Hello, and welcome back – we’re continuing our three-part mini-series on 6 steps to B2B sales, how to find, engage and get corporate clients consistently.PREFER TO LISTEN?

Why consultants, coaches, trainers and other expert service providers find it hard to win corporate clients, especially when starting out, is they don’t always understand the difference between B2B and B2C in terms of sales and marketing.

Many also underestimate the value they bring. It’s quite common that our limiting beliefs hold us back, and that even though we have a tonne of expertise to offer any company, big or small, we think we’re new and small and can’t play in that bigger playing field.

So in part 1, I talked a bit about that positioning and next we’ll dive into the middle of the six steps of the B2B sales process. But my advice here is not to start here, to really work on the positioning first and foremost, that framing of what you bring that’s unique and different to others in your space, in your field.

The six steps are – positioning, pipeline, prospecting, proposal, presentation/pitch and persistence. So in that previous episode, we dove deep into step number one: positioning, because I can’t emphasise enough how critical that is to your success. And we also looked at step 2, building your pipeline of organisations you want to work with.

So in this episode now, we’ll move onto step 3 prospecting and step 4 proposals. Again, I repeat, make sure you don’t start in the middle. Because a lot of people do just start with networking and getting into conversations before they really know their unique value proposition and what they actually deliver for a specific target market.

Until, you’re really ready to articulate this clearly, in terms that are important to the client, then keep working on the aligning, targeting and positioning to get your messaging to the point of clarity.

And then use those early conversations to really home in on the kind of language people in certain roles and certain organisations use to talk about the problems, the frustrations and the challenges you help them with.

Now, what happens if you skip that prep work to get clear is that you end up feeling like an icky sales agent rather than an expert consultant. If you haven’t listened to episode 73, and have come straight to part 2 or 3, best if you go through part 1 first. We looked at ways to firm up your positioning in the marketplace, where you can get that ideal client avatar dialled in and think particularly about the strategic business objectives you’re helping the organisation achieve.

And then we went through how to create and manage a pipeline of organisations and identify the key roles of people you need to reach and connect with. And then to prioritise the order in which you contact them in terms of how good a fit they are, how much of prior relationship you have, and how easy it is to access them.

And don’t forget there’s a checklist on all six steps you can download from my website at  jayallyson.com – just go to the Academy and it’s under Free Stuff.

Now we’ll move to the next two steps: prospecting and proposals, then in part 3, we’ll talk about the follow up and another two crucial steps that maximise your success to win corporate clients.

Ok so first off, I want to reiterate the importance here of …

Being the Hunted not the Hunter

Most consultants and coaches are experts in their subject matter or field of practice, but hate the whole promoting, prospecting and pitching part of running their own business.

And I say to you this. What if marketing and selling yourself isn’t what you think it is. What if you can use your consulting and coaching skills to attract your ideal client to you and provide enough value and insight that they automatically ask how they can work with you?

Being the hunted is always going to be nicer, better, easier than being the hunter.

On the B2B side of my business, the way I’ve always gone about selling into organisations – and it’s what I teach my ‘leveraged business accelerator’ clients – is that there are six steps to a successful process that leads you to get corporate clients. And most consultants, coaches and experts go about B2B sales all wrong or they miss vital steps. But this is the bridge to the holy grail, so it’s really worth building a strong one!

Most focus only on prospecting and/or proposal writing in isolation to three other steps, and they’re really poor on consistent follow up, so often that’s a big hole in what they’re doing that loses you opportunities.

You must start with step 1.

This is the most important step to take first, which is why I put it first 🙂

So if you haven’t listened to part 1 yet, or read the article version, please please hit stop and go play that one first.

If you’re just getting started getting your positioning right and clarifying your messaging makes perfect sense. But even if you’ve been in business a while already, if you are not getting clients in easily, working on improving your positioning can be the game changer and really help tighten up your play. It’s worth getting help with this from a business strategist or copy chief.

Once you have the positioning dialled in – to the extent you feel you’re clear on the type of corporate client you want to go after and know what you can help them with specifically…. you can embark on step 2 doing your research and due diligence about potential target organisations that fit your ideal client avatar.

Bear in mind, it’s an iterative process you’ll be strengthening your positioning and refining your messaging at every step. So don’t worry if you’re not 100% there, it can take a few rounds to really nail your messaging.

