5 Ways to Land More Clients

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Author : Michael Zipursky
Published: September 06, 2012

Want more consulting clients? Almost every consultant in the world would say "Yes!" to that. So let me share with you some effective ways to help you generate more leads and grow your consulting business. Below are 5 strategies to get things moving for you...

1) Activate the Inactive

Almost every business has a set of clients that are inactive. You may have serviced them a few months ago or several years ago. The fact is, you're not servicing them now. Maybe they stopped doing business with you because you lost contact with them, or they took a break from buying the service they previously had...or maybe it was because they bought everything you could offer them - and there was nothing left for them to buy. Re-activating inactive clients can be one of the quickest and most profitable types of business for a consultant.

Ideas: Tell your inactive clients that you miss them. Offer them a consultation to assess their current situation. Give them a special incentive to come back and do business with you again. You can do this by email, newsletter, direct mail, or even a telephone call.

2) Partner with Professionals

Through networking and going about your daily business you are bound to meet other professionals. If you're a management consultant, you might get to know a marketing consultant, a branding expert, a social media whiz to name a few. Each of you can offer a complementary service. You don't directly compete. So why not build each of your businesses at the same time. Each time you are referred business you can pay a referral fee to the partner that referred it to you...or you may choose to forgo any fees and simply mutually refer each other business.

Ideas: Announce to your clients that you've partnered with other professionals. If they need assistance with an area of expertise that you don't focus on, they will be much more likely to use one of your recommended providers than your own. If each of you has a newsletter or blog, you can mention the additional services and partners you have.

3) Grab the Mic

An effective way to generate new leads for your consulting practice is to become a speaker. You don't have to be an expert speaker that travels the circuit for most of the year to make this work. There are several local organizations in almost every city that will be more than happy to have you come and speak to their members. Take that opportunity and jump on the stage to provide educational and valuable information to the attendees. You'll quickly be surrounded after your talk by people asking for your card and wanting to learn more about how you can help them. After all, if you're speaking to the group, you must be an 'expert'.

Ideas: Look to your local chamber of commerce, industry specific associations and groups (think real estate boards, medical groups, dairy farmers, etc). If you're just getting started offer to speak for free. You'll get more back through new leads and business than you would with a speaking fee anyways.

4) Take Action Now

Many projects are lost when consultants take too long to seal the deal. The prospective client shows interest, they request information and the consultant says they'll get back to them. They are all excited about the new business they have just 'landed'. They get back to the prospect the next week only to find out that the prospect has changed their mind. They were ready to buy, but because the consultant didn't take action right away to win the business the buyer may have changed his mind or talked himself out of moving forward - even if moving forward would be the best thing for his business.

Ideas: When a buyer shows interest in your services have a process in place to move them as quickly and efficiently as possible to signing the agreement. The faster you move the more likely you will be to win the business.

5) Demonstrate Value

When you're convinced that you can provide value to a company don't be shy to offer them a no-risk deal where they can see firsthand how they stand to benefit from hiring you. The biggest hesitation most buyers have is whether or not they can trust you and if you'll actually do what you say you will. Demonstrations can help in both regards.

Ideas: Offer to conduct a free (or low cost) analysis of an area of the company that you feel you can provide the greatest benefit for. If the project has big potential you can even consider doing an initial analysis yourself and then getting in touch with the company and tell them that you have found several ways they can reduce costs/increase sales/improve efficiency, etc. That will almost always get their attention.

There are countless ways to get more consulting clients. These are a just a few of them and I hope you have found them helpful. Any others that you'd like to add? Add them in the comments below.

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Robert Bullock
(September 24, 2012 08:13 am)

Michael,
Loved your article - it's a topic that is very relevant to us external consultants. I fell into the external field and work for an I/O Psych consulting firm in Seattle and have been loving it ever since! Well, everything but the sales that is!

About your article, #3 really hit home (but all are great advice!). Speaking has been a very good way to generate new business. For example, recently we were selected to be in a sort of "vendor pool" for a very large local organization. The problem was that we could not advertise our services at all - a department or director had to read our bios and call us to initiate a potential contract. Instead of waiting around, we signed up to teach various training/development workshops that were open to all employees. While the teaching itself didn't really pay, we have since started contracting with a couple of different departments.

I would add two more points - like you said, there are countless ways to build your business and these are two that have been working well for us recently.

First, respond to every relevant RFP and RFQQ you can find. Even though they can take a lot of time and the work is not guaranteed, you still get two initial benefits. First, you're getting your name out there and second, you're building up a large collection of data, which makes writing future RFPs much easier and quicker. Winning RFPs is our #1 source for new business right now, but it took years of searching, writing,and losing to get to where we are now. One thing helped most was requesting a debrief/feedback session with the requesting organization after every RFP we lost. Although a little painful, the feedback helped us continually improve our proposal writing process.

Second, focus on your web presence by increasing your search engine optimization, leveraging social media, and making sure your website is FULL of value (#5). We do this by writing and posting useful articles full of practical application at least one time per week (and being sure to share each one on facebook, linkedin, google+, etc), making easy-to-use tools and templates free for download, and posting examples of work that we've done (ex: 360 feedback report with identifiers and questions removed). Our traffic has increased from 1-5 hits per day to nearly 100, which is not bad for a 3-person firm, and we have also been getting a lot of "Contact us" forms filled out, a few of which have turned into contracts. One thing that we do is to never ever require someone to give their email in order to read the latest article or download a template. We've found that if people really like what they see, they will contact us and they have.
Hope this helps, and Michael thanks again for a wonderful article!!
Sincerely,
Robert Bullock