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9 Ways to Get More Consulting Clients: How to Sell Consulting Services

So you want to get more consulting clients?

9 ways to get more consulting clients

Okay, let’s explore that together. Before we do, it’s important that we get clear on WHO your ideal consulting clients are.

Because if you don’t know WHO they are, how can you market effectively to them? In just a moment I’m going to show you how to get more consulting clients.

Here’s what you’re going to learn in this article:

Who Is Your Ideal Consulting Client?

Who is your ideal client?

What type of client do you want to attract?

You want to figure out the criteria to identify your ideal client. Once you’ve done this properly, you’ll be able to move the marketing process forward.

If you rush this part and don’t go through the steps the right way, you’ll lack clarity on who your ideal client is. Or, you’ll target the wrong ideal client. This is so important it’s the first step I take consultants through in my coaching program.

I call this process “Ideal Client Discovery.”

All of your marketing – your value proposition and marketing messaging – will be based on this. So it’s critical that you have your REAL ideal client in sight if you want to get more consulting clients.

Get More Consulting Clients Through Focus

You want to be focused if you want to get more clients.

In fact, the more focused you are on who your ideal client is, the better.

You should be able to identify exactly…

  • who your ideal client is
  • what their title is
  • their industry
  • their location
  • the frustrations, desires, and barriers they are facing in their business

Knowing this allows you to target your messaging and marketing specifically to them.

This process is difficult for many consultants.

They feel that narrowing on a specific ideal client and area of specialization is restrictive — that they’ll lose opportunities because their focus is on a specific ideal client type.

I get it. Yes, going through this process requires a challenging shift in your mindset. But it’s an important one.

Without ideal client clarity, you cannot identify your target clients. If everyone is a potential client, then nobody is.

Try these exercises:

  1. Imagine you’re a management consultant and you serve any type of client. You work with all types of businesses on all types of problems. Now go and build a list of 100 ideal clients.
  2. Imagine you’re a marketing consultant and you serve VPs of marketing at U.S based fintech startups who are looking to generate more leads for their sales team. Now go and build a list of 100 ideal clients.

In the first exercise, there is no direction. How do you build a list of clients when anybody could be your client? Who should you be looking for? What should you be writing? How can you market yourself to everyone at the same time?

You can’t. And that’s why focus is critical for your marketing.

You’ll find the second exercise is much, much easier.

Why?

Because in the second example, you know who you’re aiming for. You have direction. Because you know you’re going after fintech startups in the United States, it’s easy for you to look for fintech companies — and then, find their VPs of marketing.

get more consulting clients working with ideal clients

The most successful consultants and companies have a very clear focus early on. It’s how they make a name for themselves. It’s how they establish their brand and became known as authorities.

They do this by getting clear on who their ideal client is. They even build a “target client profile” to ensure all of their marketing collateral will resonate with their ideal client. It’s the foundation of all the marketing tactics you’ll find below.

Finding Ideal Consulting Clients

Once you’re clear on WHO your ideal client is and you’ve FOCUSED down to ensure you’re going after the right ideal client, it’s time to find them.

Marketing isn’t about choosing a popular tactic. Just because one type of marketing is working for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you.

You might have come across people who have built 7-figure businesses by marketing themselves on Instagram.

But as a consultant who sells to sophisticated buyers at organizations, your clients probably don’t use Instagram. If they do, they aren’t using it to look for solutions to their business problems.

Use the marketing approach that will get you directly in front of your ideal clients as quickly and effectively as possible. Don’t bother marketing on social media or other platforms unless you know your ideal clients are there.

Start With Questions to Get More Consulting Clients

Before you dive into deciding what marketing tactic you’re going to use, ask yourself, “where are my ideal clients?”

Where can you get in front of them?

To get more clients you want to get your message in front of them:

  • What events do they attend?
  • What blogs and websites do they visit?
  • What publications do they read?
  • What associations or groups are they part of?

These are just a few of the many questions that guide you to getting in front of more consulting clients.

If you take the time to do research on your ideal clients and answer the above questions, you’ll know where to find your ideal clients. Not just in an abstract sense, but in a practical, meaningful way.