Next step is to plan out how to work your pipeline to get to that important first contact and start the prospecting process.

In this part 2, we’ll continue our journey through the steps, and look at how to work your pipeline to get to that important first contact and start prospecting process.


Step #3 Prospecting

Once you know your pipeline contact is a good fit, and there’s an opportunity to do business, the next step, step 3, is PROSPECTING. This is (1) how you go about getting in front of the key people you need to talk to – who may not be the first person you contacted or spoke with; and (2) what to ask and understand (not about what you want them to buy).

Prospecting builds on what you’re doing in your pipeline research – and how you then go about getting an introduction or forging a new relationship. Once you establish a connection, you can book a call where your primary goal is to find out more about their context, strategic need, budget and urgency. Of course, it’s also an opportunity to share how you came to do what you do and successes you’ve had for other companies.

When you’re prospecting or on a B2B sales call, what you principally want to be doing is in fact SCOPING the proposal – gathering the information you need, validating assumptions and getting the specific parameters clear that you’re going to be able to use later when you send them a proposal.

The easiest offer to start with is something you’ve already delivered and had great results for working with clients directly. It’s best to go with a small engagement and get your foot in the door, rather than coming right out of the gate with a big-ticket offer. It can be a training or service or program of work or collaboration of some kind, but it’s something that you know people in a specific role within a specific type of organisation are likely to want and need. And it gives them that first stepping stone to working with you and seeing results, a minimum viable outcome that you can deliver for them.

A client I was working with last year came to me because he wanted to get regular consulting contracts with IT companies but was not having any success getting hired. Partly this was because his offer wasn’t clear or tangible enough, it was too open-ended without clear deliverables or outcomes. And partly, it was because he was trying to sell them on a first date so to speak, not knowing if they were actually a fit or had a problem he could help with. So we worked on his positioning first of all to align his area of expertise in a way that gave his a competitive edge and then to package up a program that had a clear goal, outcome and timeframe.

Think strategically:

  1. Where are the pressure points for employers right now?
  2. What are the priority business objectives for companies?
  3. What are the urgent, pressing needs that managers are tasked to deliver?
  4. Where are their training gaps in terms of in-house capacity, time or skills?
  5. How is what you do better or faster than their existing approach?

In B2B, you don’t typically succeed getting someone on a call the first time you reach out. That’s what people do very wrong on LinkedIn – they ask for something or offer to ‘hop on a call’ before developing any kind of mutual connection.

You also probably won’t attract serious corporate clients by posting on social media. Even though some channels may be great for sharing insights with your tribe, undoubtedly, your average HR director or C-suite won’t be following you on Twitter or TikTok – consumers possibly but rarely your B2B decision makers.

For B2B, you have to influence from a much higher level of service. It’s not at all the same as B2C marketing – it’s much more about person-to-person relationship building than funnels and nurture sequences.

But there’s one common approach you can use, and that’s your LEAD MAGNET. While for B2C, a lead magnet or ‘freebie’ is all about getting someone to opt into your list so you can nurture the relationship long enough to market to them through emails. With B2B, your lead magnet needs to be much more of an authority piece – like a white paper or research report, a presentation recording or VIP mastermind or a free consultation can work. These are seen as high value pieces that help you attract, engage and win corporate clients.

A good thought leadership piece positions you as credible authority in your specialist area.

Because your B2B organisational contact doesn’t care how many followers you have on social media, or how big your list is, they care about whether or not you know what you are doing, and that they can trust you to deliver real results for them.

For B2B, if you want to win corporate clients, your #1 priority is to create a specific magnet that leads into the core program or service that you offer. Any content you publish or share should be showcasing your incredible work and track record with amazing client names and proven results!

Whether your B2B prospect magnet is a short ‘cutting edge’ research report or a book or a VIP event, they will work way better if you incorporate stories and case studies.

  • If you plan to write a book or create a signature talk – you’ll have a bigger success when you can share client stories and case studies of proven results.
  • If you’re building a webinar or online workshop course – you’ll have a bigger success when you can incorporate real-world experience from your initial client work.
  • When trying to secure speaking engagements – you’ll have a bigger success getting selected and see more engagement from your talks when you have impactful case studies to share.
  • Run a mastermind program – the more proven results you can bring to the table, the bigger your pool of prospects will be, and the bigger the likelihood of attracting bigger corporate clients.

