Archive for March, 2007

Why questions get you hired more than credentials do

March 14, 2007

Why does a professional with impeccable educational and professional credentials not get hired when a professional with more modest credentials does?

There are two common reasons.

The first is the likability factor. As author David Maister notes, people choose professionals when the answer to two questions is yes:

a. Can you do the work?

b. Do I want to work with you?

Most professionals do fine on “a” but some professionals have trouble with “b.” There are skills required to build rapport with clients and prospective clients, and some professionals don’t bother to learn those skills. They come across as arrogant, aloof, and unconcerned with the prospect’s success — at least compared to competitors. You don’t need to “kiss up” in order to develop rapport and trust with a prospect, but you do need to know how to relate on a personal level.

The second reason is that some professionals hide behind their credentials. Credential are important. However, what really sells an engagement is the ability to ask probing, insightful questions to understand the prospect’s situation and build your credibility. As David Sandler says in his sales book, “Questions are the answer.”

The next time you are with a prospect, assess the percentage of time you spend making assertions and the percentage of time you spend asking open-ended questions. The top rainmakers spend 75% of their time asking open-ended questions. That way, the prospect knows that the professional is concerned about their issues and situation and, assuming the questions are on point, that the professional has credibility.

Questions get you hired more than credentials do.


From $80,000 to $1.2 million per year as a consultant

March 14, 2007


I’ve been working with an executive coach, consultant and trainer for 6 years now and he has finally hit the stratosphere.

While I’ve promised not to reveal any confidential information, this individual was a private high school teacher 10 years ago and gradually made a transition into coaching and consulting top executives. Each year he saw his income double and this past year he tells me he earned $1.2 million!

Here are some keys to his success:

1. He took the skills he learned teaching drama and theater to his students and found a way to apply those skills to fill a need that many top executives have (high-performance communication).

2. He talks about his coaching NOT in terms of what he does, but in terms of the results he gets. That way, he can charge more than other people in the same field.

3. He developed some truly innovative programs for executives that nobody else was, or is, doing.

4. He gave workshops at leading insitutions, like Esalen, which increased his network of contacts and put him in touch with executives. Over time, he networked his way into the offices of some C-level executives.

5. He kept “talking his way” into meeting with top executives, showing them value, and getting more and more referrals. He is fearless at walking up to a C-level executive at a billion dollar company and starting a conversation.

6. He has no qualms about charging $30,000 or more for a weekend seminar/workshop or $10,000 minimum for a couple of months of coaching. Perhaps he came into coaching a bit naive, and so asking for amounts that many coaches consider to be unreasonable was not an issue for him.

7. He has a wonderful marketing message that sets his services apart as unique, elite, and results-driven. His message doesn’t overly promote him, but rather is crafted to be minimalist. It grabs an executive’s attention without any annoying self-promotion.

8. He has put together a team of fantastic consultants who work with him and on his behalf, using his methodology, so that he gets excellent leverage on his time and revenue model.

As they say on diet commercials, “results not typical.” Still — it is so inspiring to have worked with him over these six years and see these remarkable results.

What are we working on now? Surprisingly, we are still working on marketing, so that he can continue to refine his message and generate more clients. We are also working on helping him scale his firm so that it can grow and still deliver top service.