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Consulting Sales: 10 Techniques To Get More Consulting Clients

By Michael Zipursky
3 Comments

Want to increase your consulting sales?

Sales is a BIG challenge for consultants.

We’ve been selling our own consulting services (and helping our clients sell theirs) for over 2 decades.

So we’ve put together a list of our top 10 consulting sales techniques.

By the end of this post, you’ll feel more comfortable selling your consulting services to clients — and win more consulting business.

Let’s dive in.

QUICK LINKS:

  1. Know Your Magic Number
  2. Choose The Right Prospects
  3. Instill The Consulting Sales Mindset
  4. Be “In The Flow”
  5. Leverage The “Pre-Sale”
  6. Ask Meaningful Questions
  7. Start With A Discovery Offer
  8. Offer 3 Engagements In Your Proposal
  9. Track Your Pipeline
  10. Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up!

1. Know Your “Magic Number”

Consultants who write down their goals are much more likely to achieve them.

This is especially true when it comes to consulting sales

If you know…

  • Your monthly revenue target
  • How much your average project is work
  • How many conversations with ideal clients it takes to win a project

…you can be very specific about the daily actions it takes to reach your monthly goals.

For example, let’s say you want to make $50K per month.

(Many of the consultants in our Clarity Coaching Program are making this amount or even much more using our LESSON ON SALES)

Your average project is worth $25K.

1 out of every 4 conversations with an ideal client turns into a paid project (25% closing rate).

Based on these numbers, we can conclude:

  • You need to win 2 projects per month to reach $50k.
  • You need to have 8 conversations with ideal clients per month — or 2 conversations per week.

What are you doing TODAY to have more conversations with your ideal clients?

We’ve created a simple spreadsheet for you to do this exercise and plug in your numbers:

Magic # Exercise Spreadsheet

Click File > Make a copy to save a copy of the spreadsheet for yourself.

Knowing your “Magic #” makes your sales targets crystal clear.

More conversations with your ideal clients = more consulting sales success.

consulting sales success story

(Learn how this exercise helped non-profit consultant Douglas Nelson grow his consulting business to over $2M in revenue)

We’ll talk more about ideal clients in the next step.

2. Choose The Right Prospects

If I told you to make a list of 100 ideal clients right now, how fast could you do it?

If it’s hard for you to create a list of 100 ideal clients right now, you’re likely a generalist.

You’re a “management consultant” or “marketing consultant” who serves all types of clients.

If you serve any type of client, then you don’t have clarity on your ideal client.

You need to get more specific.

There’s a reason why in the Consulting Success® Framework, one of the first lessons is on Ideal Client Clarity.

Everything in your consulting business starts with clarity on who your ideal client is.

Here are the characteristics you must know about your ideal client:

  • INDUSTRY. What industry is your ideal client in?
  • SIZE. How much revenue does your ideal client’s company make? Approximately how many employees work at their company?
  • LOCATION. Where is your ideal client located in the world?
  • SENIORITY. What level of seniority does your ideal client have?
  • JOB TITLE. What is your ideal client’s job title?

The more specific, the better.

13 May, 2021 10:10:40 am - Screenshot

With clarity on your ideal client, you’ll reach out to clients who value and need your expertise.

Nothing makes consulting sales easier than having absolute clarity on your ideal client.

Armed with the right mindset, you’ll have meaningful conversations instead of “pitching.”

We’ll talk about the consulting sales mindset next.

3. Instill The Consulting Sales Mindset

If you go into the conversation trying to make a sale, you’re doing it wrong.

Consultative selling is different than normal selling — and as a consultant, consultative selling is what you should be doing.

Consultative selling is about having a conversation without expectations.

Think of yourself as a doctor. When a patient comes to you, you’re not looking to funnel them towards a certain prescription.

Instead of pushing the client towards purchasing your services, you’re trying to accurately diagnose their problem.

Then, after learning deeply about their business and their problem, you can introduce your offer if you think it’s fit to solve their problem.

The consulting sales mindset is about delivering value first and having clients reach their own decision.

This is a much more enjoyable way to sell. And it will yield far greater results.

4. Be “In The Flow”

Consulting is a relationship business. The bigger your network, the more conversations you’ll generate with your ideal clients.

If you want to increase the number of conversations you’re having with ideal clients, be “in the flow.”

Being “in the flow” means to consistently…

  • Talk with prospective clients
  • Network with people in your market
  • Ask for referrals from previous clients
  • Reach out and connect with people on LinkedIn
  • Request introductions to key people from your connections

Conversations are vital to growing your consulting sales.

