Using Workshops To Win 6-Figure Consulting Projects With Andres Molina: Podcast #328

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Forget the endless hustle of chasing small clients. Join Andres Molina, a Cross-Cultural Trainer at Global Manager Consulting, in cracking the code to break into the big leagues and secure high-paying consulting gigs. Discover his winning strategy that leverages powerful workshops to showcase your expertise and convert attendees into high-value clients. Andres also explains how to position yourself as the go-to expert on LinkedIn and attract ideal clients effortlessly. Stop spinning your wheels on small projects. Tune in and learn how to use workshops to land the high-paying consulting projects you deserve!

In this episode with Andres, you’ll learn how to:

  • Connect with decision-makers inside large corporations.
  • Create sticky customers that don’t leave.
  • Use LinkedIn to position yourself as an expert.
  • Build a team of freelance experts.
  • Structure payments to win more business.

Book your complimentary growth session call!

Connect with Andres on LinkedIn.

Learn more about Andres’ business.

Andres, welcome.

Thank you very much.

Looking forward to our conversation here. I thought we’d start off, you’ve worked with companies like Danone, Bancolombia, Siemens, and Bangalore University. These are very different types of organizations all around the world. Tell me what went into landing those companies as clients. Why did they select to work with you?

Let’s say the common thread between all of them is that they have multicultural issues. If you see them, most of them are multinationals or at least local companies that have either providers or clients abroad. They started having cultural clashes. At some point, they realized it was affecting their business. That’s when they raise their hand and say, “This is bigger than we can handle. We need some help.”

I want to get a lot deeper into that in terms of how they find you, the marketing behind it, and how you built up the business to where it is. For everybody, can you share a little bit more about the size and the scope of the business? How many people are involved? Where is it based? The average size of, let’s say, engagement or annual revenues. Anything that you’re comfortable sharing.

We are a small company. We are in total six people. Nevertheless, I’m the only fixed employee. The other five people are freelancers. Depending on the project, I activate these or that or that. They are anthropologists, psychologists, and sociologists. In different projects, I work with different people. In 2023, we ended up with 2.3 million doors. The average engagement, I would say is about $160,000, or $180,000, or something like that.

Intercultural Competence

You talked about the reason that most of your clients in these organizations bring you in is because they’re having some intercultural competence issue or a bit of a clash between cultures. We’re in a very global environment these days. I’m wondering when people reach out or when you reach out, in general, in most of these organizations, do they see the value of investing in intercultural competence and getting help in that cultural area? Do they have the budget for that already prepared or is this something that you find you have to educate people a lot about and talk to them about and make a case for?

I have to educate people because this is the hardest part they don’t realize that they have a problem. Sometimes they openly say, “Andres, you’re selling smoke. I don’t have a problem.” I am like, “Is this happening to you? Is this other thing happening to you? Is this also happening to you? There you go, then you have a problem.” I would say 80% of my time trying to open my client’s eyes in terms of, “This is not a normal thing. You shouldn’t just take it for granted. This is something that is causing future problems, at least future or maybe present problems. We need to take care of them.”

How do you get a seat at the table? How do you even get the meeting to have the opportunity to have that conversation with these executives or with these decision-makers if they don’t see that the problem exists? A challenge a lot of people or consultants have, getting somebody’s attention or getting to the point where they can have a conversation if the person on the other side doesn’t necessarily see that there’s a problem or that there’s value to be created. How do you make sure that you get yourself into that position where you can ask those questions and then start to educate that buyer?

To tell you the truth, I’m pretty bad at advertising myself. Most of my clients come for referrals. People who saw me in a company then moved to another company. They realized they had the same problem and they called me. Usually, what I see is that people don’t consider that an intercultural clash is the source of a problem or the source of a bad performance in their business.

What I have to do is, from the beginning, show them cases. That’s the best way to show, “This is the picture before and this is the picture after.” Otherwise, they’re not going to buy it. They’re not going to understand or maybe they do understand, but I am not that clear in making them understand what is the advantage of working with this or working with me.

When you say case, are you referring to a case study usually like a before and after situation? Are these case studies from work that you have done or do you also pull from case studies that are out there in the marketplace that you found online or read about?

