Becoming a consultant in today’s market is filled with both opportunities and challenges. On a positive note, the consulting industry is expected to grow by 14% through 2028, ensuring there’s a high demand for deep level knowledge. However, with healthy job growth also comes fierce competition, especially when you account for the fact that just 10 consulting firms own more than 40% of the market in North America.
Still, being a new consultant doesn’t have to put you at a disadvantage. When you have something unique to offer that people are willing to pay money for, then it’s simply a matter of connecting with the right clients at the right time.
Here’s how to start prospecting for your ideal consulting clients:
Understand What Your Ideal Client Looks Like
Professional consultants realize they don’t need to be everything to everyone to attract quality clientele. Rather, you can be more successful when you niche down and provide specific services for specific problems.
Take inventory of your own skill set first: What is in your knowledge base? In what areas do you feel confident that you can make your client successful? What results are you capable of helping your client achieve? These are your solutions that you offer.
Working backward, you can begin to vocalize who your ideal client is and the problems they have.
Some points to consider:
- What is your ideal client’s job title?
- What industry are they in?
- Where are they located?
- What is their experience level and solving the types of problems you can solve?
- How much should they be willing to spend to make their problems go away?
When marketing your consulting services, you’ll be tailoring your messaging to your ideal client, so it’s important to first understand who you’re talking to. Know who you’re aiming for, then start planning a prospecting strategy to reach only those clients.
Build Expertise Around Your Brand
Before you start reaching out to potential clients, it’s important to create a high authority brand image that you will present to them upon connecting.
Building a brand requires more than making a website and logo. If you want people to associate your name and consulting business with being the best in your industry, you’ll need to prove that you’ve earned that right, and original content provides an excellent vehicle.
For example, you can start a blog that highlights your expertise in your field. Focus on case studies of clients that you’ve worked with and the results you achieved. Or offer high-level insight and actionable tips that can help your readers solve problems or answer questions. Build an email list for your blog to scale your networking and ensure your readers never miss an update.
A great way to get started with your blog is to consider the following:
- What are frequently asked questions you receive?
- What are the top search queries that your ideal client is searching for on Google?
- What types of exclusive content can you write about that’ll entice your target client base to subscribe to your newsletters?
Asking yourself these questions will give you a head start on the type of content you can write about and also how you can further nurture any new subscribers that join your list.
You can also attend in-person events, book speaking gigs, or even write a book highlighting your experience. Anything that will give you an authoritative voice can help support your brand and position your expertise.
Further, when companies are finally to the point where they call in a consultant, they’ve likely been spinning their wheels on the same problem for months, even years, without moving the needle. And when they decide to bring in a consultant, they want that issue fixed yesterday.
Identify Potential Clients on LinkedIn
Now that you’ve built your expert persona and know what the ideal client looks like, start looking for clients that fit your profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn should be the first line of defense because it’s the professional’s network. You can locate prospects via company, job title, and a number of other details to narrow your search.
In addition, connecting on LinkedIn gives them a direct connection to the professional persona you’ve built. They can view your expertise and endorsements and even respond directly within the platform.
One thing to keep in mind as well is that you have to provide some sort of value as well (e.g. free guide, checklist, slideshare, etc.). What I’ve found is that cold outreaches are starting to get more challenging because you’re competing with a ton of other people who are doing the same thing you’re doing.
Check out these two blog posts to learn more about how you can implement lead gen:
Use Icebreakers to Create Warm Leads
Prospecting can be tough work, especially if you get discouraged easily. In fact, 90% of C-level executives say they never respond to cold calls or cold emails. You’re going to hear no a lot more often than you hear the word yes, but don’t take it personally. The people who do respond will be glad you reached out.
Also know that you may have to reach out more than just two or three times. Prospecting takes time, and it’s not always the most fun thing in the world because you also have to get use to people never responding or even saying no. Once you are able to make that initial contact, make sure the conversations with prospective clients are all about them.
Once you can earn the attention and trust of your prospect, you can advance the conversation to talk about the problems they have and how you might be able to solve them.
Connect with Industry Leaders to Build Strategic Partnerships
There’s an old-but-gold saying that in business, it’s not what you know but rather who you know. No business is an island, even as a solopreneur. As a consultant, networking can be the single most effective marketing tool in your arsenal because it gives credibility to the expert image you created.
Studies show that you are 58% more likely to get referrals from acquaintances compared to friends, while 40% of prospects become paying customers after an in-person meeting.
Essentially, your network is your net worth, so it’s important to take every opportunity to make connections and build strategic partnerships that can help your business thrive. You never know when someone in your network will have an opportunity to refer business to you.
Head back to the blog for more entrepreneurial insights.