If you want Indian food, you find (and go to) an Indian restaurant which has Indian cooks.

If you’re a marketing consultant and you want to work with VPs of marketing at fintech companies, you find (and go) to the places, blogs, and websites that fintech executives congregate.

Without knowing where they are, you’re directionless. You’re too far from your ideal clients to attract them with your messaging.

Magnetic Messaging to Get More Consulting Clients

Now that you know who your ideal client is and where they hang out, what do you do next?

Do you mass-message all of them with your pitch?

No. That’s not what you do.

Instead, you’re going to provide value while developing what we call “magnetic messaging.”

Again, imagine that you’re a marketing consultant who helps VPs of fintech startups boost their lead generation (your ideal client).

You’ve found your way into an active LinkedIn group of 200 or so marketing leaders in fintech (where your ideal clients are).

There’s an ongoing thread where the VPs are explaining how they’re having difficulty generating leads even with all of the content they are publishing.

You contribute to the thread with a thoughtful comment that asks the marketing leaders if they’re struggling to communicate the value of their product without going into the technical details.

You have a related article on your website about this very topic — which you share in your comment as it’s relevant to what these VPs of marketing wish to learn about.

When these VPs of marketing hover over your name, they see this:

“I help fintech startups generate more inbound leads — so they can sell to warm prospects instead of ice-cold leads.”

If you’re a VP of marketing at a fintech startup whose struggling with lead generation, you’re interested.

It’s magnetic. It gets your attention and interest because it speaks to who you are, where you work, and the problem you want to solve.

Now do this for your consulting business. You know who your ideal client is, and where they are.

  • What kind of messaging can you create that would attract your ideal clients to you?
  • What are they struggling with right now?
  • What is their desired future state?
  • What’s that itch that they wish someone would scratch?

Before you can craft irresistible messaging, you must learn what it is your ideal clients truly want.

You want to echo their language back at them so your marketing resonates with them.

Don’t make assumptions about what your market wants.

Do your research and speak with them. Find out the words they use to describe their situation. Use the most powerful words in your magnetic messaging.

9 Tactics to Get More Consulting Clients

There are many ways to promote your consulting services. The tactic you choose will depend on who your ideal client is and where you can most effectively and efficiently reach them.

Here are 9 (of many) tactics consultants can use:

1. Webinars
Webinars are a great way to educate and provide valuable information to buyers and get more consulting clients. Done effectively, not only can you demonstrate your authority live on the webinar — you can do it in front of many people at one time. Most webinars are a series of presentation slides (think PowerPoint or Keynote) that you take attendees through. It’s a great way to identify the problems prospective clients are having, offer possible solutions, and ultimately make a clear offer. The offer is where you’ll provide an opportunity for the attendee to work with you. Too many people use webinars strictly as a way to present information. The most effective webinars are the ones that engage the attendees in making them part of the conversation.

2. Small Events
A great way to get more consulting clients is with small events. You can invite a small number of prospective buyers to an event you’re hosting. You’ll make a short presentation and then shift to facilitating a discussion. Attendees get a lot out of these events and you have a great opportunity to demonstrate and communicate the value you can deliver live. As opposed to webinars you can see buyers face to face, shake their hands, and work side by side. Of course, this does require you to physically organize and put on the event. They aren’t hard to do and the ROI can be massive.

3. Offer a Valuable Resource
Another strategy and tactic is to use a valuable resource to leverage your marketing which will help you to get more consulting clients. Here you’ll get in touch with your ideal client and offer them a free resource. It can be a PDF, video, audio, whitepaper, report – almost anything as long as your ideal client will find it valuable. You can offer it by calling your ideal client on the phone, by email, or even using advertising. The buyer is most often thrilled to receive a free resource of such value is now feeling gratitude and more connected to you. This approach leads to greater contact with your ideal client and is a mainstay for many successful marketers.

When I say profitable I mean investing $800 in ad spend and making $5000 back as an example. We’ve had other campaigns where $600 was invested and it landed $23,000 in revenue.

