So you just need a starting point. So decided, who do you believe is your ideal client? What do you believe is the message that will resonate with them right the base of the problems they have, and so forth. And then get in front of them, get some introduction, get some referrals, do hustle, like figure out some ways to get some conversations going. And then ask them questions so that you can truly validate whether or not what you believe the you know, the problem they have is actually the problem and what kind of solution would be the right fit for them. And once you do that, then the whole sales process becomes a lot easier because you get to just sell if you want to buy

Yes, yes. Don’t assume that’s very good. Don’t assume what they want. I have a failed business. And I think that’s what makes us stronger as an entrepreneurs kind of failing a couple of times, but I wasted almost $60,000, building a company, realizing that I was building the wrong solution all along and I got all the way down to the nitty gritty of the features. And when I launched it, I realized, oops, I should have done 5% of this. So but that didn’t make me stronger. And that’s all about the buzzword. Growth Hacking is you know, going out there finding what they want building a quickest, easiest solution you can just to validate some business model and then building it out from there. But how do you structure a marketing system? Once you have that, that plan in place like and you know, what you want, who you want to attract? And how you can attract them? How do you structure a marketing system from that point?

So the first thing I’ll say is that it’s gonna depend on on who your ideal clients are and what market you’re in. Right. So my world is consulting our clients work with organizations, whether for profit or nonprofit, whether, you know, they’re funded startups, or they’re, you know, multi billion dollar organizations. But that’s the world that I’m more familiar with. So I’ll just kind of speak to that because I think it’s important that people recognize that it’s one way of marketing is not necessarily the right way of marketing for different industry. Right. So if you’re, if you’re selling socks, or, you know, pokey bowls or whatever, it’s gonna be different. But in the sense of if you’re consulting or you’re providing advice and kind of strategic directions to people, it’s all about relationships, right? This is where I see a lot of people going wrong as they think about marketing is transactional. They spent a lot of time on trying to automate and get all the rights tools and everything in place without actually focusing on the relationships. So if we break this down and just kind of like step by step, a path that a lot people can take that works consistently is number one, right? Get clear on who your ideal client is then number two gold and actually connect with them. So you can use LinkedIn or different platforms to do that. But don’t do it. Like we all get. I’m sure you guys as well Mike, where someone connects with you. And right away, boom, that is spammy with like a big message of here’s what we do buy from us get our like, really, right, you would never do that in you never go to a networking event. Say Hi, my name is Michael, do you know, do you want to buy this thing that I have? Like, you would never do that? So why are you doing it online? Right, just because you can hide behind a screen. Act like a human being because you are human being it’s all about relationships, and especially when you’re selling valuable, you know, products or services, it’s not as a quick snap of the finger decision. Right? It’s you’re going to there’s a level of trust that needs to be in place, there’s a level of risk that is there as well. And so to overcome all that and to make sure that everything is in line, right, you need to have the relationship there. So once you connect with them once they accept that connection request, and even if they don’t, there’s other things you can do to start providing value to them, right and over time, you’re going to be in touch with them, you’re going to make sure that they understand what your value proposition is, and how you might be able to help them, you’re adding value, you’re staying in touch, you’re doing consistent follow up. And then a percentage of the marketplace is going to want exactly what you have, right? If you’ve done your job pretty quickly, but the majority won’t. And so that’s where follow up is really critical, right? continuing to get in front of those people delivering value delivering different messages, checking in following up right over a period of time, and you’re gonna be able to build a thriving pipeline by doing that, and where most people, you know, kind of fall down is they stop after one or two attempts to convert someone, they think, oh, as this transaction, I guess what I’m doing isn’t working because I reached out two or three times or I sent a couple of LinkedIn messages and it didn’t work. So I guess this, this whole thing doesn’t work. And then they abandon it, only to maybe, you know, recognize later on that. It’s actually all the follow up and everything that happens later on right over a longer period of time. That actually generates the vast majority of the sales.

