Get Consulting Prospects to Buy

You want to expand your consulting practice by expanding your current client base. You may be stretching yourself thin but unless your consulting gigs are the type that take up 110% of your time every time out, then you usually want to make sure you have several streams of income going at once, and that you’re constantly marketing to draw new prospects into your sales funnel. You need to cover yourself because no matter how good of a consultant you are, you’ll still have the occasional cash-strapped client who waits till the 11th hour to bail on you. When they do, that leaves a big void that you can’t possibly fill in time for your next month’s planned income – unless you already have some sales prospects in your funnel who you may be able to convince to retain you now.

It happened to me this past month so it is certainly fresh in my mind… Here are three of my top hacks for converting those prospects to new business quickly:

Consulting 101 Series:

  • Starting a Consulting Business
  • How to Avoid Working for Free
  • How to Handle Unethical Client Requests
  • Pushing the Project Forward
  • Hired to Fire
  • 5 Suggestions for Managing Client Emergencies
  • Working Around an Unreasonable Deadline
  • How to Turn Weaknesses into Strengths
  • 4 Ways to Get Consulting Prospects to Buy
  • How to Handle Client Misunderstandings and Miscommunication

Change your payment terms. If you are always asking for payment in advance, mix it up and offer a hesitant new client or a past client that you want to re-engage to signup for a 50/50 payment plan. By this I mean 50% up front and 50% at the end of the gig. It’s highly likely that someone will bite. Especially when you’re working with smaller organizations, you will find that paying in advance for the custom services you provide may be something they desire, but can’t often afford. Meet them somewhere – meet them in the middle with this 50/50 plan. It will probably get you over the hump and get the deal closed.

Throw in two freebies. Add not one, but at least two free items or services of value that you can give them but won’t kill you on cost or time. It will mean a lot to them and they won’t know that it isn’t that big of a sacrifice to you…they are only going to look at it from their perspective. It’s likely that as you have been talking to this potential client you’ve heard some needs or some pain points that you could probably easily help them out on by just giving away a couple of add-on services or freebies that will really make your offer golden.

Give them more of the same, but for the same price. If you are giving them some kind of service for, say, a four week period…give them an extra week for the same four week price. That extra service period may very well seal the deal for them. Don’t make it something that is going to push you over the edge and make it impossible for you to deliver quality service to them or to other clients, but if you can an extra week or five or ten extra hours of service in the contract without wearing yourself out or making the whole gig much less profitable, then to the right potential client that will mean more than % discount. It’s all in the presentation.

Offer to “look at” something that is a need for them but may be outside of your normal services. You do ‘x’ and they need your services for ‘x.’ But they also need ‘y’. If ‘y’ is something you know you can do but is not usually in your normal service offering, offer it and see if that seals the deal. Again, don’t offer something you can’t handle – the last thing you ever want to do is fail. But much of what I offer as a consultant has developed out of new client requests and I rely on those new client innovations to help expand my service offering…and it has worked well for me

Some Problems with Your Marketing

The biggest problem most businesses have is marketing.

In fact, the top fear of small business owners is the inability to market effectively and their top pain point is poor sales. 66% say finding new customers is a major concern.

That’s no surprise considering 47% of small business owners handle marketing efforts on their own. When it comes to marketing, it’s easy to get bogged down with various techniques and strategies.

But what do you do when your marketing initiatives aren’t working as well as expected?

Instead of continuing to waste time and money on campaigns that aren’t paying off, it may be time to figure out how you can develop a sensible plan for making your marketing efforts work out right.

Want to know how?

Why Most Marketing Campaigns Fail Miserably

Before I jump into the details, let’s set the record straight.

Why do most marketing campaigns fail? Because promoting and selling products or services only works when people know, like, and trust you.

Far too many business owners are looking for the latest bright shiny object that will do the marketing for them. But if you want to improve your marketing and sales, you need people to know, like, and trust you to be successful.

The problem is…

  1. Obscurity–Your potential customers may not know who you are. Even if they do, they’re thinking about their hopes, dreams, and problems–not whatever you’re trying to sell. As long as you are unknown or unimportant in their eyes, your chances of making a sale are slim to none.
  2. Credibility– The second reason marketing efforts fall flat is credibility, or rather, your lack of it. People have heard it all when it comes to marketing claims. The result? Most of us are skeptical when it comes to advertising. That’s a problem since nobody buys without belief.
So, how can you overcome these two marketing campaign killers? Now that you know the two reasons marketing efforts fail, you can adapt.

Rethink Your Approach to Marketing

How then should you approach your marketing? Here are some recommendations for tackling both problems.

Offer a guarantee–If you want to establish credibility and lower buyer resistance, reduce your customer’s risk. For example, offer a money back guarantee or a 30-day trial. A strong guarantee shows you stand behind your product or service. You can guarantee your product, your service, or your customer’s results.

