How to avoid putting potential clients off with a lack of confidence

As an HR consultant you obviously want to make the most of any potential lead, any opportunity to get client work. But are you doing things to put potential clients off? Something that may undoubtedly do that is lack of confidence. It’s crucial that both clients and referrers feel confident in the person they trust with giving them HR advice, and if that person doesn’t seem confident themselves, it doesn’t inspire confidence in others.

Many new HR consultants suffer with lack of confidence. It’s not at all surprising – this is often a very different working environment with new responsibilities and accountabilities. Confidence usually grows, and there are ways of addressing that if it doesn’t, with support and mentoring. But in the meantime, here are five things you can do to prevent a lack of confidence putting clients and potential clients off.

1. Don’t undercharge

Undercharging is really common in new consultants, and charging what you’re worth is a subject I harp on about frequently. But as well as the many other reasons for not undercharging, it does imply a lack of confidence. If you charge less than others, or lower than you should, it can give the impression you don’t believe what you’re offering is worth much.

People value what they pay highly for, and, just as you wouldn’t expect a cheap pair of shoes to last long or be particularly comfortable, you wouldn’t expect a cheap supplier of business services to be of the highest quality, so unless you’re a business that doesn’t value HR in the first place, or is on an extremely tight budget and is not fussy about how good the advice they’re getting is, they’ll go elsewhere.

2. Don’t be apologetic

Many of us have a tendency to be terribly British, and apologise for absolutely nothing at all. If you’re giving an opinion on something that involves some implied criticism of either the business or a previous consultant, or are putting your fees up (are you putting them up high enough?), or aren’t available 24-7 on demand, you don’t need to apologise for these things.

You’ve been asked for your professional opinion, you’re worth the rise in fees, and are undoubtedly not being paid nearly enough to be at the beck and call of a client. You can be polite and respectful about all those things without being apologetic – doing that risks revealing a lack of confidence in your own worth, which in turn can reduce a client’s perception of your worth.

3. Don’t be vague in recommendations

If you’re doing a review of documents for a potential client, or of a process or initiative they have in place currently, or you’re looking at a situation that needs addressing and considering ways forward, be clear and decisive about your recommendations. The client or potential client is actively seeking your professional opinion, either on a paid or unpaid basis. They need guidance from you.

Whilst it’s of course fine (and often sensible) to give a couple of options for ways forward, depending on the circumstances, being vague about what you think is needed will leave clients still not knowing what to do, and worrying that their HR consultant won’t be able to steer them with confidence through tricky situations.

4. Don’t underestimate (or under describe) the difference you can make

Sometimes consultants lacking in confidence may undersell themselves, by being very cautious about expressing the positive impact they can have on a client. Lack of confidence in themselves may make them think they won’t make that difference, or it may be that they think a client won’t believe they can do what they promise. But of course if you describe accurately and with confidence the difference you can make to a small business, they are more likely to be keen to work with you!

5. Fake it until you make it!

Acting confident does tend to inspire confidence, so even when you’re feeling unsure or worried, fake it, as far as possible! It wouldn’t be misplaced confidence you were faking, and it is likely to improve your confidence as you see people respond to you, meaning that you’ll “make it” sooner!

If the freedom of running your own business appeals to you but you’re struggling with a lack of confidence, worried about finding clients and earning enough money, a franchise could be the right choice for you. For an initial chat and to find out how we can boost your confidence and set you on a new career path, do get in touch!