Show me a consultant who’s having many conversations, and you’ll likely find a successful consultant.

Make a habit of being in the flow. Carve 30-minutes to an hour every day dedicated to the activities listed above.

It will be one of the best things you do for your consulting sales.

Check out episode 132 of the Consulting Success® Podcast to learn more about mastering the art of consulting sales with Andrew Sobel, who coined the term “in the flow.”

13 May, 2021 10:11:12 am - Screenshot

5. Leverage The “Pre-Sale”

One of your prospective clients has booked a call with you.

What’s your process leading up to that point?

Here’s the key: prime your client for the call before it happens.

We call this the “pre-sales process.”

A prospect who understands what the call is for knows what you do, and has seen your results is MUCH more likely to invest in your consulting services.

Here’s a pre-sales checklist to help you optimize your process:

  • The prospect understands what the call is for
  • The prospect understands what I do (they’ve read through my website, explored services pages, etc)
  • The prospect has answered a short questionnaire before the call (they’ve given key details about their business to enable a productive discussion)
  • The prospect has seen my authority pages (case studies, testimonials, etc)
  • The prospect understands my story and knows why I’m different (example: Our Story)

If your pre-sales process checks off all these points, you’ll generate more consulting sales.

6. Ask Meaningful Questions

What type of questions are you asking your prospect on the consulting sales callt?

The quality of the questions you ask determines the outcome of the call.

Inexperienced consultants talk and offer ideas more than they ask questions

Elite consultants ask deep, meaningful questions more than they offer ideas.

consulting questions

(Source: Best Questions to Ask Consulting Clients: Updated Playbook)

Asking great questions…

  • Demonstrates your expertise and the value you can bring
  • Helps you and the client uncover the value of the engagement (and lead to higher-priced engagements)
  • Generates new ideas and insights in the mind of the buyer

Here are some examples of meaningful questions:

  • “What is your number one priority for this business unit during this fiscal year?”
  • “Is there anything that you or your employees are doing that may be getting in the way of achieving this result?”
  • “If you don’t fix it, how long can you manage and stay with things as they are?”
  • “Is there any reason you wouldn’t want to move forward implementing PROJECT to solve PROBLEM?”

You can see more in our post: Best Questions to Ask Consulting Clients: Updated Playbook.

Ask these types of questions and you’ll uncover the information you need to move the conversation forward.

7. Start With A Discovery Offer

Instead of offering your prospective client a high-price, highly-custom consulting project, start with a discovery offer.

A discovery offer is a smaller-scope, lower-price, introductory service.

Example: Mike Gammarino helps eCommerce companies build operations that scale. His discovery offer, Ops Performance Review, helps him and his clients understand the complexity of their operations and what it will take to improve it.

Instead of going straight into the operational improvements, almost all of Mike’s clients start with the Operations Performance Review.

ops performance review discovery session

Why are discovery offers easier to sell?

Because they require less trust.

Think about it: a new client hasn’t worked with you yet. As a result, they feel less trust and more risk.

A discovery offer drastically reduces the trust needed and mitigates risk because it is smaller in scope, price, and lays the path ahead towards the bigger project.

Here’s our Discovery Offer Checklist:

  • Align with what the buyer wants
  • Is a logical first step
  • Leads to the next steps
  • Ranges between $1.5K to $15K
  • Provides tangible benefits (growth, clarity, etc)

(Learn more about how to create your discovery offer on our post: The Discovery Session: How to Create & Sell Introductory Services)

By starting with a discovery offer, you can get your “foot in the door” with the client: and turn that into bigger consulting engagements.

8. Offer 3 Engagements In Your Consulting Proposal

If you only offer one option in your proposal, the client thinks whether or not they should use you.

But if you offer 3 options in your proposal, the client thinks HOW to use you.

So, in your consulting proposals, always offer 3 engagements to the client.

Break it down like this:

Option 1 – $$$

  • If money isn’t an issue
  • Best results
  • Shortest time to result
  • Most value
  • Highest investment

Option 2 – $$

  • Help them reach results quicker than option 1
  • Provides more value than option 1 (ideally, without having to spend more time)
  • More value
  • Higher investment

Option 3 – $

  • Basic offer
  • Minimum effort required
  • Provides value
  • Lowest investment

Notice how you lead with the highest price option?

This helps you leverage the anchoring bias.

Your prospective clients will see the price of Option 1 first. As a result, they’ll compare the price of Option 1 to 2 and 3.

