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The 7 Myths That Can Stop Consultants Working With CEOs

(3 minute read)

There are some consultants who believe in myths.  And these myths drive what we might term, their self-sabotaging behaviour that prevents them from working at the top and also prevents their business reaching its full potential.  

Here are 7 of the most prevalent myths:

Myth 1: “I’ll be spotted as an imposter if I work with CEOs”  – I confess way back when I started consulting I thought this about myself and it didn’t serve me well. For me developing greater self-confidence, visualising success and a realization of the value my work delivered helped me overcome this common myth.

Myth 2: “It’s best to be a “jack-of-all-trades” – You can see these professionals when you look at LinkedIn profiles some say they can do everything from talent development to strategic planning and all stops in between. Often times they take this approach as they’re scrabbling around for revenue.  But to work at the top you need to be famous for one thing.

Myth 3: “CEOs prefer to work with global consulting firms” – This can be true particularly of large companies or if you are a solo consultant and a large firm needs enterprise wide consulting capabilities. But you are known for the irrefutable value you deliver in your area of expertise then you can win business with CEOs

Myth 4: “I must have an Ivy league education pedigree before I can work with CEOs” – This simply isn’t true.  Sure going to such an institution gives access into a network, but your educational background shouldn’t limit you.

Myth 5: “I need to have all the ‘polished’ marketing collateral before I can approach a CEO”  – These are what I describe as ‘nice to haves’ but are by no means essential.   For three years prior to founding The Trusted Advisor Project I didn’t even have a website for my consulting business, but I was still generating a healthy 6-figure consulting revenue each year.

Myth 6: “It is easier to develop business further down the organisation” – The challenges you face further down an organisation include: multiple decision makers, people playing politics, delayed decision making, lower value work and lower fee work.  Stick to the top

Myth 7: “I need to be to be a great salesperson to secure a CEO meeting” – No CEO on earth wants to be sold to.  But there are an awful lot of providers you come across peddling programs on how to sell to top decision makers. But the irony is, most of these providers have never worked with senior decision makers and they have never practiced what they preach. Bottomline: selling repulses CEOs, but value attracts

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Some of these myths likely represent excuses as it can feel more comfortable working within your comfort zone rather than stretching yourself; others highlight an inappropriate mindset or they’ve received poor advice. However, the chances are, all successful consultants have experienced or believed one or more of these myths at some point in their career.  The key is to ‘kick them out the park’.  

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