There are undoubtedly 1001 ways to get consulting clients online and offline. But you can’t just grab a “tactic” off the shelf and run with it if the rest of your business isn’t aligned to the ideal clients you’re looking to attract. Looking at the goal strategically helps you choose 2-3 tactical things that actually work.
How to get consulting clients is a question I get probably at least once a day. And it’s the same with coaching clients, therapy clients, any kind of client-based service business.
For many consultants, finding clients is a constant uphill struggle. And finding great clients willing to pay what you’re worth is an even bigger challenge. But it doesn’t have to be.
(I’m good at what I do and my offer isn’t that unique, but I have learned a lot about marketing and sales in my time. I’ve been supporting myself as a full-time consultant/mentor for 13 years, and I’ve seen what works and what creates frustration and stress from working hard with no gain.)
Good news! There’s no magic trick or clever ad that you need to run to get consulting clients, even high-end clients. The secret to success is actually absurdly simple, but it’s a distinct shift from what you’ve probably been doing and what 90% of struggling consultants and coaches are doing.
And just to say upfront, I’m not going to tell you it’s running Facebook groups, webinars, livestreaming videos, podcasting or some new mystical method. Any or all of those are tactics you might choose to do only work if you focus your offer on the most powerful thing.
Successful consultants are not selling services, they are selling a desired outcome – a result.
Here’s three key “rules” you need to follow to get consulting clients by being result-focused rather than service-focused.
#1 Successful consultants don’t sell consulting services
I realise you probably won’t believe that, because you know or see plenty of consultants and coaches who have plenty of clients, right? Well, stay with me …
You see, I hear plenty of you say you can’t get consulting clients. A few years ago, I was at a marketing event and round the lunch buffet some of us were talking about our business and how we get clients – traditional way or online, not much was working for these consultants and coaches.
- One consultant was saying he spent a fortune on breakfast meeting memberships and newspaper ads and nothing worked.
- A wellness coach lady kept saying how she couldn’t get people to hire her even though she knew they needed her help.
- More recently, an amazingly enthusiastic online marketing strategy consultant was bemoaning how much facebook ads were costing.
- And remarkably, a social media consultant admitted she was wasting so much time putting out great content and none of it was helping her get high-end coaching clients.
Most blamed the fact there were so many independent consultants / coaches out there nowadays, it was hard to get noticed (and that’s a story for another article). Or that times were hard and no-one was buying consulting or coaching these days.
Anyway, I’m sure you can relate. But I was shocked and upset for them all, especially the social media consultant because I’d just signed up a £10k client who came from Facebook! And I mostly get clients through LinkedIn. So I knew people were definitely buying consulting.
The reason successful consultants manage to get consulting clients is not because their services are better or they’re more established or they have some secret tactic. It’s because their offer is better.
Even with poor copywriting and a small network or following, those consultants will get consulting clients because their brand and messaging is totally aligned to what their audience cares about most and their offer matches the specific problem that is ‘top of mind’ for their ideal clients right now. They are tuned into what’s “topical” in the marketplace that they can help with.
The sooner you get one core concept dialled in, the sooner you can get to work on creating content and offers that target a specific type of client you’re looking to attract. And once that magnetism goes to work for you, you’ll see a change in your call to action, i.e. more people taking you up on your offer.
With a strong and specific focus, things get very straightforward. Your whole marketing funnel, your sales pages and/or presentations is geared to that one thing. It’s clear, it’s targeted and it’s positioned for success in getting consulting clients.
#2 Consulting services are the means to the end
Just take a look at a few consulting websites and you’ll notice that 95% firms are all about themselves, their areas of expertise and their services. In the coaching space, you’ll see people listing all the things the client gets – weekly calls, bonus recordings, private FB group blah blah.
Yet the only thing people are interested in is getting from A to B (and eventually from B to Z). They are looking for you to give them the roadmap, if you will, that shows them how “what you do and how you do it” will work to get them a specific result and progress them forward to their goal.
So instead of saying: “I help professional service providers get consulting clients so that they can X, Y, Z, and I do that by giving you 10 webinars, 20 templates and meeting with you weekly.”
You might say: “I help professional service providers get consulting clients so that they can X, Y, Z, and I do that by taking you through a proven step-by-step system.
Yes, of course you’re still offering people your consulting services, in one form or another. But successful consultants focus their marketing and sales on the potential client and what they need rather than on themselves and what they do or deliver.
If you set your mindset is on how you help, what’s in it for them not what’s in it for you, you’ll already be way ahead of the game compared to most other consultants.
When your offer aligns with something your ideal client cares about or that helps them with a problem they need solving, you’re going to attract way more interest than when you’re trying to sell people on you, your services or your expertise. As the old saying goes, put that in your pipe and smoke it … because that smoke signal (see what I did there?!!) is like a magnet to the right client.
Let’s go back for a minute to my example of the £10k client above…
Admittedly, this was someone I’d worked with in the past and we had remained “friends” via facebook, so there was a bit of know, like, trust in there for good measure. But what was great is they were asking me to help them with strategic marketing for business growth, which was nothing to do with what I did for them back when they were first a client (e-learning programme evaluation).
