Whether you’re a consultant, planning to start a consulting business, or already have one, you might be asking the same question repeatedly: How to get consulting clients?
Sometimes this question is phrased like how to get consulting clients fast even if nobody’s ever heard of you? But it’s still the same question, with possibly the same answers. How can you acquire new customers, promote your consulting business, and sell consulting services effectively.
In this article I gathered the most important techniques you can use to get your first consulting clients. If you use these methods in the long term, you can build a strong marketing plan on them and always have plenty of clients.
CAUTION! This list of how to get consulting clients might not look as “sexy” or trendy as some internet marketers want you to believe this process is. And yes, you have to work in order to get clients – there are no magic website templates, sales pitches or anything else that will give you instant results. But what you find in this article is what actually works. Personally I don’t want to sell you anything here, so my intention is not to pitch you on the latest marketing craze, but to help you.
With all that said, let’s get into the nitty gritty of how to get consulting clients.
The very first thing you should do in order to get consulting clients, is to find out the main problems your potential customer might have. Fear is a great motivation force, and if you can solve someone’s problem, saving them from the potentially fearful consequences of the situation they are in right now, your consulting services will always be welcome.
These days everyone is talking about getting consulting clients online. Which sounds good and interesting, but let me tell you, it isn’t by far the best method to get your first clients when you’re just starting out with a new consulting business.
The trick in selling online lies in your credibility. And to build up credibility, you need to be seen by your future customers all the time. And this requires time and money.
The reason you follow people online and take their advice is because you’ve seen them like a hundred times already. And they’ve spent a lot of energy – time and money – to get before your eyes. So this is a viable method for anyone who has the resources. But if you’re reading this article, chances are you don’t want to spend a couple ten thousand dollars just to experiment what’s working and what’s not.
Find people in real life, go to networking events. Don’t underestimate the power of face to face meetings, especially at the beginning. This is the best way of building your credibility, and get your first clients as a consultant.
Business Network International can be a good starting point. You can also find (or even create) local networking events at meetup.com. Read this article on which networking groups to join to get more tips when in search of consulting clients.
You’ll be surprised how many of your friends and acquaintances do actually need your services, or at least they know someone who needs it.
My very first action, right after starting my consulting business, was to send a special letter to all of my friends and business contacts. In this letter I wrote them about my new business, and I also offered them a special 50% discount if they ordered my services. Of course the majority of them did not even reply, but did I have some great clients, even a big international company from just this one promotion!
Call your friends and acquaintances, email them or find any other tool for communication. Let them know your new area of expertise. Ask them about their problems, maybe you’ll find something where you can help. If not, ask them if they know someone who might need your help.
And here we are, recommendations. One of the strongest tools of a sales person (BTW don’t forget that you’re actually a sales person when you’re trying to find clients).
Ask for recommendations, and this will be the fastest route for new clients.
Let me explain this with my own example.
When I started out as an SEO Consultant, one of my best sources of getting new clients were my website developer contacts. Once I had a new client, I had to work together with their developer. And this developer soon realized that I could really help, so they (or at least some of them) would be please to introduce me to their other clients.
The actual next step you need to do depends on your niche, the type of services you provide. But those people who are your ideal clients are already spending their money with someone. Find those people, and partner up with them!
This is not that scary as it might seem at first. Of course if you want to get consulting clients by calling every number you find on the internet, you’ll get a lot of rejections, and you’ll eventually give up.
But think about cold calling as reaching out to new people. In fact advertising is some time of cold reach out. Even if it seems simpler, generally it requires more knowledge and experience than just regular cold calls or cold mails.
The best way to excel in cold calls or cold pitches as a consultant is to have a free service, or one that’s extremely cheap – like a free book where the customer only pays for the shipping (that’s called a tripwire by online marketers).
Back in the days I used to have a free SEO website analysis. It was completely free, and I did it manually. But I could sell to 1 of every 2-3 people asking for it, so it was really worth the time and effort. And it wasn’t hard to pitch people on asking for a 100% free study that could actually help them.
Then the only thing you have to do is pitch your cold contact to get something that is either completely free for them, or with a price way below it’s real value. You can do this on the phone, but you can send out emails or even regular mails.
Of course phone calls are the most effective, but you can also succeed with mails. Don’t forget about quantity though. You might need to send out 100 mails to get one response, and that’s totally normal in our communicationally oversaturated era. So don’t be afraid to send out 1000 or even more mails to see some real results.
You should start building your own email list right from day 1. Sometimes it’s hard, and when you only have a couple of subscribers you don’t really understand why you’re doing it. But just keep doing it.
Your email list will be your most precious asset when it comes to getting clients as a consultant. It is a direct communication channel to all those people who are interested in your services.
Just a few tips on how to get subscribers to your email list. Please note that regulations vary by country, and not all methods might be legal where you reside.
Let me know in the comments down below what is your favorite method for getting consulting clients. Or if you have any questions about this topic, I’ll be happy to help.