If you’re looking for tips and strategies for building your consulting business, chances are you keep coming across the same advice: Seek referrals. Network. Under promise and over deliver. All of these tips are good, and you should be following them in your business.
But there’s a lot more to achieving success with your consulting practice than the basics you find on business tip websites. Those basics are important, but if you want to find more clients and build bigger revenues streams, you’re going to need to think outside the box and go beyond the basics.
Here are three tips I’ve learned from over twenty years in the consulting trenches… three strategies you need to know if you want to boost the bottom line at your consulting business:
#1: If you’re not worried that you’re e-mailing your list too much… then you’re not e-mailing them enough.
This tip is as simple as it is counterintuitive. If you’re not e-mailing your list so often that you’re worried about the frequency of your e-mails, then I can guarantee you’re not e-mailing your list often enough.
So many consultants and online businesspeople worry that they are e-mailing their lists too often, when the truth is that probably 75% of all online businesses are e-mailing their lists too infrequently. Your prospects and clients are busy. They don’t read every e-mail you send… they don’t even remember the last time you sent them an e-mail. The remedy is to send them e-mails more often.
Of course, you don’t want to bombard your list, and the right frequency will differ from list to list. But I’ve never seen a list that couldn’t be e-mailed at least weekly, if not twice weekly. E-mailing this often will require work on your part: you’ll need to write and content and have something interesting to say. But it will be well worth it in terms of relationships built and sales generated.
When in doubt, send that e-mail!
#2: You don’t work for your clients. You work with them.
This is another basic rule that most new consultants (and many seasoned consultants) violate regularly. You don’t work for your clients… you work with them.
Of course, on the one hand, you do work for your clients, in the sense that they pay you for your services. But you’re not an employee, and if you present yourself as an employee, you’ll never earn the respect of your customers – meaning they won’t follow your advice, they won’t get results, and they won’t continue to hire you for new and bigger projects.
So many consultants play the employee role… they are constantly jumping at the chance to do this or that for their clients… things that employees should be doing. Avoid this trap! You’re a strategic advisor for your clients, someone who has deep knowledge, proven programs, and a track record of success. Your job is to advise your clients, not to fall into an employee role.
When you present yourself as a peer-level colleague of your client’s executive team, they’ll be far more likely to follow your advice, to respect your expertise, and to hire you for future projects.
#3: Don’t discount your services. If companies can’t afford you, sell them your info products instead.
One of the hardest lessons to learn in the consulting business is: don’t discount your services. Discounting services seems so easy… maybe if you just knock 10% or 25% off of the price, you’ll be able to sell to more clients and make more money, right? Wrong! The truth is that if you start discounting your services, you’ll end up with cheap clients who constantly ask you to do more for less… and you’ll find yourself in a catch-22 where you have to constantly discount just to put food on the table.
Don’t get caught in this trap! Yes, when you’re just starting out, you can offer a discounted price for your first few clients (and by “first few” I mean your first 2-3 clients, maximum) to build your book of business and start to earn referrals. Make sure these clients know what your standard rates are and that you are offering them a special discount either because of a past connection you have with them or in return for referrals or testimonials for your business.
If you’re talking with a company that can’t afford your services, don’t give a discount. Instead, point them towards your info products… the e-books, webinars, and classes you offer that can help them get results, but which don’t involve direct consulting or coaching from you and your team.
I suggest always having a high-end class in your back pocket – one that you can sell to companies that aren’t ready to hire you directly. If someone can’t afford to hire you for a $25,000 project, sell them on a $1,000 online class that can help them get great results. You’ll make some money on the sale, and if the class is a good one, the person will often come to you later (whether it is in one month or three years) to hire you at your full consulting price.