Let’s face it: truly successful consultants are visionaries who think big about their work and their businesses. Every beginning consultant starts out with dreams of skyrocketing to financial prosperity and reads success stories of consultants that are wealthy and prosperous.
But the most successful consultants have learned something that eludes those that expect to be able to just jump into success. They know that that a good growth strategy and long-term persistence are both foundational to building a strong business… and that everyone who succeeds in consulting builds their business in the same way — by consistently taking forward-thinking action.
What it means to be a successful consultant
Everyone’s version of success is different. For some freelancers, it means working with dream clients and making their own schedule to earn a full-time income. For other successful consultants, it means achieving financial independence and industry recognition.
Successful consultants generally demonstrate similar traits. They are shrewd, analytical thinkers that position themselves ahead of the pack. They are devoted to professional development and serving the needs of their clients. They have exceptional leadership skills and are positively regarded in their niche as well as their local community. And, of course, they make a comfortable living from their consulting income.
The biggest secrets of super successful consultants
In my many years in the industry, I have found that there are 5 secrets that are shared by all of the most prosperous consultants. Here they are, in no particular order:
#1: They build an e-mail list.
There are some people who say that e-mail marketing is dead. Successful consultants know that nothing could be further from the truth. E-mail marketing is still well and alive and plays an important role in building a business from the ground up.
What is on its way out is sending e-mails that do not provide value and which target the wrong audience. Hubspot reports that segmented e-mail campaigns create as much as 760% growth for companies. Not only that, 78% of poll participants saw an increase in e-mail marketing results in 2021.
#2: They get referrals
Running a business is a lot of work, and successful consultants know that it is beneficial to let happy customers do the heavy lifting when it comes to advertising. Word of mouth is exceedingly effective, and client acquisition by referrals is more likely to turn into a paid opportunity.
According to the Wharton School of Business, the lifetime value of a referred client is 16% higher than clients acquired by other methods. When you add in the fact that there is little or no cost to gaining referrals, it is easy to see why heavy-hitting successful consultants rely on them to help grow their businesses.
#3: They use project-based billing
Billing by the hour is waning in popularity for successful consultants, and for good reason. Hourly billing can cut earnings short, and the consultant often does not get paid what they’re worth. Project-based billing helps stabilize income, includes a fair rate, and does not put extra pressure on a consultant draw out projects to create additional billable hours.
Structure your fees to accommodate your skills, experience, and time into each project, and to meet your income goals. You may feel as if you need to low-ball your rates when you first start out but don’t be scared to charge what you’re worth. Not only does charging higher rates support your financial goals, but it can even be attractive to clients who often see low rates as a sign of an inexperienced or low-skilled consultant. (Note that using retainers can be another great way to bill clients and earn what you are worth).
#4: They create passive income streams
Webinars, e-books, and online courses are incredibly popular in the consulting world and are used by smart consultants to grow their income. Creating a product that showcases your expertise while allowing you to make money while you sleep is a huge milestone and a sign that you’re well on your way to being a prosperous consultant.
Consulting is very client-heavy work, and it can become quite time-consuming, but your business does not have to focus 100% on providing one-on-one services. Creating a passive income stream requires some work at the beginning, but once it is established, you can relax on the beach while your bank account grows.
#5: They use testimonials to market their business
Think about your own purchasing behavior for a moment. If you are searching for a new dentist, do you randomly find one online and hope for the best? More than likely, you check out testimonials to ensure that your experience is going to be everything you expect.
Testimonials are responsible for carrying and scaling the businesses of successful consultants. In fact, 72% of people will not make a purchase without first reading a testimonial. Word-of-mouth is powerful, and knowing that popular brands or people in your community have used your services and have found success in meeting their goals based on your work is important to prospective clients. There is a reason that successful consultants plaster their websites with testimonials — it works.
Think bigger about your consulting business
At the end of the day, the only person who can limit your chances of becoming a prosperous consultant is you. As an entrepreneur, the sky really is the limit, and you’re in control every step of the way. Combining a well-constructed strategy with tried-and-true marketing methods can help boost your business and set you on the path to building a business that meets your needs and allows you to achieve everything you have dreamed of.