Consulting Certifications Don’t Matter

Certificate-for-Consultants

I received an email from a consultant the other day asking me what type of certification they should get to help them become a more successful consultant.

I replied, “you don’t need any certification to be successful in this business.”

Then just yesterday I spoke with another consultant in Australia that told me he was part of two different consulting associations. His business is struggling.

Let me first explain the value of a certification:

  • Learn systems and processes to work with clients.
  • Speak with other consultants just getting started.
  • Gain confidence in doing consulting work if you weren’t confident already.

Here’s the problem with certifications, they don’t help you GROW your business.

I’ve said before, as consultants, we’re not in the consulting business. We’re in the marketing business.

It doesn’t matter how many certifications or letters you have after your name. And it doesn’t matter how good you are at the work you do. If you don’t have enough clients, you don’t have a business.

The consultant that emailed me and the other one from Australia both had spent great time and money on getting certifications believing that would allow them to be successful.

In both cases it didn’t. Continue Reading

Marketing for Consultants Survey Results 2014

The results are in…

We asked over 15,000 consultants how they market their consulting services as we do each year.

We’ve compiled the results and created an infographic that shows you what type of marketing consultants are finding most effective and what is the most ineffective.

See the full infographic with survey results below: Continue Reading

4 Steps to Get More Consulting Clients

Steps-To-Get-More-Clients

Getting more clients doesn’t have to be hard.

It takes persistence and some work, but if you’re serious about growing your business that shouldn’t be a problem.

You must be able to get their attention and then get them interested and engaged so you can have a conversation with them.

Here’s what you need to do…

Identify who your ideal clients are – the ones that you’ll enjoy working with the most, the most profitable and the clients you can deliver maximum value for.

Find out where they are – do they attend specific events, seminars, read specific publications.

Get in front of them – once you know where they are, now it’s time for you to get in front of them. That might mean setting up a meeting, writing an article, giving a talk or something else. But you need to get in front of them.

Create attention and interest – your positioning, value proposition and messaging need to be on point and relevant to your ideal client. You must be able to get their attention and then get them interested and engaged so you can have a conversation with them.

Consultants that work through that process see significant results. The challenge many people face is that they don’t do this.

They often know they should, or have other ideas of what they should do, and they put it off, for one reason or another. Continue Reading

Do Consultants Really Need to Specialize?

Choosing-to-Specialize

This is a conversation I have with consultants I coach all the time.

It’s a topic I’ve written and talked about on several occasions.

Positioning yourself as a specialist doesn’t put you in a corner. That’s a concern I hear all the time and it’s off the mark.

And it’s one of the biggest areas of misunderstanding for consultants.

The question I get is “do I need to specialize?”

My answer is YES, however, there’s more to it than that…

The Goal of Specialization

If your goal is to land more clients and you’re getting started in the consulting business, than yes, specialization will help you.

Why? Because once you’ve decided who your ideal clients are, what industry they are in and in what way you will help them – your marketing becomes more focused.

If you’re new to this business, or simply want to get more clients you need to market your services.

That means you must be clear on who to target your message to.

Let’s look at two examples…

In the first, a consultant wants to get clients. They don’t know who their ideal clients are and they haven’t decided what service offerings to focus on. They go do some networking. They try to get some speaking opportunities or write some blog posts.

In the second example, a consultant decides they will use their experience in online marketing to position themselves as an online marketing consultant. They will help companies to increase their online sales. Their ideal clients are e-commerce businesses. They write articles for e-commerce publications and speak at their associations. They go to events related to that topic.

Now, which consultant do you believe will see greater success?

Which will spend less money trying to reach their ideal clients? Continue Reading

5 Ways to Get More Consulting Clients and Stay Top of Mind

Stay-on-top-of-mind

When you don’t turn that prospect into a client right away, what do you do?

One of the most common reasons consultants fail to land more clients is because they lack a clear follow up plan and strategy.

The incorrect assumption people have is that if you don’t win a client early in the relationship the chances of winning them decrease over time (as shown in the diagram below from a study by Marketo).

image-1

The truth however is the exact opposite (as seen below). The longer you nurture a relationship and stay top of mind with your ideal clients, the greater the chance you’ll have to win them as a client at some point. It might take, weeks, months or years. Continue Reading

Asking for Referrals: How It’s Really Done

Refferals

Most consultants misunderstand the referral process.

You see, there are two kinds of referrals:

a) The ones you initiate;

b) The ones that come to you.

The vast majority of people think about referrals as the ones that come to you.

That’s fine if you’re business is well-established, you have a pipeline full of business and a busy schedule. If a referral comes to you and it’s a good fit, you accept it and follow it through.

