2. Knowing and Finding Your Ideal Consulting Clients
To build a successful consulting business, you must
Identify your ideal clients, find their pain,
and engage them in their language.
Before you begin looking for your ideal clients, you need an image of your “ideal client” and how you will help them. You also need a proven system that creates a list of leads and another proven system that engages prospects and turns them into happy clients.
In this stage, you will learn how to identify and find your “ideal clients.” You will also learn a valuable method for talking with prospects about their pain.
Always enter the conversation already taking place in the prospect’s mind.
- Robert Collier
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.
Knowing Your Client Profile
To find leads and fill your pipeline with prospects, you must know how to identify and find exactly the people you need.
Following the process in Stage 4, Fill Your Pipeline System, 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 advertise to broad general markets. You need to be laser-focused on who needs you.
For one thing, as an independent professional, you probably don’t have the massive funds necessary to appeal to a mass market. A far better approach is to find and talk to the exact people matching your Client Profile.
The Client Profile you create needs to answer 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 pull perfect prospects from Google, LinkedIn, and LinkedIn Navigator.
The Critical to Success Client Profile prompts you for the client criteria that help you search Google, LinkedIn, and LinkedIn Navigator for your perfect prospect and their company.
Start by building a Client Profile template that is 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.
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.
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
Once you identify your perfect prospect, you can learn their pains and gains –the problems they face and what they want to achieve. Finding the pain takes research and human “empathy”.
You need to talk to prospects about the problems already on their minds. These are the problems that keep them awake at night – the problems that are already on their minds and that they would pay to get rid of.
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 being discussed.
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 go on a journey; from being unaware to aware, lead to interested prospect, to engaged prospect, and finally to client. Understanding their Client Journey and how you can move prospects on 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 you accelerate 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 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.
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, Filling Your Pipeline and Selling Consulting Services.