“How do I sell myself as a consultant?”
Nobody wants to look like a rookie.
But if you’re…
- Don’t have a core message
- Are unfocused with your marketing
…then you risk looking like an amateur to your potential consulting clients.
How To Sell Yourself As A Consultant
I’ve seen many consultants waste money trying to advertise their business.
But if they tweaked a few simple things, they could effectively market their services — and start winning new business.
Remember this: your clients are looking to do business with people whom they know, like, and trust.
That’s where you come in…
There are a couple of things you need to know about promoting your consulting services. Do these, and you’ll look like a pro.
I’ve listed 37 tips to help you present your consulting business to clients below.
Each tip will directly or indirectly affect your marketing efforts and your overall business image.
1. Have A Magnetic Marketing Message
Prepare a short business pitch that answers the most popular question: “what do you do?”
You’ll stand out from all the generic answers by answering with your Magnetic Message:
I help (whom) to (do what) so that they (can have what)
Ex: “I help small businesses communicate the value of their products so that they have more time to develop their profits.”
More on this in the video below:
2. Don’t Go For The Big Sale Up Front
Start with something inexpensive or free. This will allow your client to experience your services first hand — without feeling like they are taking a big risk.
Successful real-estate professional Craig Proctor does this perfectly.
Before he sells clients his services, he offers clients a free report, home evaluation, and other training information.
If you smile then people smile back, if you tell someone to smile then they hesitate and become reluctant.
3. Don’t Dismiss Clients With Small Budgets
Early on in my consulting career, I was tempted to dismiss potential clients because I knew they didn’t have the budget for my services.
But many of these people turned out to be my #1 referrers of business.
You never know who will be your “volunteer sales agent” that brings you high-percentage referral business.
Avoid looking like you’re too good to do business with others who don’t have the biggest budgets.
4. Be Honest About Delivering Results
Many clients expect “the moon and stars” overnight. Don’t be afraid to be honest and tell them what’s unrealistic.
Clients don’t always understand the process behind delivering the result. And they don’t have to as — long as they are aware that there is a process.
Being upfront about the investment and time it takes to deliver will bring their expectations back down to earth — and give you the time and space to deliver as promised.
5. You’re A Business Owner, Not An Employee
Make your role crystal clear to your client. You’re a consultant, adviser, and independent business owner.
Doing this will avoid confusion: your client won’t think that you have to do what they say, go to events that are critical to their business, or be on conference calls that don’t require your presence.
These tasks are for their employees — not you.
If you promote yourself as more of a professional who is working together with them — and not for them — then part of the responsibilities lies on them. They shouldn’t dump responsibilities on you like they would with their employees.
6. Don’t Put Too Much Pressure On “The Plan”
Plans tend to be overrated. I have never seen a plan that works “exactly” as planned.
As a consultant, understand that your plan will require guidance, time, and unexpected changes.
When presenting your proposed offer, don’t focus much on the plan as much as the processes that will give your clients the results.
Don’t set yourself up to fail. Give yourself extra time to meet the target deadlines — and enough time to over-deliver.
7. Don’t Undersell Yourself In Desperation To Attract New Clients
Be like Apple.
If your products/services are expensive, then you will attract clients who can afford your services.
Start with introductory consulting rates — when you first start out — to attract your first few clients. But make sure they know what your standard rates are.
Presenting your services as “cheap” makes you look desperate. It devalues your service in the minds of your clients.
There are other ways to attract new clients without lowering your prices.
8. Do a Workshop That Targets Your Ideal Clients
Hosting a workshop is a powerful way to increase your perceived value as a consultant.
I have attended many workshops, and I have never walked away without seeing the instructor make at least a couple of sales during or immediately after the workshop.
Being an instructor within your target market improves your credibility, wins you more clients, and builds massive trust in your service.
9. Write And Publish An eBook For Kindle
Put together an eBook that targets your ideal clients. Then, sell it at a low cost for those who don’t have the budget for your higher-priced services.
The Kindle is growing in popularity. And it looks that much more professional to have an eBook on Kindle. You can offer it to your potential client as a trust-builder, helping generate more leads for your higher-priced offers.
10. Lead With Benefits
“Features tell, benefits sell.”
When presenting your services, your clients are thinking “what does this have to do with me?”
The better you are at communicating what your product/service will do for your client, the more deals you will land.
Communicate how your expertise will improve their lives or business. That will make you the type of consultant who they want to converse with.
11. Avoid The “Me Too” Marketing Angle — And Promote Your Specialty
The more you demonstrate that your services are meaningfully different than your competitors, the less you have to compete.