By leading with the highest price, your 2nd and 3rd option will look much more affordable.

Like Jeffrey Gitomer says, clients don’t love to be sold — but they do love to buy.

Give your prospective clients the choice of how to buy your consulting services.

9. Track Your Pipeline

In the words of management guru Peter Drucker, “what get’s measured, gets managed.”

This principle applies to your consulting pipeline.

Your consulting pipeline is the flow of incoming business you have.

If you don’t track your pipeline, you’ll find it difficult to manage and organize your leads. It will waste your time and create unnecessary headaches.

Break your pipeline into 6 distinct stages:

  • LEAD. You’ve identified the prospective client and have begun reaching out to them to set up a conversation.
  • CONVERSATION. You’ve had a sales conversation with the prospective client.
  • PROPOSAL. You’ve sent a proposal to the prospective client.
  • WIN. The prospective client has accepted your proposal and you won the business.
  • LOSS. The prospective client has declined your proposal and you lost the business.
  • NURTURE. Most people you reach out to won’t be ready to buy or make a decision right away. Even people who say ‘No’ to a proposal now, may buy from you later as long as you stay top of mind through your nurture process.

13 May, 2021 10:12:46 am - Screenshot

How should you track your pipeline?

Many consultants in our community use CRM software like HubSpot and Zoho.

Other’s keep it simple and use Google Sheets or Excel.

Try a few of them out. See what works best for you.

Use your consulting pipeline to track your leads and to move them through each stage until they become paying clients.

10. Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up!

Did you know that 80% of sales are generated between the fifth and twelfth contact?

However, 92% of salespeople give up after no sales on the 4th call.

That means most of you are giving up before your prospective client is ready to buy.

If you want to make more consulting sales, the magic is in the follow-up.

Plan to follow up with each of your prospects at least five times. Shoot for 10-12 follow-up calls spaced out over 8-12 weeks.

If you feel like you’re being too “pushy” or “spammy,” then make sure that your follow-ups add value.

For example, you could…

  • Share a case study that shows how you’ve helped your prospect help a client in their same industry
  • Share an article that explains your prospects problem or issue in a new light, providing them with new insights
  • Show them that you’re genuinely interested and that you are open to a conversation all about them and their business

Elliot Begoun, Clarity Coaching graduate and client and Founder of TIG Brands, discovered a better way to follow up: using empathy-based emails.

elliot begoun

It’s been a gamechanger for his business.

Here’s an example of a super simple follow-up email he sends to clients who he believes would be a good fit for his consulting services

“Hey, I just thought about you.

What’s going on?

Would love to hear from you. Just letting you know we care.”

Learn more about Elliot’s follow-up strategy here: Use This Sales Follow-Up Email To Get More Clients

The key to succeeding in your follow-ups is consistency.

That doesn’t mean contacting your clients every single day.

But over a few weeks or months, reach out to your ideal clients through email, phone, or direct mail — and add value to their lives.

They’ll come to know you, like you, and trust you.

Then, when the time is right and the need arises for your help, you’ll be top of mind.

And chances are they’ll hire you instead of your competition.

Imperfect Action: Level Up Your Consulting Sales

Practice makes perfect with consulting sales.

If you want to get better at consulting sales, you need to talk with more prospective clients.

Here’s an imperfect action guide to help you level up your consulting sales game this week:

  1. Do the Magic # Exercise. Write down your magic # somewhere you can easily see it.
  2. Build a list of 100 ideal clients.
  3. Reach out to 5-10 prospects a day using an effective direct outreach sequence.
  4. Schedule conversation with the receptive prospective clients.
  5. Ask the client meaningful questions — and, if there is a fit, tell them about your offer that can help them solve their problems and reach their goals.
  6. Commit t to follow up with each of your prospects at least 5 times.

Do this, and your consulting sales AND revenue will grow.

What’s the biggest challenge YOU have with consulting sales?

Leave a comment and join the discussion below.

And if you have a particular consulting sales question, we’d love to help.

3 thoughts on “Consulting Sales: 10 Techniques To Get More Consulting Clients

  1. Aggy Nindi says:

    very helpful notes for consultants

  2. Lucy Higginbotham says:

    re: 9 – Use Technology
    Agreed… but so many CRMs are geared for the sale of products. Consulting is more about selling a service. Which CRMs are better suited for consultants or do we just customize as best we can?

    • Great question Lucy. There are SO many CRMs, you’re right. There is no ‘best’ one, but many of our clients use Hubspot, Zoho, and Pipedrive.

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