Consulting Success Podcast | Andres Molina | Powerful Workshops

Usually, there are many bestseller cases that everybody is talking about. I take those famous cases and I show them then I go, let’s say, a lower level. I show them what I’ve been doing with my own clients, these companies I’ve been working with. I said, “Now you see what is going on in the market. I will show you what am I able to do in your company.” This is what I did in the last company. They were having such and such problems. Now they are dealing with this matter.

What I would love is if we could hit the rewind button a little bit in your journey because I know you’re saying that most of your business, if not, sounds like the vast majority, comes through referrals. It’s through people. You’ve done work, word spreads, and people move organizations. They bring you into the new organizations. That’s fantastic. That’s a testament to how you must be doing great work for your clients.

A Seat At The Table

Take us back in time because in the early days, maybe you didn’t get as many referrals or you didn’t have that track record of success. I’m wondering, how did you initially establish yourself when you didn’t already have that track record of working with a lot of companies providing consulting services and helping to solve these problems? How did you get your foot in the door in the early stages? How did you get to have a seat at the table to have a conversation with those people?

My major is international business. At the beginning of my career, I started working with multinationals. I’m always in international business or new market openings and so on. I worked in America, then I moved to Germany, to Austria, then Colombia. In all these countries, in the multinational companies, I worked in the international sales department.

It was a place where because of the nature of my work, I had these clashes with people from all over the world on a daily basis. One day I asked myself, “Is this so complicated? Does this have to be so painful or working with people from other countries could be a little bit more softer or easier?” I started doing my research then I realized that there was a wave of authors writing about it, throwing into the market some researchers, very interesting researchers.

I started applying this knowledge to the companies I was working with. It started giving me a lot of benefits from day one. I said, “This is something. This is a powerful tool.” I started working with my own company, my own teammates, and my own clients. People from other companies or from other departments would call me and say, “Andres, you solved this problem, or you seem to know a lot about working with other people. Can you help me with this? We are negotiating so much that we are bringing from another country and so on.”

I started that way. One day, one company called me from Argentina and asked me, “How much would you ask me to come here to Argentina and help me with this situation because I have this issue with Chinese providers?” I was like, “I have no idea how to charge you because I’ve never done it. This is not my job.” I said like a random number and they yes. I realized that it was very cheap. They said, “Yes, come here.”

I went there and we started working then a Chinese provider called me because they were involved in this machinery that was being sent to Argentina. That’s how they met me. They called me and told me, “We’re a Chinese mining company. We have a lot of issues in some African countries. Can you help us with that?” I started working with this Chinese company then some other people heard about it and that’s how I started rolling and moving from one country to another.

To tell you the truth, it was never in my mind to become either a solo or a consulting company. Never. I was just doing it because I enjoyed it and because I was curious about the way you can work with different cultures and people from other countries in a profitable way and a way that you can get the best out of that relationship. I never ever saw it as a business.

When did you realize that, “This is a business. It has great growth potential. I’m making more money than I’m even working in a company?” At what point did you get clear on, “I should be serious and go all in on this?”

When I started realizing that my agenda was getting full, there was some point that I had to decide. I keep on going, working in my office daily work in the company in a multinational or I jump out and start my own business. I was doing it in parallel and it was hard sometimes because some of these clients require me to travel.

In the company I was working with, I had to ask for three days of my vacation days. It was difficult. When I saw that there was like breakeven point if I dropped my current job and I jumped to the unknown then I decided. It was not an easy step. To tell you the truth, I did it twice. I jumped into my solo career and I started working with clients. After a few years, one American company, I was with them. After months, they called me, “Andres, what are your plans for the future? Do you want to come here and be the vice president of talent?”

You can work with different cultures and people from other countries in a way that’s both profitable and mutually beneficial. Click To Tweet

I was like, “I’ve never led a talent department. I’m very happy working by myself but let’s see what happens.” I started working with them. The only thing is I negotiated, “During the time I’m working with you, I am not looking for new clients but I will keep on attending my current clients.” They said, “We can deal with that.” After years, I jumped again to get to the solo.

Lead Generation

Let me ask you about lead generation for a moment because you mentioned most of businesses is referrals. It’s word of mouth. Is there anything that you do outside of focusing on delivering great work for your clients and communicating with them? Is there anything else that you feel contributes to the pipeline and building future business?

