Client Pipeline

4. How to Quickly Fill Your Pipeline and Confidently Sell Consulting Services

Consultants who don't use a proven system to fill their client pipeline have massive revenue problems.

Highly successful consultants know how to fill their pipeline. And they have a consistent, repeatable system to do it.

They build a list of qualified prospects, engage them by showing they are already familiar with their issues and problems, and then convert them into clients with a series of offers and Calls to Action that lead to a big “Yes!”

To be a successful consultant you must build a “Fill Your Pipeline System” so you will always have qualified prospects waiting to work with you. Filling your client pipeline is straightforward once you have built your core foundation by Finding Your Niche, Knowing Your Clients, and Building Your Brand. 

The Feast and Famine Cycle

New consultants often start with referrals from friends, business acquaintances, and their previous employer. These referrals often fade after the first year so new consultants find themselves facing months of no revenue.

Creating a smoothly running Client Pipeline is the foundation for building a million-dollar one-person business.

Most consultants, even experienced consultants, face the feast-or-famine cycle. The feast-or-famine cycle swings you back and forth between high income and no income. The cycle alternates between all work and no marketing and all marketing and no work. Of course, the income follows the same cycle leaving most consultants yearning for stability and willing to accept low quality clients.

You don’t have to face this feast-or-famine cycle. By spending 10% to 20% of your time each week using the Critical to Success Fill Your Pipeline System your prospect pipeline will be full of qualified clients just waiting for you to accept them.

Build Your LinkedIn Network Before You Start

Before you start your consulting business you want to build up your LinkedIn network with quality contacts. Contacts you connect with should be people you would want to work with or who work in the organizations you want to consultant to.

To build your LinkedIn network connect with,

  • Work colleagues
  • People at meetup groups in your field
  • People at association meetings
  • People in LinkedIn groups you join
  • Conference speakers and attendees

Begin with Referrals

For most consultants their first clients are referrals from personal connections, former clients, or former employers. Your consulting pipeline may be filled with potential when you start, but you can’t sit back and rest. Most often after the first year this referral work will dry up.

Even when you start with a full pipeline from referrals you need to take the time to build a system that fills your client pipeline for the future. 

Build Your Prospect List

Building your prospect list is significantly easier when you have a large number of quality LinkedIn 1st degree contacts. For example, at one point I had 1,000 1st degree connections. That created a network of almost 3,000,000 (three million) 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree connections that I could select from, message, and engage with.

Building a qualified prospect list is relatively easy if you have a large LinkedIn network. Even without a large network you can build a good prospect list using Google and LinkedIn searches.

As a Critical to Success member you have the advantage of searching for ideal prospects using the Client Profile worksheet from Stage 2. Using the Client Profile worksheet combined with the Critical to Success Google Search Cheat Sheet and the LinkedIn Search Cheat Sheet you can find exactly the people you want in your prospect list.

Qualify Prospects with Research

Leads are people who approach you or who you have in an unqualified list. Prospects are people who fit your Client Profile. But, the most valuable people in your list are qualified prospects.

Qualified prospects are prospects that have the need, the money, and the decision-making ability to hire you as a consultant. They are valuable.

Before you even talk to a prospect you can pre-qualify them by doing research using online databases,

  • Find prospects near you using Google maps
  • Learn prospect's problems and changes using automated news searches
  • Learn prospect's finances, partners, organization, and more with free access to expensive corporate databases
  • Learn the Offers and Calls to Actions that will entice your qualified prospects

Engage and Convert Prospects with Proven Scripts

You need a clear plan to engage prospects, nurture them to increase their trust, and convert them to clients. One proven way to do this is to create a sequence of emails and LinkedIn messages that give your prospects value. Two of the most common sequences are based on, building your personal relationship or on delivering “How To” performance knowledge. Either or both help reinforce your relationship.

At some point you need to make your prospects a low-risk two-way value exchange. For example, giving them an onsite briefing about industry status and trends from your research. You can follow this with a brainstorming session on how those trends affect their company. They learn from you and see your expertise while you learn in-depth knowledge about their company.

Consulting Business Checklist: 
Filling Your Client Pipeline and Selling Your Services

Use a proven process to identify and qualify prospects. Then engage them with proven scripts and turn them into clients using low-risk two-way value exchanges.

Create Your Core

  • Expand your LinkedIn network to more than 500 clients.
  • Build a leads list using your Client Profile and searching with the Critical to Success Google Search Secrets and LinkedIn Search Secrets cheat sheets.
  • Find the prospect's pains and gains using news feeds, forums, and online databases.
  • Prioritize leads by niche, accessibility, and the impact you can deliver.
  • Engage qualified leads using the Critical to Success Scripts Library.
  • Turn prospects into clients with a two-way value exchange. 

Quick Wins

  • Use the Critical to Success Newsletter Templates to nurture prospects and build a relationship.
  • Connect with highly-qualified prospects through LinkedIn groups.

Expand and Refine

  • Connect with high-value qualified prospects outside your network using LinkedIn Navigator.
  • Find "hidden" email addresses using free search programs.
  • Use our Done for You service to identify your prospect list, research prospect pains and gains, and develop customized scripts. 

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