I knew I had made it when...
This is the second post in a series about my career in corporate consulting and coaching. You can find the first installment here.
About five years into my coaching and consulting work, I was finally starting to work with bigger companies. It wasn’t through any particular focus on my part and in fact serendipity played a larger role than I might like to admit in the evolution of my business. (Is serendipity repeatable? I kinda think so.)
Still, whenever I met a potential client I was skilled enough to ask good questions, listen for challenges and put my hand up as someone who could help solve problems. That led more often than not to new pieces of business.
In this case it was 2010, and I had put my hand up for a larger and more complex problem than I had yet tackled. My job? To help an industrial manufacturer increase sales.
I created a comprehensive package of assessments, training and coaching for a year long engagement. It was the biggest contract I had ever pitched- more than $125,000. And I got it!
Then I had to get to work- I got certified in the assessments I was using. Yes, you are correct to observe that I was not yet fluent in the tools I had pitched. I’m a quick study and obviously over confident but I also know where my aptitudes lie- and understanding and integrating frameworks like assessment tools is one of them.
I soon delivered my very first sales training- but only after reading a ton of different sales experts and then cherry picking the best elements from each of them to create a training experience that could teach and challenge the client’s sales team to think about sales in a new way.
And those assessment tools? We used them to understand each member of the sales team and then carefully built out personas for all the decision makers who impact customer sales. That ended up being the most fun and the most effective part of the project.
Ultimately, the client made some structural changes and experienced both wins and losses during the time I worked with them as their sales team increased their confidence, soft skills and, yes, their numbers. They took market share from a massive competitor with huge brand recognition and deep pockets. I’m still in touch with some members of their team 10 years later!
For me personally this was the project that showed me I could do this kind of work and, moreover, that I was good at it.
I’ll never forget when the US President of the company (my main point of contact on the project) called to tell me a funny story.
Turns out the home office of this multi-national company was embarking on a leadership training program for their country presidents around the world. They planned to bring them all to Europe five times over 18 months for assessments and training.
The funny part? They had hired a huge big name international consulting firm to do the training. The assessments they were planning to use? The exact same ones I had chosen for my US sales team work. The price (for far more people)? 33% less than what I had charged the US division.
That is #winning, people. In that moment I (and my client) had confirmation that the work I was doing was valuable, it benchmarked my expertise with that of a huge brand name corporate consulting firm, and I came out on top because I charged more and had lower overhead.
I did the happy dance and felt like I had arrived.
These kinds of experiences demonstrate that we have the capacity to, as I often say to my clients, paddle in a bigger pond.
One of the reasons I created the Incandescent training is because I believe many small business owners need a little help to find a new pond- and one that is much bigger and more diverse.
Right now we have access to more opportunity than ever before but we’re also probably used to seeing and interacting with the same people/companies/information because of the echo chamber effect of the internet and social media.
It is crucial to step outside your comfort zone (your too-small pond) and find new and different people and teams and companies to interact with if you want to both grow your business and your impact (and your own tool kit).
It’s only when we take risks can we truly test ourselves and experience that feeling of, “Wow, I did that! I made it.”
To learn more about the Incandescent program, just click the button below.