No business can be everything to everyone. Don’t try to compete by offering the same thing as someone else.
Instead, define your area of specialization. This makes it clear in your prospect’s mind why they should do business with you instead of your competitors.
12. Know Your Common Client Objections
Many years ago, I worked for Sears as a sales consultant. We had to study all the objections a customer would have about buying a product.
Doing this helped us increase our sales because we discovered a pattern: common objections — and the answers that worked consistently to overcome them.
It also helps to identify when to stop selling versus when to continue overcoming objections.
We learned that our time was better spent talking to the right people who were more likely to purchase.
The better you are at communicating what your product/service will do for your client, the more deals you will land.
13. Have Partners To Offer A More Total Solution While Making Money Referring Business
Fill in the gaps with key partners that pay you to refer business.
Ex: If you’re in the copywriting consulting business, then a lot of your clients may need design services for their websites.
If that client is in eCommerce, then you can partner with a website like Bigcommerce.com — and become their affiliate, which will offer you a $75-$300 commission. Some partners offer a monthly reoccurring commission as well.
If tell your clients that you have partners who can help offer a more complete solution, then it makes you look a well-connected industry expert.
14. Don’t Wear All The Hats In Your Business: Develop A Marketing Team
Every consultant should have a team of professionals whom you work with to do the tasks that are not in-line with your expertise.
If you’re strongest at admin, then outsource your other business operations
If you’re strong at marketing, then outsource your admin operations.
Wearing all the hats and attempting to do everything will hinder your consulting business.
If you are your own accountant, you know what I’m talking about.
15. Be Your Own Media — But First, Start Writing
Many small business owners have started blogs — and some are doing it just because it’s the thing to do.
If you don’t currently have a consulting website, then start one. Invest and have it professionally designed — and then start publishing articles.
“If you take nothing else from this event, know that you are your own media channel.”
16. Don’t Appear Anti-Social: Get Active In A Community
You want to be socially-active both online and offline.
In the past, these communities were forums and mixers that were centered on a topic. People exchange unbiased information. This would organically foster new business.
Now, this form of sharing information is done mostly online: through blogs and other social platforms.
If you want to be seen as an expert to among your target audience, be active as an expert in that community.
17. Don’t Be The “Used Car Salesman”
Most of us view selling as being pushy or aggressive.
But selling is about painting pictures in the minds of your prospect.
The more you can get someone to visualize themselves experiencing the end result of using your services, the more effective your sales pitch will be.
18. “No Shirt, No Consulting”
Have you seen those signs on the door that say “no shirt, no service”?
I’m not sure how that got started. It’s become the norm for many physical businesses. But it sets a certain standard that you should set as well.
Don’t do business with people who obviously don’t fit your ideal client description. Doing so avoids making you look desperate. Never be afraid to refuse service when the fit isn’t right.
19. Be More Organized
Simply being organized and consistent makes a big difference in how clients perceive you.
You may think that your clients don’t notice this. From email communications to updates on projects, marketing efforts, and partners you work with, organization plays an important role in all your business activities.
Imagine how unprofessional it would look to your client if you were flustered, shuffling papers, and trying to find testimonials for your service.
Wearing all the hats and attempting to do everything will hinder your consulting business. If you are your own accountant, you know what I’m talking about.
20. Just Listen: Your Client Has Unspoken Needs
If you’re offering a solution right from the start, you risk sounding like a know-it-all who doesn’t listen.
Can you claim to really help someone without hearing both their spoken and unspoken needs?
Your clients don’t always know what they need.
They are relying on you to be the expert that listens — and finds the real solution to their problem.
21. Be Well-Prepared For Meetings
If you’re going into a meeting with a client, make an outline for the discussion — and get to the point.
Naturally, you’ll engage in some small talk. Factor that time into your outline.
Always be up to date on the client’s plans and status.
You’ll come across as a trusted adviser when you…
- Give your clients updates on results achieved
- Show where you are in the process
- Demonstrate how close you are to achieving the goal
22. Track Your ROI (Return On Investment)
There are many tools that track where your clients are coming from. You want to pinpoint it so you can and focus on increasing your marketing efforts there.
If you’re a marketing consultant, you can do this for your clients as well.
Use online URL tracking, software, or service codes to pinpoint where your client’s customers are coming from.
This is valuable information for clients — and it makes you look even more like a pro worth investing in.
23. Have Systems And Procedures For Every Aspect Of Your Business
Clients will ask, “So how does this process work?”
