If you’re selling execution, you’ll need to have a pretty good idea of what you’ll do and how you’ll do it before you get started.
After all, people are looking for specific deliverables from you. Your proposal depends on it.
But when you’re selling consulting or advisory services, it can be a different story.
Sure, you’ll know roughly what you will work on. You will have a suite of options to choose from that make up your methodology.
You’ll have a process you’ll follow.
But somewhere along the line, there’s going to need to be a little magic that occurs.
It’s the difference between going through the motions of delivering a project vs. figuring out what specifically needs to be done to get an actual business result.
Delivering work product and actually getting results are not always correlated.
Sure, you might include some tactical projects you’ll work on together in your proposal. You will definitely include a clear scope of work to manage expectations.
But what you can’t know—because every marketing challenge is unique—is precisely what you will need to do to get them to the real business outcome they want.
As a consultant—i.e. someone who gives advice instead of execution—you learn what needs to be done on the job, not always before you start.
If it were easy, they wouldn’t be hiring you.
That may make you and the buyer a little uncomfortable, but welcome to the real world.
You need to get in to figure out the problem, work on it for a while, iterate, and then see the novel way to solve the problem while doing the work.
Ask yourself (and the buyer if necessary): do they want a specific deliverable from you or a business result?
Personally, I scope, price, and sell based on the latter. What we do together gets done if and only if it helps achieve and maintain the latter.
It requires you to get clear on the business outcomes you’re improving, not so much every specific channel or tactic you’ll be consulting on.
If you’re new to consulting, this is an important distinction to learn.