TSS #009: Win More L&D Gigs by Mastering Market Sophistication

Sep 02, 2023

Read time: 5 minutes

Many aspiring L&D consultants face immense frustration trying to win new consulting gigs.

You may have robust experience designing training programs, but for some reason, clients aren't hiring you.

This leads to financial uncertainty, wasted time pitching, and stagnation.

Why Typical Sales Tactics Fall Flat

L&D consultants often rely on sending proposals or cold pitching services like training audits, instructional design, or e-learning design.

But these tactics often fail because they don't connect with how clients think.

Some reasons they don't work:

  • They attract stakeholders not involved in actual decisions
  • They fail to showcase the true value of your experience
  • They don't align to key organizational objectives

In other words, these spray and pray tactics lack precision.

They don't uncover the client's real challenges, goals, and motivations.

The Key is Finding the "Unique Mechanism"

To make your offers truly irresistible, identify the "Unique Mechanism of the Problem" and the "Unique Mechanism of the Solution."

The Unique Mechanism of the Problem is the root cause underlying all the client's L&D frustrations.

It's their fatal flaw or unseen obstacle.

Articulating this creates an "Aha!" moment.

For example, the problem may be:

  • Lack of real-world simulations
  • Ignoring the importance of organizational culture
  • Insufficient feedback mechanisms
  • Inadequate needs assessment

Your Unique Mechanism of the Solution is your special process for solving their problem.

It's your "silver bullet" method that works when nothing else has.

Position yourself as the cure to their unique mechanism of the problem.

Understanding Market Sophistication in L&D

Eugene Schwartz's insights from his book, Breakthrough Advertising, can be pivotal for L&D consultants.

He highlights five stages of market sophistication, which can guide you to better tailor your offerings to your target audience.

In L&D, the stages can be illustrated as:

  • Level 1: L&D consultancy is new. Simple claim: "We offer transformative training programs."
  • Level 2: Competition grows. Expanded claim: "Our training programs boost productivity by 30%."
  • Level 3: The market gets crowded. Add a unique mechanism: "Our ADAPT methodology ensures seamless skill integration."
  • Level 4: Stand out amidst myriad mechanisms. Emphasize: "ADAPT method reduces training time by half while doubling effectiveness."
  • Level 5: It's about the experience. "With us, you're not just training employees; you're future-proofing your business."

To further crystallize the concept, let's look at two concrete examples of this:

EXAMPLE 1: Medtech Sales Training
  • Level 1: "We provide sales training for medtech companies."
  • Level 2: "We train medtech sales teams on effective virtual selling and digital tools."
  • Level 3: "Our ENGAGE digital selling system rapidly boosts medtech sales performance online."
  • Level 4: "Sales reps trained on our ENGAGE system land 50% more contracts within 3 months, guaranteed."
  • Level 5: "Working with us will give your team the empowerment that comes from mastering modern selling."
EXAMPLE 2: Construction Safety Training for Gen Z
  • Level 1: "We provide construction safety training."
  • Level 2: "We create digital construction safety courses optimized for Gen Z learning preferences."
  • Level 3: "Our RAMP methodology rapidly improves safety knowledge retention for Gen Z construction workers."
  • Level 4: "Workers trained using our RAMP system have 50% fewer safety incidents within 6 months, guaranteed."
  • Level 5: "Collaborating with us will give you the peace of mind that comes from truly protecting your Gen Z workforce."

By understanding where your prospective client lies in this sophistication spectrum, and tailoring your pitch based on their sophistication level, you ensure your offer resonates more powerfully.

Turn Your Offer into a System

Don't just share an idea or vague proposal.

Turn your solution into a concrete step-by-step system, formula, or process.

People want to buy a clear path to follow.

For instance, you could have:

  • A "Leadership Alignment System" that gets executives bought into learning programs.
  • An "Impact Framework" that ties L&D to strategic goals.
  • A "Knowledge Reinforcement Process" that doubles information retention.

Making it systematic builds confidence clients will get promised results.

Action Steps

  1. Identify your client's market sophistication level based on competitor landscape and conversations.
  2. Pinpoint the unique mechanism behind your client's L&D struggles.
  3. Position your experience as the unique mechanism solution.
  4. Turn this into a concrete system or process.
  5. Match messaging to sophistication levels focused on their unique mechanism problem and your systematic solution.
  6. Quantify the outcomes you can guarantee.


Succeeding as an L&D consultant requires more than just expertise.

It demands keen business intuition.

You must grasp your client's unique pain points, goals, and market sophistication.

Then match your solution and messaging accordingly.

The key steps are:

Pinpoint Your Client's Sophistication

Analyze where they fall on the spectrum from unaware to highly mature. This determines the claims that will resonate.

Uncover the Crucial Mechanisms

Identify both the root cause of their struggles and your proprietary methodology for solving it. These become pivotal in your pitch.

Make Your Process Systematic

Don't propose vague ideas. Map out a concrete step-by-step system for achieving results. This builds confidence.

Synchronize Your Offer

Align your messaging to their sophistication level. Make their unique mechanism problem clear and your systematic solution the antidote.

Mastering this framework elevates your consultancy above narrow expertise.

You become a partner who grasps the deeper business intricacies needed to drive success.

This positions you not just as a talented L&D advisor but a strategic asset attuned to the client's changing needs.

Your value stems from insight as much as knowledge.

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