Fractional executives provide valuable experience and insight that help companies solve problems and achieve their goals faster. But closing fractional deals is hard, even for the most experienced exec.
Before your next intro call, check out these tips to help sell yourself and close the deal:
- Understand the company
Show up to the first conversation over-prepared. Do research on the company and team so you can predict needs. Dig into the business, team and challenges. This will help you identify how you can add value and position your expertise in a way that resonates.
- Prove value
Companies are skeptical of “experts” because most self-reported experts are full of shit. The best way to sell yourself is to prove value, and it’s your job to overcome the burden of proof. There are two ways we see our best fractional execs prove value: 1) provide references or testimonials from similar-stage companies where you solved a similar problem, or 2) start working on the problem in the intro conversation. Delivering value and free expertise in the intro call will help the buyer quickly understand why they must work with you.
- Build trust
Be honest about your strengths and gaps. This includes statements like, “I’m perfect for this role because I solved this problem at XYZ company by doing A, B and C.” As well as, “I haven’t solved this type of problem before. But I can work with you to figure it out or help you find someone who’s done it before.” Embellishing your expertise will hurt your most valuable asset: your reputation.
- Set expectations and plan your termination
Clearly communicate your timeline, next steps, availability and a roadmap with the company. Ensure that both parties agree on the definition of success. Fractional is usually an interim solution. Tell the company how you’ll ensure a smooth transition when you leave, and why they’ll be in a better position after your work is done.
- Drive next steps
Companies hire a fractional exec to tell them what to do, and that includes scheduling. Potential next steps include a second call, free session or SOW to be reviewed. If it’s a second call or free session, get it scheduled while you’re on the call. If you’re sending an SOW, tell them when you’ll send it and ask when you can expect to hear back. Don’t end the call until there’s commitment on what happens next.
- Play the long game
Don’t be afraid to slow things down or say no. If you sense hesitation, offer a second conversation or free session. If you’re not the best person for the job, say why and help point the company in the right direction.
Think of the intro call as the beginning of a relationship. Remember, your most valuable asset is your reputation, so preserve it.