Deliver social proof–Skeptical prospects will rarely accept your claims at face value. But they will listen to other people. So include proof elements in your marketing. Case studies, customer testimonials, study data from respected sources and statements that support your point from a major periodical can all be effective. After all, the best way to be credible is to prove that your product or service really works.

Use specific details–Another credibility booster is specificity. When people consider buying something, they want to learn as much as they can. The more detailed the information you provide, the more credible it is to your prospects.

Partner with a like-minded business–To get attention for your small business, consider working with a complementary business to market to your common prospects. The strategic partnership could give your marketing efforts more reach without more cost.

Content marketing–This is one of the most cost effective ways to solve both marketing problems. Effective content marketing can position you as a trusted resource for your ideal customer. It also helps you gain visibility. A win all the way around.

Hold a photo contest–You could give away a $50 Amazon.com gift card to one lucky winner. To enter, you’d have users take a picture using your product or service and share on social media. This way your customers become part of your marketing team and help get the word out about your business.

Key Takeaway

When you tackle obscurity and lack of credibility, your prospects will be more receptive to your marketing efforts.

It will take time and effort to adjust your marketing to achieve your business objectives. But when you do, positive results will soon follow

Sell Yourself

The smaller your business, the more you and your business are synonymous. People may not know the name of your business at all; they might just know you and for that reason, you have to know how to sell, “you.” As you grow, your business will hopefully gain an identity outside of you but for now, you’re everything.

You know how it works—some people are really good at talking. They’re the people at the events who have a story for any situation. They’re the ones who bounce from group to group seemingly knowing everybody—or can drop a name that they and the group have in common. They’re smooth—sometimes cheesy and annoying—but somehow, they seem to have an endless pipeline of business. As much as you don’t want to hear it, you might need to become a little more like those people. Don’t worry, we’re not advocating turning you into somebody you’re not but there are some skills to learn when selling yourself.

Confidence!

Let’s just call it what it is. Those schmoozers are exuding confidence. They may struggle with confidence just as much as the next person but they know that confidence is what gets them in the door. They know that confidence is professionally attractive so they play the part even if they don’t feel the part. “Fake it until you make it” is a big part of selling yourself. Of course, there’s a fine line between confident and cocky.

Persistence

We’re not done with the clichés’. How about “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” For every opportunity (unless it’s some equivalent to a root canal) there are loads of people going for it. Every customer you’re trying to land is being courted by others just like you. Your job is to be persistent—even kind of annoying. Keep sending the e-mails; keep sending the texts; let them know when something changes that is valuable to them. Just keep in contact with them. Even if they’re not ready to buy now, they’ll think of you later.

Don’t Be Boring

For real—even if you’re not great in social situations, you have to find a way to be unique. Be proud of your introvertness—there’s nothing wrong with you but that doesn’t give you license to not stand out. People who don’t stand out can’t sell themselves because they never get noticed. The cheese-machine at the party is getting noticed.

And of course, your product has to be unique too. That’s great that you design websites but what makes you unique? If you’re not unique, you’re boring. Don’t be boring.

Offer a Solution

Your customers are plenty-smart enough to identify the problems. What they need is for somebody to dig in to the details and offer a solution. Not something that MIGHT work; something that WILL work.

Offer more of a solution than your competition. Create a detailed report, show that you were super thoughtful about their problem, offer some top level advice free of charge. Become part of their solution before selling your product. Talk is cheap. Your customer certainly wants to know about you but they’re more interested in how you will solve the problem.

Stop with the Resume Speak

Seriously—nobody wants to hear you describe yourself as a problem-solver, a go-getter, or as having great attention to detail. Your customer wants specifics. Who have you worked with that had problems like theirs and how did you solve them? And by the way, attention to detail is probably something to stay away from because you risk talking to somebody who has greater attention to detail than you. Are your handouts stapled in the exact same place? Are your clothes 100% wrinkle-free? Might want to stay away from that kind of language.

Non-Verbals

You know that what we say is only a tiny piece of what really communicates, right? It’s actually your non-verbal communication that tells the person more about you than anything. Sit up straight, make eye contact, don’t cross your arms, walk at a leisurely yet intentional pace, avoid talking with your hands excessively, have a firm handshake. Your non-verbals will probably sell you more than anything else.

Be Positive

We all live in the same world. Everybody likes to complain about something, don’t they? Social media is a cesspool of complaining and we all know at least a few people that can find the negative in anything.

But all of us are looking for positive people to place in our lives. We’re looking for that breath of fresh air that we have trouble even being to ourselves. Find ways to find the positive. Smile a lot, be thankful for what you have, talk about things you enjoy, tell your customer that everything is going to be alright. Positivity equals confidence. Don’t look or sound miserable. Nobody needs any more of that in their life. Positive people will always land more opportunities