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4. Newsletters & Emails
If you have a list of subscribers sending out a newsletter is a great tactic. If you don’t already have a database of people that have opted-in to be on your list use a different tactic listed here. If you do have a list this is one of the most effective tactics available. You can send a regular newsletter to your list with everything from case studies, news, stories, tips, and resources. The idea is to provide valuable and educational information to your list on a regular basis. They see you as the authority and will wait in anticipation to receive your next newsletter.

You can send out your newsletter, which can actually look just like an email as often as you feel. We send out our newsletter email twice a week. Some of my friends send theirs out once a month and others every weekday. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in terms of how often to send. As long as you have value to offer and something worthwhile to share you can send newsletter emails as often as you’d like.

I’ve had several clients who had newsletter but were getting almost no leads from them. We made some changes and now they get anywhere from 3-7 qualified leads responding to their newsletter every time they send it out – and this is with a small 600 person list. If you have a newsletter and want some help turning it into a marketing asset let’s, chat.

5. Social Media
I love talking about social media in terms of marketing. Most consultants and a lot of coaches have absolutely no clue about how to use social media. Some people will tell you that social media sucks. That it’s not professional. That it won’t generate revenue. Others will say the exact opposite. About how great it’s been for their business. And then there are those in the middle. Who want to ‘get in’ the social media game. Typically their attempt is half-ass and lacks guidance and direction. Ultimately they waste time ‘trying’ to make it work.

So here’s the real deal my friend… Social media CAN work exceptionally well to win new consulting business. BUT and I’ll say this again…BUT! it depends on who your ideal clients are. For some Facebook is great, others find their ideal clients on Pinterest. And still others use LinkedIn or Twitter to get more consulting clients. And here’s the thing, for some people their ideal clients are NOT on social media. Which means they shouldn’t be either. Go where your clients are!

6. Paid Advertising
The vast majority of the consultants I coach spend little to no money on advertising. Why? Because they don’t need to. The marketing strategies and the approach that I teach works without having to spend extra dollars on paid ads. That being said, if you know how to use paid advertising the right way it can be VERY effective in generating leads and getting clients.

Facebook Ads is a great platform to generate leads for certain markets. LinkedIn Ads is very powerful for other markets. And Google Adwords is still the ad platform of choice for many marketers around the world. Ultimately you want to find out which platform is best to reach your ideal clients. We’ve used all three of these platforms and have made all three profitable.

When I say profitable I mean investing $800 in ad spend and making $5000 back as an example. We’ve had other campaigns where $600 was invested and it landed $23,000 in revenue. But be careful. If you don’t know what you’re doing you can spend a lot of money quickly on ads without really making any impact. It’s important that you setup your campaign the right way from the start so you can quickly turn a profit and then scale your business up from there. If you’re interested in learning how to generate leads to get more consulting clients using advertising get in touch.

7. Speaking
Getting in front of your ideal clients and giving a speech or presentation is one of the most powerful marketing tactics available. You have an opportunity to demonstrate to the buyer live, right then and there, that you’re an expert. They can see it with their own eyes. The fact that you’re on stage and being promoted as a speaker for an event is great positioning to build your brand. The problem that many consultants face however when it comes to speaking is that they aren’t sure how to get speaking gigs, how to make money from them, and even when they get a gig – they leave the event with no leads for new business and clients.

When you’re speaking it’s critically important that you take the right action to get your ideal clients to contact you. When you do this right, and it’s all in how you frame it and the wording you use, ideal clients will come up to you right after your talk and tell you they want to hire you. I’ve had this happen so many times after each talk I give that I know how powerful this tactic is and how much revenue it’s added for my company. In fact, after a recent talk I gave I landed a $9500 coaching client – PLUS I was paid over $5000 to give the presentation.

8. Calling
I know what you’re thinking…”Michael, calling…as in cold calling? Are you serious?” Yes, my friend, I am. The phone has been knocked down so hard by so many people that most believe it isn’t a ‘good’ marketing tactic. The people that tell you that however are also the people that have never been successful with it. The phone, in fact is one of, if not the #1 most powerful marketing tactics you can use.

consulting winning new consulting business via cold calling

It’s the most direct in allowing you to get in front of your ideal client consistently. When you add your value proposition and the right approach of using the phone you can quickly create opportunities to have conversations with ideal clients that lead to more business. The problem with calling isn’t that it isn’t effective, it certainly CAN be, the problem is 1) the mindset people have around it and 2) the strategy and approach they use.