LinkedIn. I am not very active, as I said before. I am not good at advertising myself but I do like sharing some stories. That’s what I do on LinkedIn. From time to time, I write some articles or some cases or like, “This is what happened in my last visit to this client.” Even when I don’t advertise myself, I don’t invest in marketing or CEO. I don’t know how people find me there. I’ve got three interesting clients. They came from articles that I wrote just to nobody.

When you say articles, Andres, are you referring to like a post on LinkedIn? You put a post there like telling a story?

Yes, posts and articles on LinkedIn. There’s this, how you can post some documents or full documents. This is the stuff I do on LinkedIn.

When you say that you’re active on LinkedIn, give everybody a sense. How active? Are you posting every day or a few times a week? What does that look like?

I’m quiet on LinkedIn.

That’s okay. I just want to get a sense because some people have this belief because they’ve been told by “social media gurus” that you have to post non-stop or you have to do this or that. My belief and my observation is there are many different ways to grow a business. You need to find something that works for you. I’m interested in knowing what you’re doing so that people can get a sense and a different perspective.

I don’t post very frequently because the audience that I speak with or speak to is not an audience that is eager to see me doing something like changing my clothes or changing my background every day and seeing what I’m doing. I don’t do very frequent posting.

You have a presence but not that often.

Exactly. Let’s say every other month or something like that because when I go and write something, I put a lot into it. It’s quality over quantity, I would say.

When you say put a lot into it, it sounds like you’re not talking about a typical LinkedIn post. You’re doing a LinkedIn article. A longer article or is it a short post or both?

Consulting Success Podcast | Andres Molina | Powerful Workshops

Both. Sometimes when it is worth it and I have a good story. I go into it, the details, numbers, and stats. When I see that it is big enough, I’m going to hang the full document. Otherwise, I extract the main ideas. The ideas that I consider that would be helpful for somebody that is out there reading.

Makes sense. Let’s talk about the freelancers that you have. You mentioned the company, including the six people but you’re the only full-time employee. The other five are freelancers/contractors, depending on how you want to find them, where you live in the world and different laws and all that but how do you manage that?

Here’s the context behind it. A lot of people have trouble with or they’re trying to wrap their heads around and have a good approach to managing contractors and freelancers because it can be a bit of a chicken and egg. Let’s say you go out and all of a sudden, you get contacted by a large organization or a good size project.

Managing Contractors And Freelancers

You reach out to these five people and they’re busy. What do you do? Let’s say, these people, you’re not sure if they’re available, does that hold you back from maybe trying to go out and get business? Can you share with us just your mindset overall? What do you think about this? Is there anything that you do to manage capacity and make sure that you have the people and resources available to continue growing the business?

I started asking people to come and help me because of the need. It was not a planned thing. It was that when some projects are so big and they require a lot of fieldwork, going to the field, interviewing people, or talking to communities and things like that takes a lot of time. Sometimes if I want to do it by myself, it’s going to take very long. Sometimes, clients are not willing to wait. They require a fast solution.

I need to go and find people. Sometimes, to be honest, I don’t have the capacity that these contractors or freelancers have because as I said, I’m an international negotiator. I deal with negotiations, commercial staff, and marketing. My freelancers are anthropologists, psychologists, or sociologists. I’ll give you an example. When I started working with the Chinese company, the situation was an intercultural clash between the mining company, the Chinese company, and the local communities.

The workers of the company were part of this community. The clashes were not between the workers and the company in terms of, “You are not being fair, to the working conditions.” Nothing like that. It’s, “You are affecting my family. You are affecting my kids. You are affecting my community.” In this case, the right person to help me is anthropologist and sociologists. In some other negotiations where I apply these cross-cultural but sometimes the projects, for example, negotiation between a company and a union. Therefore, I do require more organizational psychologists and people with these different profiles.

Let’s take a situation where maybe you’re contacted by a company, or a person that wants your help. When that happens, what’s your process? You’re going to think about who you need. Maybe which contractors or freelancers do you need on this project? You send them an email but when you do that, how confident do you feel? What percentage out of 100 are these people going to be available for you? If they’re not available for you, what do you do then?

When I contact the contractors, it is because I am 100% sure that I already won the project.

Do you say that you wanted or you won the project?

I won.

You already won the project.

