Insider Secrets to Consulting Success
In addition to the keys discussed in the previous section, you’ll need to understand some other techniques to be successful at generating consulting business from your seminars.
Follow Up on Leads
When someone expresses interest in your consulting services, follow up quickly. This is definitely a case of striking while the iron is hot. Send them whatever information they request right away. After sending them the information they asked for, call them and see what else you can do.
Ask them for a specific time frame for when they might be interested in using you as a consultant. Asking them a question like this will help you figure out whether or not they are serious. Follow up on these leads regularly, but don’t be too pushy.
Never Appear Too Hungry
Even though you need to follow up on everyone who contacts you, it’s not a great idea to appear to be tooeager. Whether you’re talking to them over the phone or writing to them (email included), you can never appear too hungry for the business. The more you look like you need the business, the less chance you’ll have of getting it.
You have to walk a fine line between being pleasantly persistent and appearing too hungry and needingthe work.
Have the Information Ready: Strike While the Iron is Hot!
You must have any and all promotional material to promote your consulting practice ready to go. When you make a contact that might have an interest in your services, the worst thing you can do is not have anything to send them.
What do you need? In addition to your products, you’ll need a complete set of materials that are specifically geared to promoting your consulting business. This would include a few key items: a onesheet summary of your services, references, perhaps a fee schedule if you have one. This information should be in your computer and ready to be delivered via email, fax and snail mail.
I do not suggest you have these items pre-printed. This will prevent you from customizing everything you send. I suggest you make minor changes to your one-sheet promotional to meet the needs of your prospective clients.
You’ll also want to have plenty of testimonials about your services ready as well. To get these you’ll need to ask for them. At the end of every consulting gig, ask your client if he or she will write a letter of recommendation describing what you did for them and what benefits they gained from your assistance.
Using Personal Contacts to Sell Consulting
I have used personal contacts to gain a lot of consulting clients. At the seminars, I try to befriend as many of the participants that I can. I’m lucky because I actually like people and this process comes easily to me. Those individuals who don’t become clients will often become friends.
You may have a difficult time using this method. If it doesn’t match your personality then don’t try to force it. It will only come off as disingenuous.
Never Go Out Looking for Consulting Work
I do not recommend that you go out actively looking for consulting. This an outdated model for building a consulting business. Not only is it difficult, it is time-consuming and demeaning. Unless you are a well-known author in your field, the chances for success are limited to say the least.
Instead, use my system to attract people to you. Get them to enter your funnel by purchasing one of your products at a price point where they feel comfortable. Then, trade them up the ladder. Eventually, a certain number will call you for high-end consulting services.
Maintain Price Integrity
Discounting will hurt you in the long run. If you are just starting out, or if money is particularly tight one month, it will be tough not to want to discount. Please avoid doing this.
The only pricing adjustments I make are for entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations. This way I can legitimately present a two-tiered price structure. Let’s say I charge standard corporate clients $4,500 a day. I would offer entrepreneurs and non-profits 50% off this rate.
In the event I have a corporate client who pleads poverty, I will sometimes give them the lower rate if they promise not tell anyone else and allow me to cut some of my basic services that I would usually provide. An example might be a final report that I would usually include. I would ask them if in exchange for the price reduction I could dispense with the final report. In most cases they will gladly agree.
Barring that, you might be able to get your client to let you reuse your consulting findings for him as a special report you can sell to others. Sometimes, they’ll want you to give them exclusive access for some period of time (3-6 months is normal) so their competitors don’t get their hands on the same information at a steep discount before they’ve had a chance to capitalize on it.
Be particularly wary of what my friend and colleague Dan Shafer calls the “soft-shoe two-step.” A prospective client will say something like, “We don’t have enough budget to pay your usual fee for this project, but if you’ll give us a break on the price on this one, we’ll show you that we’re interested in building a long-term relationship. We’ll give you lots of work later at your regular fee.” That future work somehow never materializes.
When you do cut prices you will probably discover what I have over the years. The biggest pains in the neck are those people who nickel and dime you. Your full-fare customers are usually the easiest to deal with.
As more work comes your way you can be more selective. At this point, whenever I perceive a customer will be difficult I will frequently increase my rate by 50% or more. I figure if they are still interested, they are paying for their degree of difficulty.