About five years ago, and a year before I stepped out of my corporate life to form my own independent consulting and coaching business, I had dinner with a good friend and colleague. Over sushi and cocktails, I shared my current state, where I believed I was headed and how I planned to get there.

I was excited, a little scared, but mostly energized to be on with the business of starting my business. My friend frowned

You know you’ll always be prospecting, right?

she asked. And, of course, at some level I did. We talked about it, about her friends who were already out and independent, and how much of their time was spent on business development.

Being myself, I acknowledged the concern, stored it away with everything else, knowing that I’d cross the bridge when I got to it.

Sure enough, I got to that bridge. Crossed it. Got to the next bridge. Crossed it.

My friend was totally right. This is the life of the free-lancer, the independent, those who survive by the quality of their work AND their ability to woo, persuade and close the next client. And I haven’t yet met a peer who enjoys business development – we are strategists, coaches, consultants after all – and very, very few of us woke up one morning saying

I wish I could spend time selling my craft

but we know we have to – it’s the work in our world of work. We have to sell our craft, it’s the way commerce worked for centuries before the late-20th century tried to persuade us otherwise. As I come off another round of business development, I’ve been reflecting on what I offer, how I pitch and, most importantly, WHO I’m pitching to. You see, at the core of my offering is change.

No, let’s capitalize that, and put it in it’s own space


In all of my offerings – individual coaching, team effectiveness, organization effectiveness, workforce planning, culture change – I bring a core set of capabilities to bear:

  • Assess the current state
  • Envision the desired future state
  • Plan for forward movement

Whether it’s a career transition coaching assignment, a team breakdown, deep change in wide network influence, I basically start with an assessment that says

Here’s the problem we are solving

usually for a client who knows something is wrong, but not what it is, or how to solve for it.

And from a business development perspective, this is where things get interesting. Because most of us adapt to difficult circumstances, and our capacity to adapt is much, much greater than we believe. It’s why we stay in frustrating jobs until the only way we feel we can exert control is to quit. It’s why we find easy excuses to avoid changing. In many ways, it’s like an intervention, we don’t admit we have a problem until someone we trust shows us we have a problem, in a way we cannot deny.

Selling myself as an intervention – it was never going to be an easy proposition! Yet, here’s the thing I’ve found – if I ask enough people

Hi. Where are you going? Can I help you get there?

I usually find at least one who has reached the point of intervention – who’s at the point of realizing the pain of change is far outweighed by the pain of staying in the status quo. These are the people I help – they’re not prospects, they’re not leads, they’re not business to be developed.

Because I’m not a sales-man.

I’m a coach and consultant.

And I help people move forward.

So let me ask you again

Hi. Where are you going? Can I help you get there?

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