The Ultimate Guide to Starting and Building Your Consulting Business
Strategies, Tactics, and Tools to
Help You Build a Thriving Consulting Business
Finding Your Ideal Clients
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To build a thriving consulting business, you must know how to find your ideal prospect and how to talk with them about their goals and problems. To do that effectively, you need to know exactly how to identify perfect prospects and where to find them. As a solo-consultant, one of your biggest problems will be not wasting time on leads that will never become clients.
To Connect with Your Ideal Client You Must Know
How to Identify Them and Their
Most Important Pain Points
Some of the criteria we use to identify and find a perfect prospect are their industry, seniority, job title, years of experience, geographic area, and size of business. With key criteria like that and the right search techniques, it’s easy to build a list of prospects.
Knowing how to identify and find your prospects is only the first part. You must also know the goals and problems common to their industry. Knowing the goals and problems will give you a base for discussing how you can help the prospect reach their specific goals and solve their specific problems.
Before you begin looking for your ideal clients, you need an image of your “ideal client” and their goals and pain points. You also need a proven system that creates a list of leads and another proven system that engages prospects and converts them into happy clients.
To build a successful consulting business, you must
Identify your ideal clients, find their pain,
and engage them in their language.
There are many ways of finding prospects once you have a clear definition of who they are. The course, Starting and Building a Thriving Consulting Business, shows you how to find and connect with the people you want to meet using Google, LinkedIn, networking, speaking, and many other ways. But, to use those methods, you need to be able to identify them, know where to can find them, know their pain, and know how to talk with them.
Always enter the conversation already taking place in the prospect’s mind.
- Robert Collier
Knowing Your Client Profile
To find leads and fill your pipeline with prospects, you must know how to identify and find the exact people you want as clients.
Following the process in Stage 4, Getting Clients Quickly, can leave you with thousands of potential leads in your niche(s). You can’t go cold-calling and knocking on all their doors, nor would you want to. You need to know how to identify the most qualified prospects that fit the profile of your perfect client.
For consultants, it is a waste of money to advertise their services on television or in magazines. Those media target broad general audiences and cost more money than most independent consultants can afford. You need to be laser-focused on who needs you.
You need to create a Client Profile that answers questions such as the client’s industry, job title, job function, company size, industry associations or groups, etc. When you create a Client Profile with these exacting descriptions you can find your perfect prospects with Google, LinkedIn, and LinkedIn Navigator.
Start by building a Client Profile template similar to the one we use in the Starting and Building a Thriving Consulting Business course. The profile we use has segments specific to LinkedIn and Google searches. The course also teaches how to use advanced search techniques in LinkedIn Navigator and Google to narrow and focus your searches.
Testing Your Client Profile with Secret Search Techniques
Using your Client Profile, search on Google and LinkedIn to find companies and people that match your Client Profile.
Are the people you find the ones you expect will want your consulting services? If not, modify your Client Profile.
After you meet people at industry associations, dinners, and meetups connect with them on LinkedIn. Check their profiles. Who meets your criteria and looks like a good prospect? Fine-tune the Client Profile.
Google is excellent for finding companies that meet your profiles. You can use Boolean search criteria and Google’s method of categorizing businesses to find hundreds of potential businesses. We teach how to use Google's advanced search methods in the course.
If you have a large personal LinkedIn network, you may have enough connections to find and engage with prospects. If you have been developing your LinkedIn network before starting consulting, you may have millions in your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd connections. (The network effect is amazing. When I passed the 1,000 connections level, I had access to more than 3,000,000 business people.)
If you don’t have a large network yet, or you want to develop international connections, or you want to drill into a very deep niche, then I highly recommend subscribing to LinkedIn Navigator. In the course, we go into detail on using LinkedIn Navigator to connect and engage with people you would never find otherwise. LinkedIn Navigator is excellent for building a large, refined list of prospects.
Remember, the size of your list is not as important as the quality of your list. It’s far better to have 50 engaged prospects than 1,000 leads with a casual interest.
Knowing Your Client’s High-Value Pain and Goals
Once you identify your perfect prospect, you can learn the most frequent pains and goals for this type of client.
You need to talk to prospects about the pain or goals already on their minds. These are the problems that keep them awake at night – the problems they will pay to get rid of. You alsso need to be able to talk about their goals and aspirations so you can give them an image of what it will be like after working with you.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to get an overview of the pains and gains for a niche is to look through discussions in industry and association forums, look through tables of contents in Amazon’s lists of popular books for the niche, and search niche-specific blogs about high-value problems and trends in the niche.
As a consultant, you are like a doctor -
diagnosing, healing, and restoring vitality.
As a consultant, you are like a doctor. You diagnose and heal the pain. To do that, you must have a good idea of the symptoms, pains, and problems. You need to know how to talk to the patient and the problem’s impact.
You need a broad knowledge of problems in your niche before interviewing a prospect. Our course Starting and Building a Thriving Consulting Business teaches techniques that work well in interviews, such as PAES, Go Wide then Deep, and Consultative Selling.
Knowing Your Client’s Journey –
from Lead to Client
People who become clients have been on a journey. They go from being unaware of a problem to aware, from unaware of you and your solution to aware, and from initial contact to nurturing and converting to become a client. Understanding their Client Journey and how you can move prospects through that journey is critical to your success and critical to helping them solve their problem.
Helping clients move quickly through the Client Journey
helps solve their problems quicker and helps accelerate your revenue
As a consultant, it’s important for you to know that you aren’t “selling” a prospect and forcing them to buy your solution. Instead, you are guiding them on a journey to the solution that will help their business. To get to that solution, they go through multiple stages.
It is up to you to help a prospect move through the obstacles on their Client Journey. Prospects can be held back at each stage by lack of trust, lack of clarity, or confusion over alternatives. Understanding their journey, their hesitations, and the triggers that make them move helps you turn them into clients so you can heal their pain and help them reach their goals.
A great metaphor for the Client Journey is a bridge. They are first attracted by the idea that you can solve their pain, then you engage and nurture them, and finally you convert them into a client so you can heal their pain.
Clients want a bridge that goes from Pain to Solution. As a marketer you want to build that bridge. Building the bridge from Pain to Solution is described at the end of Stage 4, Getting Clients Quickly.
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