This is the secret of my own consulting businesses. These steps have worked for me since 2006, through the Great Recession and beyond.
An answer to a question posted on on Alignable.com:”Consultants, What Is the Best Way to Reach Decision Makers and Acquire New Clients?”
“Getting Meetings With Decision-Makers” Is Backwards
If you are trying to get meetings with decision-makers, you’re working backwards.
What’s in it for them to meet with you? They don’t wake up in the morning and think: “What decisions can someone convince me to make today?” “How can I find someone to help me spend more money?” They know you’re selling them on a meeting so you can sell them on a service. Meh.
Instead, you want the decision-makers to come to you with their problems, so you can solve them. Here’s how.
Your Real Elevator Speech: You Help People
Start by seeing yourself as someone who helps people. That’s your initial elevator speech. In all your contacts, you’re there to help them solve issues. No charge. The little helps here and there are free samples that show that you are competent. It builds trust.
My personal twist on this is that I love helping people solve really ugly problems once and for all. I’m funny that way. People problems. Difficult personalities. Office politics. “Lost” causes. The harder the better. Does that sound crazy? Probably. But does it interesting, useful, and memorable?
When networking, just help people. Like crazy. One great example of this is Mike Kawula. You can’t help but like him. He’s always there for you. And did I mention that he’s a Twitter marketing guru and his Social Quant service is superb? (He didn’t pay for this plug, I wanted to tell you about him. See how that works?)
When not networking, offer ONE free, time-limited consultation, so your time doesn’t get eaten up. If your services are good and you listen, listen, listen and then deliver amazing insights, you’ll sell more services to 50% to 95% of the people who call for a free consult.
You can see how I structure it by clicking the orange button at the top of this page: http://kcren.com. (Yes, these are my links, as examples. No, I’m not selling here. I’m helping fellow consultants and business owners. Aha…! See how it works?)
CTPM: Your Personal Pipeline of Leads
Next, build a semi-passive pipeline of leads. You’ll eventually get referrals, but first it usually comes from online resources. The online model that works is “CTPM:”
First, create CONTENT that people want. Our primary content starting in 2006 was this GTD App Comparison page. Yours can be any information people really need. Offering it establishes you as an expert and builds trust. Quick resources they can use over and over work best.
Then drive people to it (TRAFFIC) or distribute it using social media, SEO, articles that point to it, and/or Google AdWords.
Then, the free consultation (or an information video like the one on that page) becomes the PRESELL step.
Finally, once they’re convinced you can help them, they buy. That’s the MONETIZE step, it usually happens in that free consulting call.
Upsell So They Love You
Constantly upsell to what they REALLY need most. You need killer services beyond your first offering. If those services solve their toughest problems they’ll love you forever. And they’ll recommend you. Don’t just sell them a one-time fix, help them maintain it over time until they can do it on their own. Instead of a one-time gig you have a one-year contract and a lifelong friend.
In my case, I really want to sell a new kind of leadership where bosses step back and businesses run hands-free. But very few people lay awake at night saying “gosh, I wish I could change my leadership approach.” They don’t realize that old-fashioned management and leadership cause 98% their problems.
Instead, they lay awake saying: “I’m stressed, I must need an app to get organized.” (Really, they think that.) They hear about Getting Things Done by David Allen, so they come to our page to find a good Getting Things Done-capable app. Now we have their eyeballs. They go to our home page, where they see our Total Relaxed Organization time management training, and they get rapid success with it. Trust! Or/then they see our Workflow Analysis and Design, and they say “aha, we REALLY need to fix our team workflow!”
Then, when we do those workflow interviews with everyone on the team confidentially, any leadership/management issues come to the surface. NOW we can recommend what they really need: a new leadership approach that frees everyone to do great things and stop hating their boss.
So, it’s about baby steps, walking them up the pathway, one step at a time, to what they really needed in the first place, AND giving them real value each step of the way.
If the service you offer is good, guarantee it. That removes their risk. Our guarantee says if you don’t see rapid change you love, you can fire us without pay.
Finally, recommend them (first and genuinely), and then ask for their recommendations. Post their testimonials with their faces as you get them, like the ones at the bottom of our home page or on my book site.
That creates social proof.
It takes awhile to build all of this, but… the good news is that if you start now on step 1, you will get some clients just from step 1. Then you get more from step 2, etc. Soon they are coming to you and recommending you because they KNOW you can deliver.
The process takes work, but it is a lot of fun. because you’re helping people all the way.
P.S. What About Writing a Book?
Yes, you can write a book too. However, my book is a new addition to my pipeline, 11 years later. It wasn’t necessary at the start. A truly good book takes 12 to 18 months to write and draws from actual experiences. So you can’t afford to wait to write your book before you start building your pipeline.
Build your pipeline now and your book write start to write itself.