However, if you’re just getting started or don’t have enough clients it’s unlikely you’ll be getting referrals that simply come to you.

If you want more clients you can’t sit back and wait for referrals to come to you.

It’s up to you to initiate those referrals.

How can you do that?

Here’s the secret sauce…

Make a list of all your friends and colleagues. Your past employers, clients and contacts.

Now one-by-one call them up and ask them for a referral. Continue Reading

Get More Clients By Getting the Word Out

get-more-clients-photo

Would you like to get more consulting clients?

How about more people mentioning your name?

If you sit back and wait for the phone to ring you’ll be waiting a long time.

Would your business be better off if people were calling you and telling you that they heard about you from someone else or that they were referred to you?

If you said “yes” to anyone of these, you need to step up your game and start telling more people about what you do.

From a young age many of us are told not to ‘promote’ ourselves. In many cultures, this is frowned upon.

There’s a Japanese proverb Deru kugi wa utareru which is the English equivalent of “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.”

If you want to succeed in the consulting business you need to be “the nail that sticks out”. And I can assure you there’s no hammer coming.

Start promoting…

The best place to start promoting what you do is with all your family, friends and colleagues.

Most consultants don’t take the time to connect with all of their contacts and let them know what they are doing.

Friends and family often think you’re a ‘consultant’ or a ‘business owner’. That doesn’t help you attract clients.

You need to have a conversation with every contact you have to let them know what you do. Continue Reading

Become a Standout Consultant

I just finished watching Seth Godin walk off stage.

He gave a great presentation.

Parts of it I’d seen before yet it’s always great to see him speak in person.

One of the lessons he shared that stood out in my mind isn’t a new one. In fact, he wrote about it in his 2011 book “We Are All Weird.”

It’s an important concept and one that continues to become more and more relevant with each year.

I believe it’s especially important that consultants take notice of it.

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As the above chart shows (via 27gen.com), back in 1955 the vast majority of people would be considered ‘Normal’.

This includes your ideal clients and most buyers of consulting services. If you were marketing back then you would focus your efforts on this great ‘normal’ majority.

As time went on the bell curve start to flatten out and by 1975 the ‘normal’ majority was seeing a significant decrease. As Seth Godin put it, there were more “WEIRD” people.

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This increase of smaller market segments made marketing to each segment a lot more attractive. The market was growing…and still is.

By 2011, the original ‘normal’ group has gone from majority to minority or close to it. Marketing is no longer about muscle and forcing messages on people. Continue Reading

Why Some Consultants Struggle to Get Clients While Others Succeed

How-You-Market-Yourself

He got me thinking.

I was out for a morning walk. The sun warming the cold street and keeping the wind at bay.

It doesn’t matter what situation or country you’re in, or what industry you serve. Figure out what you need to do to reach the level of success you want and take action on it.

He was sitting on the ground about 10 meters in front of me.

His hat lay on the ground about a half meter in front of him. It contained a few coins. Just enough to look like someone had contributed them but I could tell he’d put them in himself to encourage others to give him money.

His position was relaxed. He didn’t try to get my attention. It seemed as though he’d already decided how successful his day would be.

A few blocks down the same street another man stood playing his harmonica.

He was about the same age as the first. He hadn’t shaved in a while and his clothes were stained with dirt – likely from calling the park bench or alleyway door his home.

At first glance both these men shared similarities.

But not everything was the same…

The second man played his music. He wasn’t good at it, but it looked like he was doing his best to enjoy it. He engaged eyes with everyone that passed and gave them a smile.

The other difference was that the second man’s hat had a lot more money in it. A few bills and at least $25 worth of coins.  Continue Reading

How to Use Twitter to Get More Consulting Clients

Finding-Consulting-Clients-Twitter

Social media can be a complete waste of your time.

Simple conversations can and do often lead to more serious discussions that turn into business.

It can also be a great way to build your business and land consulting clients.

Obviously if you spend your time on Twitter, or any other social network for that matter, engaged in meaningless time consuming banter the result will be meaningless.

On the other hand, if you take a strategic approach to your social media, it can directly lead to more clients.

Today I’m going to share with you a simple, yet powerful strategy on how to use Twitter to land more consulting clients.

Here’s how it works:

1. Make a list of your ideal clients and who your buyer will be. Aim to find out the name of the person at the company. The more detailed and specific you can be here the better.

2. Spend 20-30 minutes searching for each of these buyers on Twitter. You may be able to find them through Twitter’s search directly. Or you can hop onto Google and search for them there. For example, let’s say I wanted to connect with Maria Pergolino, the VP Marketing at Apttus (formerly Marketo). I would simply do a search for “Maria Pergolino Twitter” and this is the result: Continue Reading