When I write, I invest a lot into it. It’s quality over quantity. Click To Tweet

The process would be like this. When I contact a client, I hear their needs. I show them what we can do for them. Once we negotiate what is going to be the intervention or the help that they are going to receive from me, I go back and contact the freelancers because then I know what exactly the client is contracting me for. Therefore, I know what profile of a freelancer I will need. I contact them with the security that there is going to be a project. I usually get a yes because these projects that I work with are not immediate projects. Usually, they are not calling me to start tomorrow, but we need to have some plan.

How long typically from the time they say, “We want to do this,” to the project being started where the freelancer needs to get involved?

A couple of weeks. When I call my freelancers, they usually are busy at the moment but we can plan because we are talking two weeks or three weeks ahead so we can organize time.

That’s going to be very interesting for some people to hear because maybe a typical assumption that many people would have is that as part of your proposal, you would mention either the names of the team members or at least the title or the group of experts on your team. My guess is, correct if I’m wrong on this. You may mention the talent and the team that you bring to the project, but you’re not mentioning the names of the people in the actual proposal or the conversation until afterward. Is that correct or is there something different there?

That is correct.

Workshops

It makes sense. Let’s talk about your actual services and how you deliver them. When I went to your website, your main offering is workshops. You also said that your average project value is North of $150,000 per project. That might sound like a lot for a workshop. Walk me through what the typical service offer looks like. When you begin with a client, does it start with a workshop and then go in a different direction? Is it multiple workshops? Is it one big workshop? What does the actual delivery and service look like?

The workshops go from half a day to three days. That’s usually the length of the workshops. I have two workshops. One is a closed company. It’s just for one company, in-house for this company. There are other workshops that are open to the public. I work with these workshops very often because they are a very good way to show people what I do and what they can get.

For example, usually, what I do is I give 2 or 3 entrances for former clients because during the breaks, and when we are in speaking time. These people are going to say, “In my company, it happened. Anders helped us for this and that.” All other people hear that. That’s when I tell you that, the mouth-to-mouth. They start, “Can you elaborate on that?” They start or they ask for their phones, “Can I go visit your company and see what happened after Anders’s job?” That’s how former clients help me get.

How do you market those workshops? I know you said you don’t do a lot of marketing. You have network and connection but specifically with these more public workshops where you’re inviting different people from different companies. How are you filling the seats for those?

It is usually, again, LinkedIn but direct mailing. The people who hire me usually, depending on the size of the company, are either in the HR department or the general managers if the companies are smaller. I target these people and I start sending them information about not only the workshops because I don’t believe in advertising just like that.

It’s like more, “Do you know what happened to a company similar to you? They have such a situation like the one you are crossing through now. This is what happened. This is how they were. This is how they are now and this is what we did for them.” Two out of ten, maybe answer. I don’t know if this is not a very good rate, 20%. Out of those, maybe half of them say, “I want to work with you,” and they’re doing something.

A quick question on that, each year, how many times will you send out direct mail a campaign or letters to people? Is that happening throughout the years or twice a year? What does that look like?

Consulting Success Podcast | Andres Molina | Powerful Workshops

In order for me to organize myself, I do it every two months. Every other month, I take a new list of people. I prepare the mailing which is some videos, some words that some of my clients send me, or interviews that people have made of my job, and so on then I send them. I would do it every two months and I have a program where the first time I sent this information. After months, if they haven’t answered I send another different information then there is a third wave of information. If they don’t answer on the third, then I suppose they’re not interested.

Each time that you do one of these campaigns, how many different touch points are there? Let’s say, you send an email then you send a direct mail, then a video. Are there multiple touchpoints during one campaign?

No, it’s just a mailing campaign where I send a mail.

Do you send one letter?

One mail with all this information.

It’s a package. You have a bunch of information in one letter or one. How many people do you send that to typically every two months?

One hundred twenty maybe or 150.

Out of 120 people, you might get 23 or 24 people responding. Of those, typically how many do you find will maybe join one of the workshops?

Out of the 100 in something, about ten people attend the workshops.

Are the workshops in person or you’re doing it live or is it online?

Usually, they are in person but from time to time, because people requested them, then I do it online. To tell you the truth, I like to be on stage. My workshops are very interactive. It’s not very like I’m the professor here and giving us the one song.

You’re bringing the energy.

Workshops are a good way to show people what you do and what they can get. Click To Tweet

I prefer it.