If you have the right mindset around calling it can work great. Rather than thinking about cold-calling as bothering people and low-class, realize that it’s a great way for you to connect with an ideal client and start building a relationship. Banish the expectations you’ve had around making a sale quickly from calling and instead realize that it’s part of the process and that the only way you can really fail at this is by not doing anything about it.

Your strategy is equally important. A sales conversation shouldn’t be about hype and pressure. Rather, the most effective sales conversations are meaningful conversations where you ask the right questions and are well positioned to communicate your value to the buyer. Where you diagnose the person on the other end of the phone and then, if it’s a good fit, prescribe the right solution/offer to them. In the Consulting Success Coaching Program I teach consultants 15 questions to ask buyers. You can follow those questions step by step to become more confident right away and start landing more projects at much higher fee levels.

9. Emailing/LinkedIn
There is another approach that is just as direct and powerful as calling your ideal clients. And yet it doesn’t require you to pick up the phone – not right away at least. One of my clients, once I helped them re-define their value proposition and clear around their targeting of ideal clients saw a 400% increase in revenues and income using this tactic. You can send emails to your ideal clients to engage them in a conversation that leads to you having a sales conversation with them. There is a specific approach to this and you’ll want to carefully craft the right wording for each interaction.

I’ve taught many high-level consultants how to do this effectively in my coaching for consultants program. I have a specific 4-step process that I’ve used successfully for a while and have been teaching my clients for LinkedIn specifically. If your clients are on LinkedIn this process will allow you to find your ideal clients, engage them, and ultimately meet or speak with them and enter a sales conversation. And we both know that the more meetings and calls you have the more sales conversations you can enter. And that leads to more business, right?

These 9 tactics are a few of the most powerful ones to get more consulting clients. They may or may not be the right ones for you. And this is just a part of the marketing process I teach that allows you to consistently attract your ideal clients. It’s important that you don’t jump on a certain marketing tactic just because it’s popular or you’ve ‘heard’ it’s great.

Instead, take the time to figure out which marketing tactic is the right fit for your market and your specific situation. Once you go through the whole process your marketing will be much more focused and effective.

Selling Consulting Services Effectively to Get More Consulting Clients: The Sales Conversation

If you’re like many consultants, the thought of “sales” and “selling” your consulting services is even MORE uncomfortable than marketing.

That’s OK. In this section, you’ll learn a new approach to selling your consulting services.

I want to suggest that you adopt the following mindset that will change the way you view your sales conversations:

“My expertise is valuable, and by offering clients my expertise (and being compensated fairly for it), I’m adding value to my client, the marketplace, and myself.”

When you adopt the mindset that your expertise is valuable, and your clients are better off from engaging with you, then “sales” becomes a mere conversation to explore what your client is struggling with, and how you might be able to help. That’s all.

It’s not about being pushy. It’s not about being aggressive.

Sales, for the consultant, is all about having conversations with people you know (your ideal client) about the problems they are having, the value of solving those problems, and then offering them next steps for a consulting engagement to solve said problems.

get more consulting clients through sales conversations

Doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

Here’s how to approach your consulting sales conversations:

First, you want to focus on learning about what their problems are. Unless your prospect has the problems that your consulting services can solve, you shouldn’t try and sell them anything. Ask them questions as to what they are doing right now in their business, and what they are struggling with.

Don’t forget to go deep when you’re asking questions. Good salesman and saleswoman go deep. They ask “why?” over and over until the answer stops changing. That’s when you know you’re at the root of the problem — or what the client truly cares about.

Once you’ve discovered the client’s problem areas, you want to learn about their desires. How would it make them feel to knock this project out of the park? How would make them look to their peers? What types of headaches or stress would it take away from their day to day lives?