She’d seen my website and a few posts about marketing and process improvement and “wondered” (aha) if I could help with their enrolment process to get more sign ups into two new support services.
The point here is to illustrate that she approached me, I didn’t sell her my consulting services, she had a problem that I could solve. My messaging was clear enough that they saw what I offered was a good fit for what they needed. We had an exploratory call on Zoom and within the month (wheels turn slowing in the public sector!) I had a new £10k client contract. I hadn’t spend a penny on advertising or going to meetings – it was pure attraction marketing.
People need to see your offer and immediately know it’s what they need and want, they often tell other people about you before they even start working with you! Finding a solution when you need it most is a powerful experience you want to share it with others.
#3 People don’t buy the vehicle, they buy the destination
“Competition in most every industry has never been fiercer. In the digital age, tech-savvy businesses are increasingly using direct marketing and sales approaches to enjoy extraordinary ease of entry in the marketplace. They’re lacing their websites and social media compelling, customer-focused and socially-conscious brand stories.” Leveraged Consulting in the Digital Age, Jay Allyson
Many are now leading with low-end offers to pull in high-end clients. Consulting is no longer just for the big companies. So why doesn’t this work for many consultants and coaches. If you’ve been around the internet a bit, you will have seen that’s it’s all about attraction marketing and building relationships. But what if those tactics weren’t the actual thing that enables you to get consulting clients?
You can’t simple say to someone “I’m a business consultant, I use X method to help improve your business”. Because if that worked to get you paying clients month in month out, we’d all be 6 and 7 figure earners with thriving businesses, right?
So what’s the missing element? What are all those struggling consultants and coaches doing wrong?
Well, it starts when you stop doing what everyone else is doing – selling services not solutions.
Get good at matching a realistic solution to the problem that’s holding people back from what they most desire, and you become the hunted not the hunter.
See chapter 5, section 2 in Leveraged Consulting in the Digital Age, Jay Allyson
The key thing with any offer is what’s called “message-market-match”. What your target market most desire becomes your “niche”.
Your niche idea can start from broad notions such as success, growth, friendship, relationship and drill down into very specific benefits and outcomes such as clear skin, healthy body, organised inbox, leads from Linkedin … you get the idea.
The vehicle to get someone to that destination is how I deliver it. Clients want to know this of course but you first have to ‘sell’ them on the trip.
THE GOLDEN RULE
In the world of marketing offers in an increasingly competitive marketplace, SPECIFICITY is the golden rule. The more specific you are about the end destination you deliver for your client, the more clients you will get – oddly counterintuitive, but it’s so important I’m repeating it:
Specificity is the absolute number one rule in marketing.
As I started to apply the niche-down rule in my own business, over the last few years, my client work has become more streamlined and so easier to delivery, my income has become more consistent and so easier to rely on, and my sense of purpose has become more profound and easier to talk about.
Finding my groove and being able to get consulting clients, I reached a plateau – only so many projects I could take on in any given week or month. So I began repurposing my expertise into a book, an online group programme, a FB group, and a podcast (planned) – all leading into a membership giving my clients continuous support and myself a recurring revenue.
Here’s an example of shifting from broad to specific.
For this article, the broad focus is how to get consulting clients but my offer would work best when I niche down to something like Get 10 Clients in 30 Days by Nailing Your Niche. It speaks to the specific result my ideal client would want.
I think that title would work great as a lead magnet – that is, a free guide you give away in exchange for someone’s email list – and help you build a list of targeted prospects. If it were a more in-depth guide or training and included planners, templates and checklists, it would make a valuable low-end product you could offer (perhaps as an upsell) for $27, $47 or $97 even $297. If it really helped someone get 10 clients, it would be worth ten times that, right?
Personally, I’d rather offer it as a mini-course because delivering implementation-focused e-courses is my genius and because a low-end offer like that it would seamlessly and elegantly funnel the right people into my high-end signature programme and/or consulting services. (See earlier article How to Win High End Clients with Low End Offers – a 5-Step Strategy.)
(That’s pretty close to what I do, in fact – the Brand Clarity Project is one of the modules you get free in the iSuccess Business Academy membership – it’s main selling point is the Crystal Clear Message Creator but the OUTCOME is that you get consulting clients when you align).
But your delivery vehicle doesn’t have to be an online course (if you’re not ok creating one but want to, we can create one for you so contact me if that’s what you need). Otherwise, keep it simple: the vehicle for delivering the material and support could be a keynote talk, a webinar, an email series, a FB group or a membership site.
Do you think if I can help you get 10 clients in a month, or even if you only got three, that you’d want to work with me and tell others how you get consulting clients using my strategies?
Heck, yeh! And there’s the thing. It works 😀
The good news is that I’m looking to run a 5-day challenge based on five key steps to creating a powerful offer, which I teach in more depth inside the iSuccess Business Academy membership. Want in?
If that’s a big YES!!! then here’s what to do:
1. Click here and opt into the iSuccess wait list so you get all my updates.
2. Come join me in the Leveraged Living Club facebook group.