I’m glad that we’ve dug a little bit deeper here because this sounds like it does contribute to the growth of the business. I’m wondering when you look at this effort, you’re bringing in, let’s say, ten new people every two months into experience you. There’ll be a percentage of those people, I’d say out of maybe out of ten people, you have 1 or 2 people that will move into a larger scale project each time. Is that also about accurate?

Usually, they come either from their former clients. I would say 6 of those 10 people, maybe 3 would say yes to a project. Once I was in, we started with small projects then bigger ones, and we are growing. When I say that an average project is 160. It’s not that I invoice at once. One invoice is 160 the whole package of a client like average.

Are the workshops paid or free for the people that you’re saying that the direct mail to and those that you are inviting to come?

That’s a strategic decision. Sometimes, I decide to do it for free, depending on the people or the location. If I know that there are clues that people going there. I require that these people be there. I open and do it either for free or for any symbolic fee or whatever.

What’s a symbolic fee? Maybe $1,000 or $50. Give me a sense of what that looks like.

$25 or something like that just for people to know that they are paying for something. When you give something free, they don’t value it. They don’t go because they think it’s so worthless.

That makes sense. A lot of your work starts with a workshop and that’s how people will bring you in. You’ll start doing a small-scale project that might expand to another and to another. If you look at the lifetime value of a typical client, it might be $160,000, give or take.

That’s right.

Scaling And Growing

I’m wondering what you think about scaling and growing this business because now it’s you, as the full-time person, these five freelancers that you bring in when needed. Before we hit the record button, you mentioned this is a good business. You have good margins. There’s solid revenue, especially for the size that you are.

What do you think about growth? Are you looking to maintain where you are and get more systems in place? Is your goal to maybe remove yourself a little bit from some of the delivery? Is your goal to bring in more full-time people and build a team? Talk to me a little bit about the future and what you’re working towards.

I don’t think I would like to make this a big company because I enjoy attending the clients myself, being the one throwing the workshops, and doing the speeches and everything. At some point, if things keep growing, I will need some of these freelancers to become full-time employees. The good question is will I wait until we grow to hire them or will I do the best I can to make it grow and to hire them? That would be a good question for me.

Consulting Success Podcast | Andres Molina | Powerful Workshops

What we’ve observed with clients over the years, oftentimes when you make the commitment, first of all, to back up. If you know that you want to grow, if you know that you want to make a bigger impact, if that decision is made, what we’ve seen quite often is that when you make the decision to invest in building the team, then you go to work on it.

Whereas for some people, if they don’t do that, if they say, “I’ll wait until I get to that next level, then I’ll decide.” You’re never fully pushing the gas pedal as much as you can because you’re balancing that. If you’ve made the investment, now you have people that you feel a responsibility to. That often drives the founder or co-founders. Whatever it might be, push a little bit more and take a bit more action, which leads to creating growth.

I read something, which I’ve heard before but it restated or brought it back into my mind, which is that what most successful leaders focus on is growth. It’s not about saving money. Saving money or cutting expenses is fine but that’s not what most leaders care about. Most leaders care about growth. If you find ways to optimize and cut expenses, great.

What leaders want more than just that is finding ways to grow the organization or grow the business or to grow the impact. These are great questions. As we talked before, there’s no right answer. It all depends on what you want and what you want to create. Once you’re clear on that, then you can figure out the best path to get there.

You’re right. Maybe my fear as an entrepreneur is that at some point if I grow, I will lose the chance to work with my clients. I would say that would be my real fear. Being able to manage that, we can grow.

You can grow. Another option, and we can chat after on this too, Andres, but increase your fees. If you want to grow in terms of revenue and profit even beyond where you are now by simply increasing your fees. It means that you can continue working with the same number of clients but make significantly more with each client that you work with.

As long as the lead flow and the opportunities are there, that’s a great way. We’ve always found the lowest-hanging fruit is usually pricing before you even do anything else. We can chat afterward if you want. I want to thank you so much for coming on and sharing some of your story and your journey. A lot of people can learn from this. I want to make sure that people can learn more about you and the work that you do, Andres. Where’s the best place for people to go to learn more?

The web page is www.GlobalManager.co. You can find there all the portfolio, the services, and everything that we are doing.

People can also check you out on LinkedIn if they want to learn more. Thank you again so much for coming on.

Thank you very much, Michael.

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