When You Need to Get Consulting Clients...Fast
Updated: Dec 2, 2022
Oh, no! You’ve hit a dry spell with consulting work and see your income reducing to a trickle.
Or your pipeline of work is looking sparse 4 months from now.
Or you just lost an engagement, but you were counting on that income.
Better start marketing, stat!
Before you do anything. Pause the panic.
Then ask yourself, “What is the best thing to do now?
Marketing is important for building a sustainable consulting business, but...
The time between creating awareness of who you are and what you can do for potential clients...
All the way through clients actually hiring you can be a long time. Often many, many months.
It helps create leads to cultivate so some of them will fill your pipeline in the future. But as a short-term strategy, it often doesn’t work.
You Need Income Sooner
Prioritize direct outreach. That means reaching out to people to get a meeting and then, at that meeting, seeing if they want you to help them achieve something important to them.
Before you start reaching out to everyone you know or are connected with on social media.
Pause again. And come up with a plan, so the time, energy, and effort you put into this process yields the outcome you want.
Planning for Direct Outreach
You first have to answer the who questions. Hopefully, you have already identified your ideal client, considered what they care about, and identified your value to them.
If you haven’t, stop and do that now.
It doesn’t have to take a long time or be perfect, but doing it well enough will make your efforts more focused.
And more focused efforts tend to yield better results.
Once you have those building blocks in place, it’s time to look at your network and make decisions.
Making initial decisions before you do anything will make the process more manageable and focus your efforts on where you will most likely get yeses first.
Look at everyone:
In your contacts
On your email list, if you have one
Who was a past happy client
Who you used to work with
You are connected with on social media
Then segment them for outreach by:
Who may need what you offer, and you could get meetings with if you asked. These are your “hot prospects” to reach out to first.
Who may need what you offer, and you think you may be able to get meetings with.These are your “medium-hot prospects,” the next group to reach out to.
Who you hope to work with and that someone you know could connect you with. This is where you ask people in your network for introductions.
Folks in your network who you don't know if they have helpful connections. Prioritize them last but don’t ignore them. They could still yield clients.
What to Expect and Do
Don’t expect everyone to reply after one email or one call. Folks are busy. They likely are juggling many personal and professional things right now.
So, don’t take a non-reply personally. And don’t panic. This is all very normal!
That’s why it help (them and you) to reach out to them more than once.
You might be thinking, “Ugh! You mean SPAM THEM?!”
No, I definitely don’t mean that. Do not send icky salesy emails. Don’t lie and say there’s some urgent reason they have to get back to you right now.
All you’re doing is connecting with them in a way that would feel good to you if you were on the other side.
Also, remember, they aren’t seeing ally our emails and aren’t reading them all. They aren’t listening to all your voicemail messages.
Again, don’t take it personally. They may have a nice, warm feelings when they see your email or voicemail but tell themselves they read or listen to it later. And then forget because, ya know, life happens.
You should expect to send your first email and then follow up at least 4-5 times (including by phone if they are extroverted phone people). Yes, 4-5 times.
This is why I suggest drafting templates before you send a single one. It’s easier to feel comfortable writing multiple emails when you don’t have names attached to them yet.
Then you’ll use those templates to reach out by email or social media messages.
Even though you create a template, you still want to make your email personal to the person receiving it. You want them to feel like you are reaching out to them and not just including them in an email blast. (Those aren’t always bad, but that’s a different strategy.)
Know Thy Goal and Make It Easy
As you are draft the templates, be clear that your goal of the emails is to get meetings, not close deals. So, don’t include everything wonderful about you or a list of things you could do for them. For those you hope to work with, keep the outreach short and sweet and directly say you want a meeting. For those you are asking for introductions, still keep it short, simple, and clear.
Plus, you want it to be extremely easy for them to do what you want them to do.
If you want a meeting with them, include a link for them to schedule immediately.I usually add, “If you are willing to meet, you can use this link to schedule a time that works best for you.”
If you want introductions, draft the introduction emails for them. Don’t include any attachments or do anything else that would make them have to spend extra brainpower and time introducing you.
The easier you make it for everyone, the more likely you’ll get them to do what you want them to do.
Emails aren’t the only way to reach out! Again, if they are phone people (I am not!), you can call them.
You can also send audio and video messages. Greet them by their name, so they know it’s a message just for them!
Then include a link to schedule or say you sent them an email in hopes they would be willing to introduce you.
Once you get meetings set up, now prepare like you want business. Prepare to make it the best, clearest meeting they’ve had in a while.
You may also still have some lingering fears or doubts about reaching out to folks. You may be struggling with an aversion to selling. If so, give your mindset some attention.
Don’t wait until you feel 100% ready, though. An imperfect step is better than no step at all!
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