Once you’re in a conversation or networking with a prospect, it’s a chance to ask those important questions about need, about budget cycles, about timeframes, and importantly to identify who’s the key person or role who would decide on contracting with you for the kind of service that you deliver.

Much of what you’ll need to ask about is what you’ll put in to the proposal, so let’s move into step 4 – the proposal.

Step #4 Proposal

Step 4 is the PROPOSAL stage, where you get to present your offer in the format the organization needs. Sometimes it’s a written proposal and sometimes it’s a verbal presentation – or both, you submit a proposal and if you’re invited, you go along and present your “pitch”.

Make sure you prepare and tailor your proposal to the specific organisation taking on all that you learned from the prospecting aka scoping conversation.

Proposals can take various forms. Sometimes it’s open format you get to present the case as you see fit, or sometimes the organisation/company want you to use a particular template, sometimes if it’s an Invitation to Tender you’re fitting your proposal into a format they give, sometimes it’s maybe just a presentation.

For this step, I’m not going to talk about how to write an effective proposal, I’ve gone through that in the article here along with a consulting proposal template. If you prefer to listen, it’s podcast episode 62.

And I also talked through pricing strategies in the previous blog and podcast episode 72.

For professional service providers, what to charge might just be the most stressful decision you ever have to make, especially if you’re new to business. There are a lot of moving parts to consider to create a really solid pricing structure, so if that’s what you need to figure, out go to episode 72 where I go through the key strategies you can use to get to that magic number – your quote!

What I’ll share relates to what you should be doing BEFORE & AFTER the proposal stage so you know what to put in the proposal and how to follow up.

Here I only want to emphasise that if you tend to jump to this step because a prospect said ‘hey put a proposal together’, it’s problematic and will keep you up at night worrying! Because firstly, it can just be a fob off, and secondly, because you cannot write an effective proposal if you haven’t really scoped it out and you won’t get the gig if you leave the ball completely in your prospects court.

Essentially, for the framework we use there are five sections:

    1. Business objectives – CHALLENGE & context
    2. Proposal / project overview – your SOLUTION
    3. Process or Framework – your unique METHODOLOGY
    4. Deliverables – outputs + outcomes / impact, TEAM & TIMELINE
    5. Investment & Payment terms  (costs, T&Cs, legals)

These are essentially your headings and sections for a proposal. But the content comes from the exploratory conversation or the brief they give you.

If you can summarise it in a couple of paragraphs then you’re clear 🙂

Often I’ll send out an outline before writing the full proposal just to make sure I’m on the right track. So I’ll email them something like:

Here’s what I heard from you, what’s plaguing you, the challenges you have, the outcomes you want to have, here’s what I think will happen for your organisation, why I think this is a good investment for you, here’s how we’re going to work together in this plan, here’s how long it’s going to take and what’s included in it, here’s your part and my part, here’ how much it’s going to be and how you’re going to pay that out, and then here’s a few other little things down here, and here’s how to accept this proposal/agreement, let’s get started.

I’ve sometimes just laid it out as headlines – I send my contact an outline first via email and say ‘get back to me if this sounds about right, and if you need a formal proposal at this stage, let me know if you have a template you’d like us to use. I may also reaffirm the timeline for a decision (and I’ll say …. “you mentioned getting underway by {date/month}, I’ll need a decision by X to ensure we can get into our schedule”.

This approach just saves countless hours and so much stress writing long complicated proposals that don’t go anywhere.

Scoping and having powerful exploratory conversations is one of the things we’ve got really good at in my consulting business – because writing effective proposals is as much about what you do before and after to get clear on the goals, the pain points, the budget etc.

And we bring in a lot of work and nowadays I don’t deliver much of it myself, we work on a model of building tams around a proposal and I have a network of associates and VAs I can pull together – so we’re scoping projects, writing proposals, building teams and evaluating a lot of projects. So I know what needs to go into a proposal to win the contract.

And then what to do AFTER you’ve written the proposal, is equally important, how to present it, how to follow up without being a pest … how to set up that follow up, where you’re willing to negotiate to get to an agreement.

That’s where we’ll go in part 3 coming soon, catch up with you then!

In my book, we dive in deeper into business design that enables the major leverage points in your brand, marketing, sales and delivery. Available via http://leveragedconsultingbook.com.