Yeah, that’s so true. It’s so in the bigger the more popular the person is that you’re trying to reach the more following You should do like if you’re trying to reach CEOs or CMOS that are usually really busy at a company, you want to do more than just one or two LinkedIn messages. I mean, I might go so far as to say write a hand letter, handwritten letter and just mail it to them or a postcard saying, hey, trying to get your attention on LinkedIn, please respond, you’ll be surprised at how the stuff that isn’t so normal nowadays will get all the attention that you need. So yeah, you actually talked about ROI positioning on your website? Can you explain that a little bit because I think our freelancers that are listening to this are saying, Well, how can I increase my fees? Or my hourly rate or my project based and you talk about ROI positioning, which I think is is a great answer to this so please explain that.

Yeah, definitely. So I’m not a big fan of hourly fees, I believe there’s just just creates a ceiling and it’s it doesn’t work well for the client or or for the consultant or the freelancer in that case. So ROI positioning right is all about identifying the value in the ROI for the client. And by doing that, or the way that you do that is by having a conversation with with the buyer a meaningful conversation. So in our in our world, we call it a meaningful sales conversation. That conversation is all about digging deep into what the buyer cares most about. Right? A lot of people have what we call surface level conversations. So they’ll ask things like, you know, what do you want us to look like? And how do you want it to be? And it’s just surface level, but you’re not getting deep. And so a few examples of maybe kind of deeper level questions would be, you know, tell me about why this is so important to you, and what will things look like for you when this is in place? Right? How will that be different than today? If you don’t do this right now, then what happens? Let’s that’s called COI cost of inaction, right? If you stay where you are, right, and don’t change anything, what’s the impact on your business? How, what kind of results, you know, will you be able to generate when you have this new solution in place, so you’re digging a lot deeper into the real reasons for them to do this now as opposed to waiting. And you’re also starting to connect the value or the ROI that they can get by by doing this? And so it’s not just about hey, can you you know, come in and help us with our marketing and develop a marketing plan for us or develop a website for us now. Well, if you develop a marketing plan for us, how does that actually help the business? Oh, well, our goal is to add an extra, you know, $5 million in the next two years. Okay. And, you know, why is it so important for you to do right now? Well, we’re seeing a lot more competition, our you know, our competitors are starting grab some market share from us. And is that a concern for you? Yeah, that’s a big concern for us right now. We’ll tell me more about that. Why is that a big concern right now, as opposed to maybe it wasn’t a concern before? So it’s a real conversation, right? The way I like to describe it, Mike is it’s like an onion and you’re peeling back the layers of the onion to get to the core right to get to the center. And the more that you do that, then the more valuable that you become to that buyer. Number One reason is because you’re asking the questions that no one else is typically asked them, right, you’re getting to think about things that they haven’t necessarily thought about before, or they get a little light bulb moment or someone clicks and goes Oh, right, as they’re thinking to answer that question. Now, they feel a lot clearer. They feel a lot more kind of confident that you are someone that can help them so you’re demonstrating authority through that whole discussion, but most importantly, you’re moving the conversation from just investing into you know, into You as as an expense or a cost to an actual investment, right? It’s not they’re thinking about, yeah, I can put money in, but I can see how I’m going to get more money out from doing that. And most people are not happy about expenses or costs. But they’re a lot more excited about making an investment because they can see that there’s a greater return. That’s going to come from doing it. Yeah, like that. It’s also called value based pricing, right? ROI positioning. But so what would happen in this case? So let’s say somebody came to us with a marketing plan, somebody came to me with a marketing plan, right? And they said, our goal is to do $1 million. How would I price that when there’s somebody else out there that’s doing hourly, it says, Hey, I can do a marketing plan for you for $1,000 and I come in, I say, it’s gonna be 20,000. And I realize I’m asking all the right questions, and I’m and I’m showing them that I’m different and they like that, but that’s not enough. That’s too big of a gap there. You know. So, how would you deal with something like that, for example? Yes. Well, the first thing is to recognize that you don’t win the business. You shouldn’t try and win the business at the point of, you know, providing proposal or, or stating your fees. If you’re waiting to that point to try and win the business, then you’ve likely already lost. Right? So what what you should be thinking about is how do you actually start to create greater differentiation? How do you, you know, contribute and put out more value into the marketplace so that when someone approaches you, when you actually start to even have that conversation, they’re already seeing you differently than that hourly provider, right? They know there’s cheaper options out in that marketplace, they have a sense that you’re probably more expensive, they’re expecting that. And that happens, because they see you as an expert, whereas they see these other people. Like there’s a lot of marketing consultants out there. There’s a lot of web design developers out there, but summer are able to earn 10 and 20 times more than others. Why is that? Well, it’s because they have, you know, a better client list. They have a lot more thought leadership out there. Right. You know, you find them a lot easier online, you see them speaking, they have books on the subject, whatever it is, they’ve put in the work to create enough thought leadership or to put enough value into the marketplace so that when the client approaches them, they already know that they’re going to be, you know, a more expensive solution. So that’s part of it, right? But it’s also the conversation that you have because to the consultants are the three nonces go in and just say our hourly fee is whatever, $200 an hour. And this is what we do. Their conversation with the client is very different than the consultant or Freelancer that’s thinking a lot more about value and a lot more about ROI. And so if you’ve been able to navigate that conversation properly, by the end of that conversation, the the buyer will understand that yeah, this is a different type of person. Like we’ve gone a lot deeper. An example that I give Mike is, you know, imagine if you’re going to have your house painted, and you call it two different contractors to come over house painters. And one comes in, they kind of walk around and they give you a quote, yeah, it’s going to be 1500 dollars to paint your house, okay. And another person comes, and they’re walking around your house, and they go, Oh, you know, how long is this patch been like that for and? Okay, yeah, you see how this is peeling over here? Yeah. So this is why that’s happening. So it might cost a little bit more, but my suggestion actually would be to probably remove some of these areas, apply these two different layers of paint because it’s going to last you 10 years longer. You won’t need me again.