Within the most rational executive is another human being. Your sales ability is all about being able to speak to that person — in addition to showing them the numbers.

You want to have a value conversation where you discuss the financial upside of the project. How much additional revenue can your expertise add to their bottom line? How much can you save them every year? 5X? 10X? 50X?

And just as importantly — what is it costing them to stand still? Inaction is a course of action. When you know your client will be better off after working with you, then you owe it to them to help them take action.

That’s an important mindset to adopt when you’re selling your services. Your clients risk being surpassed by competitors when they opt to stay put. A good salesperson truly cares about someone they can help. They won’t let this happen without making their value as clear as they can.

Probe, don’t push. Sales is not so much persuasion as it is being curious about your client, their desired future state — and then showing them how your expertise can help them get there.

Get More Consulting Clients With A Discovery Offer

You’ve gone through all the steps — now comes your big moment to enroll the client and make your offer.

Think about how your client is feeling right now.

Sure, they have talked to you and understand the value you can create for them…

…but how do they feel about investing tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars on this project?

Unless you have a previous relationship with them, they’ll feel a certain level of risk. Even with prominent thought leadership, a flowing sales conversation, and rock-solid proposal, the buyer is going to feel at risk working with someone they don’t know.

Instead of offering them one big option, you can get more consulting clients by packaging your expertise into a discovery offer.

A discovery offer allows your client to discover your expertise through a lower investment, lower-risk consulting project.

Discovery offers are very clear. You’re going to help the client achieve a tangible benefit. You’re going to take them through a process that doesn’t allow for scope creep. There is no overly complicated proposal needed to move forward. That’s what makes it such an attractive way for your client to take on that first project with you.

Discovery offers are smaller and more tightly-defined in scope. This makes it easier for the client to say yes. Lower price, less risk, shorter timespan — and if everything goes well, they can always hire you for more. And they will.

This doesn’t mean that discovery offers aren’t profitable. They should be profitable for you. But they are more of a long-term play. You’re winning the client’s trust with this initial project so that they are open to doing more business with you — at a higher level of engagement — based on what you helped them achieve with your discovery offer.

By the time your discovery offer is complete, you’ve helped them improve their business, gain greater clarity on their situation, developed a stronger relationship with the client, and have paved the way for more opportunities.

Creating new business with existing clients is one of the best ways to win new business — so you don’t have to rely on getting new consulting clients as much.

Try using a discovery offer when trying to win new business. You’ll increase your rate of success, lower the risk, and get to pick and choose the clients you take on for full consulting engagements.

Get Consulting Clients With a Step-By-Step Marketing System

If you’d like to get help to improve your marketing so you can land more clients, I welcome you to get in touch here.

Hundreds of consultants from around the world have fixed their lead flow in 8 weeks. We have tested and developed a series of simple steps that support rapid learning and implementation to help you create real momentum in your business.

When your marketing is effective, sales is easy. Clients come to you. And our coaching program is specifically for consultants like you who struggle with their marketing and want a consistent, steady stream of profitable consulting business.

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6 thoughts on “9 Ways to Get More Consulting Clients: How to Sell Consulting Services

  1. Fantastic article as usual, Michael!

    One question about the WHO: as a marketing consultant transitioning out of a particular niche, how do you best identify great vertical markets (or should you at first) when you’re essentially starting from scratch? I definitely find it a bit scary, but I realize the value of nailing down a vertical to become the go-to person in.

    Thanks as always!

    Tom

    • Hi Tom – you’ve hit on one of the areas consultants have the greatest challenge in. I’m going to be doing a training on this in more detail soon and happy to keep you posted on that if you’re interested. Give thought to what type of client you can provide the greatest value to, where do you have the most experience, where is the need to solve a problem the strongest…this will get you going in the right direction to find that segment of the market that you can serve best and become an expert and authority in.

  2. Jaswanth Reddy says:

    Hi Michael Zipursky, It was a really useful trick that you have shared. Yes, one can find an email of the concerned person by getting email patterns through Google, LinkedIn, Twitter but there are some useful tools like LinkedHub, AeroLeads, Salesloft etc. through which you can effectively find the emails that you want.

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