They want to know what they’re supposed to do, what to expect, and when.
Not knowing your process makes you look like a rookie. Systematize your business operations ahead of time.
Start by outlining basic processes such as…
- Client reporting procedures
- How you plan on managing projects
- How you meet with clients that are not local
…and other standard tasks.
24. Make Your Clients Feel At Ease
Learn to read between the lines.
Working many customer service jobs, I learned to not only listen to customer’s words — but their tone of voice and body language.
They would love me for showing some thoughtfulness and reading between the lines — without them telling me what was really going on.
Later, customers would feel at ease and be more open to discussing sales solutions.
25. Ditch The Shotgun Marketing Approach
Each marketing channel has a specific way in which you have to market to do it right.
The way you market with Facebook PPC ads is not the same way you market using Google Adwords.
It takes time, money, and trial & error to understand how to effectively use each channel to get the results you’re looking for.
Choose a couple of channels that make sense for your business and your resources. Once you’ve found a formula that works then slowly branch out.
26. Bury Your Qualifications Until Necessary
I know you’re awesome and that you are qualified for the job. Unfortunately, no one cares.
Your communication must focus on the value you have to offer.
Your clients just want to know that they can trust you to bring results. Your education and qualifications don’t work nearly as well as client testimonials and hard data.
27. Don’t Over Exaggerate Your Services
Don’t overhype your marketing message. You risk sounding like an infomercial.
Instead, be genuine. Be specific about the value you bring, and your prospective clients will respond.
Studies show that 80% of your income will come from your existing clients.
Give your clients a lot of value — and aim to surprise them by over-delivering. They’ll come back for more.
Your clients don’t always know what they need. They are relying on you to be the expert that listens — and finds the real solution to their problem.
29. Make Your Message Relevant
Coca-Cola placed an advertisement in a window next to Starbucks when it was 3 feet of snow, which read “Who has time to wait in line for a latte?”
It was a smart move relevant to what was happening locally.
If you show relevance for what is happening locally for your target clients, they will respond to you positively. They’ll get the impression that you’re up to speed about what’s going on.
30. Show That You’re Passionate
Articulate the problems your clients face and how you solve those problems.
You want to connect with your clients. The best way to do that is to show them you know what they’re going through, and that you’re willing to help them.
31. Figure Out Your Pricing
If you’re new to consulting, then you are most likely going to start out with introductory prices.
But when you’ve gained some experience, you start showing — in “Dollar and Cents” — what you have done for other companies. Show your potential clients that you can do the same for them.
Creating a pricing structure allows you to categorize a potential client. You can offer them a service that is best for them and their current situation.
You can even be upfront with your pricing, and tell them what it will cost before sending a proposal. That will alleviate some of the pressure on them. They’ll know what they must invest instead of thinking you’re going to charge them an arm and a leg.
32. Know Your Stuff
Keep yourself informed and “in the know” about what’s going on in your industry.
Learn more about what works and what fails.
Giving free tips and specific advice makes you look like the go-to guy. It gives potential clients a reason to trust you with their project.
33. Be Optimistic
Show hope in what seems like a hopeless situation for your client. Give a face to the enemy by pinpointing the source of the problem. Use this to show them why they haven’t gotten their desired results.
The key is being sold on the solution yourself.
Once you see how you can help them turn things around, you appear optimistic to your clients. Optimism is always a good look.
34. Refrain From Using Weak Verbiage
Phrases like “I think, maybe, I’m hoping” don’t inspire confidence.
They make you sound unsure. It hurts your image and your client’s confidence in you.
If you can’t provide a good answer in the moment, say — with confidence — that you’ll find out.
35. Personalize Your Marketing Message
Imagine your clients are men in personal finance.
Whenever you use a visual aid to communicate, you can personalize your message with images of men who look like they’re in personal finance.
News channels do this when they are reporting breaking news about an issue in a different country. They will get a person who appears native to that country to report on it.
A personalized marketing message always resonates more.
36. Watch Your Physical Posture In Videos And In-Person
If you smile at someone, they tend to smile back.
But if you tell someone to smile, then they become reluctant.
We often do what other people do before we do what they say. This seems insignificant because it happens without us noticing.
Body language communicates as much — if not more — than your words. Use it carefully!
37. Be Patient Knowing That You’re Building A Business
Let’s say a client inquires about your services — but they aren’t ready to do business at the moment.
Yes, follow up…but don’t be too impatient. Never try and force something out of the inquiry. You’re not a used car salesman.
Think longer-term. You’re building a business, not just making a single sale.