Consulting Q&A: Filling Your Pipeline With Clients

We received some great questions from readers after the Q&A email we sent out last week. While we won’t be able to respond to every one right away (that’s what our Coaching program is for) we will do our best to answer as many of the questions as we can right here on the blog.

Here’s a  question from Al from North Carolina:

“My main challenge is filling my pipeline so I’m been putting a lot of energy into marketing.

This fall I changed the focus of my non-profit consulting practice.  By far, most of my work had been with a local university.  That ended and I decided that I wanted to focus on offering performance management services to local nonprofits.

Basically I have good credentials and experience but it feels like I’m starting from scratch. I don’t have much of a marketing budget. I’m already involved in lots of local networking events.  Last year I did around 8 presentations and that yielded one client.  There is significant competition which is one reason why I’m focusing on a specific issue.

Any advice?

Al H.”

Al’s situation is not unique. He’s got the skills to get the job done, but first his marketing has to land him some new clients.

First I’d congratulate Al on realizing that he can’t depend on a single client to bring home the bacon. That’s a dangerous situation to be in, one that superstar consultant and sales expert Jill Konrath shared with us in her Buzz Session.

It’s not the marketing budget that Al should be concerned about however. What’s critical is how can he stand out from the crowd? If others are offering the same services as he is, what can he do to make himself the authority and number one choice of clients?

Al needs to think about that. Can he introduce a new service that non-profits will find useful? Can he structure the project so that his clients don’t pay him unless he generates results for them?

Answering these questions will help Al develop his Unique Selling Proposition. Once he’s got that ready it’s time to imprint his name on the foreheads of every potential client he wants to work with.

He should create a list of the people he wants to work with and then focus his efforts on offering them presentations, sending them direct mail, delivering white papers and setting up meetings with them. Because if he’s offering a service that they will benefit from, and is perceived as having the best product – maybe not right away – but when they need what Al delivers he’ll be the first one they call.

If Al’s not making any headway after focusing his efforts on this type of strategy, I’d recommend Al look at other markets where he can provide value to…ones that are less crowded but are still hungry.

If you have consulting related questions, drop us a line on our contact page and we’ll answer them on the blog as soon as we have a chance.

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  • Hey guys,

    Thanks for addressing my question! Basically what I'm hearing is that I'm on the right track. I do have a unique selling proposition that differentiates me from the competition – that's the focus on performance measurement and management and its connection to effectiveness and increased public confidence and support. I also have begun using direct marketing and just last week sent out a letter to prospects that linked my service to a recent local news story and included a free presentation offer. This was followed up with emails and phone calls. I do have a couple of white papers and have plans to produce a couple of others soon. It's good to know that I'm doing what I need to do, I guess I just need to be patient.

    • Al – great work! Yes, you're doing the right things. Be sure to continue doing them – continued follow up is key.

  • Hi Al – not sure this will be of any help but thought I'd pass along. I am in a similar situation as you since I just completed a re-branding process that totally changed my approach and the services I offer. Most of my past business has been through word of mouth. The whole marketing concept for the most part is new to me.

    In order to be sure I started out on the right path, I engaged a firm that charges a monthly fee to manage and execute a complete marketing campaign. This included the initial setup of the email campaign, call scripting, contact list, presentations…etc.. They use salesforce.com for the CRM solution. For me, this was the quickest way to market and also ensured I was presenting my company in the best light possible. Even if I only use them for a few months I have the collateral to continue the process on my own if I choose to. As of now, outsourcing his function is a viable option for me since I don't have a sales person to depend on and it's not my strong suit.

    I compared several companies and finally went with Professional Prospecting Systems – http://www.professionalprospecting.com. Let them know I referred you. My company is http://www.fokalfusion.com. You can find my contact info if interested in discussing further.

  • Andrew Pochatko

    Good to see everyone is working on a brand. We have to remember that we need to demonstrate value to our clients. Keep focused on that and we should do well. Know the business you are selling to and demonstrate value they can use.

    • Andrew – thanks for your comment. Delivering value is mucho critical 🙂