Yeah, exactly right. It’s like but even through that conversation, even though you you know, this gonna cost you more That pert, that second person will be more expensive. You feel a lot more trust and feel like yeah, this person actually is looking out for me. They’re they’re much more detailed and much more specific. There’s a lot more value happening in that conversation whether or not I actually go with them. But most people will end up going with them if they have the financial ability to do so because the value is there.

Right? Yeah, I love it. That’s great. And I think more freelancers should get away from hourly, because I’m constantly getting bombarded with what should I get charged per hour. It’s like why I mean, I just hired two content writers to write almost the same blog post blog post one was $60 more an hour, but the one who was cheaper got it done, like three times faster. I would have never known that because it’s such a terrible indicator of work output is the hourly rate, I have no idea how fast you can work or what the quality is. No, I can’t stand our hourly rates. But how can our audience find you online? I think you’ve got a lot of great ideas to share.

Yeah, definitely. So consulting, success, calm. And for those of you mentioned, we have a 47 page consulting blueprint they can get for free and they can get that a consulting forward slash blueprint.

Cool. And what does that blueprint teach? Is it a step by step module or what is it

knows the blueprint pretty much goes through several different key kind of foundational areas that are critical to building a successful consulting business. So there’s a whole section in there around pricing. So we talked about ROI positioning, we talked about how to actually start attracting ideal clients and building out your marketing system. There’s information there, there’s actually a whole bunch of questions around the sales process. So it’s kind of like some of the key areas around consulting. And we go into those over the 47 pages. So there’s, there’s a lot of value in there that people can if they’re interested building a consulting business or taking their existing consulting business to the next level. I think it’ll be a good resource for nice.

Alright, well, I’ll link to your website so they can get that in the show notes. And thank you very much for joining. Let’s keep in touch in the future. Okay.

My pleasure, Mike. All right. Take care.

Thank you for joining us for freelancing school. Be sure to subscribe and get the latest updates on the show. Go to freelancing masterclass calm to become a master freelancer.

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