[Day 2/4] Answers to your toughest consulting questions on getting clients

get your consulting questions answered

I’m getting a lot of great consulting questions, and we’re going to dive into your toughest questions over the next few posts. And in one of today’s questions, you’ll see how an attempt to get clients backfired.

Your consulting questions answered

Since “how can I get clients?” is one of the most common consulting questions I get from you, I’m going to on that topic over the next few posts. After all, if you have no clients, you don’t really have a business.

First though, I want to reiterate how important it is to understand the mindset and psychology behind the answers I give. Mindset is hugely important, maybe more important than the actual tactics. Check out the first part of this post to see exactly how mindset can catapult you to a level of success that’s hard to imagine.

OK, now, let’s get to your consulting questions.

Our first question comes from Mike C., who said this in response to one of my recent surveys:

What specifically have you done to find prospects?

Join local chamber of commerce, secured reciprocal agreement with non competing HR consultancy.

What were the results of your actions?

Inundated by other prospectors materials from the chamber of commerce

What specifically do you want to know about finding prospects and getting clients?

What signals will I get when they are ‘hot’ prospects.

This is actually one of the funnier consulting questions I’ve gotten.

To get prospects, Mike joined his local chamber of commerce. And then got spammed from other people who were also trying to get prospects.

It’s like going to a restaurant where they don’t serve food, and everyone there is asking YOU to feed THEM.

And, by the way, the reason I’m sharing Mike’s experience is that his is the exact same experience I’ve heard from a bunch of you.

So what’s next? Is the chamber of commerce a good source for prospects? Well, it depends on your niche, but in general, I’d say it’s going to be a pretty dismal channel. Essentially, by joining the chamber of commerce, you’re just joining a group of other people who don’t know how to target their market, and are willing to spam others in a vain attempt to get business–ANY business.

So, no, this is NOT where you want to focus your energy.

Next, Mike asked how he’ll be able to tell when a prospect is a good one. The best signal, and the one you’re striving for, is when the prospect asks YOU how soon they can get what you have. If you’ve deeply understood their biggest problems, and made it clear to them that you understand, prospects will often ask you to help. You won’t even need to ask for the sale. Yes, this is ideal, but I’ve had it happen often enough to know that it’s not a fluke.

What does this boil down to?

  • Marketing channels: you identify your best marketing channels by understanding EXACTLY, in detail, who you’re targeting.
  • Your prospects’ biggest problems: by understanding your prospects’ biggest, most urgent problems, you won’t have to fight an uphill battle.

Yes, those are both big topics, beyond the scope of a blog post, but I cover them in detail in Client Pipeline Mastery, which I’ll be re-opening in a few short weeks. Stay tuned.

Next question

Today’s next question comes from Roger W.:

What specifically have you done to find prospects?

Sent out two letters with critique video. Afraid to do more since I REALLY don’t understand any markets.

What were the results of your actions?

Nothing. I tried to “follow up” a number of times until I convinced myself that no one responds to cold calling.

What specifically do you want to know about finding prospects and getting clients?

How do I find out about what business owners buy? What their decision making process is, what their buying process is?
Should I stay in my market and dominate before I set my sites on the “”big leagues””? I need an honest answer. I have already drunk the pink koolaid that told me otherwise.

Again, this is a good example of the consulting questions I’ve gotten recently, since it shares commonalities with consulting questions that lots of you have asked.

Here’s my take:

  • Is it really REALLY true that no one responds? Or do you need to send out more emails/letters/etc. to accurately assess the response rate for your market? What if you tweak your approach? Could you increase your response rate (hint: you don’t know unless you test it).
  • Roger indicated that he doesn’t understand his market. This is a really common issue I see, and sometimes people realize they need to learn more about their market, but other times, it’s easy to talk ourselves into thinking we already know enough about our market. I see A LOT of people making this mistake, and I made this mistake too when I started my consulting business (after all, I’d worked at the same company, with the same clients for 8 years; I figured I must know SOMETHING about my market). To deeply understand your niche though, you should be able to answer these questions, in detail:
    • Who EXACTLY is your market? 
    • What do they do? What are their primary activities and how do they make money?
    • What do they care about?
    • What results do they want?
    • How, specifically, can you help them? 
    • You need SPECIFIC, concrete answers for each question. Yes, this requires some thought and possibly some research. This isn’t necessarily easy. And, yes, these are all things covered in Client Pipeline Mastery, such as identifying a profitable niche, finding your prospects’ biggest problems, and talking with prospects.
  • Roger asks whether he should “stay & dominate before moving up-market.” Before changing strategy, you’ll need a foothold in your niche and some clients, or at least some more specific info before deciding whether it makes sense to continue vs. shift your strategy. Toward that end, you’ll also want to identify the next specific, concrete actions can you take that will move yourself forward. (And how do you define forward progress? Learning more about your market and what they care about? Getting your first 3 clients? Identifying common trends within your market that help you build repeatable solutions for your clients?)

Yep, there can be a lot to it.

Your next step

So I can keep helping you on specific things you’re struggling with, I need you to tell me: What’s the most frustrating thing you’ve experienced trying to get clients?

Take 30 seconds right now, and tell me.

I’ll share the best responses, along with my answers for getting unstuck in a future post.

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