Have you had trouble convincing potential clients why they need a facilitator? Three recent events have led me to choose this topic for our blog today. In these events, everyone wanted the same thing. They were starting a facilitation business and wondering how to sell their services to prospective clients. Or, they were in house facilitators dying to practice and apply their facilitation skills to resolve important organizational dilemmas.
Their questions went from general to specific like this:
- How do I find people who may need facilitation?
- How do I convince them they need facilitation?
- How do I convince them they need an experienced outside facilitator (versus someone who does it for them in house)?
- Or, if they were an inside facilitator, how do I convince my colleagues they can really use my facilitation skills?
Coincidentally, three colleagues and I recently co-created a new course on how to market and sell ToP facilitation methods. One of our course creators is a marketing specialist and director of national accounts with a trucking firm, OOCL. He has been deeply involved with ICA USA (one of the global creators of ToP methods) and is a practitioner of the methods. His name is Tom Price. My other co-creators were Judy Weddle of Facilitation Services Chicago and Erness Wright-Irvin of the Facilitative Leadership Institute NOLA and EWI HealthCare Consulting, LLC in New Orleans. All of them helped me think about this blog. Thank you dear colleagues!
In addition to answering these four questions above, I can share a few examples of the value language we came up with by going through Tom’s amazing four -five step process. The words sounded familiar – Needs – Features – Benefits – Elevator Speeches – Value Propositions. The magic came when we were gently guided step by step through what is really a very complex process to non-marketing professionals. Being with a great instructor (Tom) and having the nurturing environment of fellow facilitators was so helpful. These familiar words went from being “noise” to living, breathing concepts. We came up with some great phrases to start sharing and promoting the value of facilitation to our clients. And we are going to share some of them with you!
If you have you been stuck about getting facilitation clients or finding the words to convince them they need your skills, we will help put words in your mouth and hopefully money in your pocket. By the way, Tom gave us another sweet secret about facilitators which we are going to share as well! More below.
Answers to your burning questions:
How do I find people who need facilitation?
Two sure fire ways that worked for me:
- 1. Talk to everybody you know well. You want people who respect you as a professional and as a person to make a case for hiring you. I asked some of my colleagues to think of 1-3 people that might need an outside facilitator to help them with things like strategic planning, team development, conflict resolution, etc. You may have to use some of our value proposition example language below to explain the value and benefits of facilitation to your referring colleagues.
- 2. You can also model or demonstrate facilitation methods that you use to networking groups you attend. For example, I chose to illustrate some thinking methods as well as some decision making tools to women business owners in my area. For project management colleagues, I had them use Buzan’s Mind Mapping and de Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats to think about a common project management issue. This gave my colleagues a good sense for how facilitation works. It also gave them some useful products. Finally, they experienced my stance and personality as a facilitator. It made them much more confident in referring me to their precious friends and colleagues.
How do I convince them they need facilitation?
Actually, you don’t need to convince them! You need to listen for their problems by asking them questions. If they say they are a health care professional working with families with disabilities, you might ask them to share what’s the most difficult part of their job. Once you learn that, you can think about how facilitation might help them do their job more easily and effectively and share that with them.
How do I convince them they need an experienced outside facilitator (versus someone who does it for them in house)?
You certainly don’t want to undermine the experience and skills of the inside facilitator person or team. But it might help to ask whether these in-house facilitators would benefit from being full participants in the meeting. You could also ask them whether these colleagues might like to co-facilitate with you as a way to grow their skills (2 for 1 deal!).
If I am an inside facilitator, how do I convince my colleagues they can really use my facilitation skills?
You may have taken some facilitation training and want a chance to practice and use your skills on a regular basis. You know and love what facilitation can do for the group. Talk to 3 or 4 of your colleagues who run a lot of meetings and ask them if they would like some support or help in running the more important or challenging meetings. You might offer them the following benefits: they may wish to be more fully involved in the meeting, not overly influence the outcomes or discussion, and simply be given the gift of time and energy in not having to plan a complex meeting. Talk about your skills everywhere and offer to run a small portion of a regular meeting with a new tool you wish to share.
Value Proposition Language
The examples shared below apply to ToP methods we drafted (and I have adapted for this blog) during the course we noted above.Please adapt and use freely. Think about the specific qualities of the processes you use, the needs of your sector or team and really focus on how your skills and methods are unique and helpful to your sector — adapt our words but make sure they “sparkle” like this sparkling water.
Did you know?
ToP methods are result-oriented group problem solving dynamic for companies, organizations, and communities.
We can help you FOCUS Your Teams for Engagement and Effectiveness!
Experience the power of shared leadership to ensure all voices are heard, create efficient teams and enable focused, consensus-based decision-making.
- We expand your understanding of effective leadership.
- We help you tap into the value of shared contributions, increased engagement and effectiveness.
- We provide you with structured frameworks for focused, consensus-based planning and decision making.
Using ToP Methods is Like Getting an “ENERGY BOOST” For Your Meetings!
ToP facilitation methods make it easy to keep meetings on track, promote creative ideas, and include every voice.
- They help make every meeting meaningful.
- They provide a roadmap which ensures efficient, on-track and inclusive meetings.
- They build your team’s confidence in getting their work done.
Your job as a leader just got a whole lot easier!
Well run meetings are THE key to get your teams solving problems, making great decisions, providing essential feedback on critical issues, learning and growing together and generally getting the job done. Using a highly reputable professional facilitator can help you with:
- Energized, focused, aligned, and forward-looking teams
- Less wasted time in meetings
- Timely, well deliberated decisions
- Respectful, supportive communication
Tom’s Last Sweet Secret
Tom said facilitators are natural sales people. He said, “Listen for their needs”. Well, facilitators are trained listeners. You’ve got this one! Here is a little audio clip of me listening for needs with a pretend client. Judy Weddle was my pretend client. It is not perfect but you get the idea.
When you listen to your prospective clients, listen for words that indicate where they might be struggling. That is their need. Then think about ways you could meet that need through a facilitation process. Be excited about the possibility of how you can help because it is true. You can help them solve the problem with a well facilitated session and the right people in the room.
P.S. We hope you might attend our next one day “Getting Facilitation Business” course coming up likely in July in Chicago – watch for our date announcement in the next few weeks.