You may have a (reasonably) solid plan in place to win consulting business from two groups of decision makers: your current clients who could engage your consulting firm for more projects, and totally new clients who could hire your consulting firm for the first time.
Securing follow-on work with current clients is relatively easy, whereas lassoing totally new clients can be downright challenging.
There are, however, two groups of decision-makers in addition to current clients and totally new clients. Adding those two groups to your business development approach will increase your odds of winning consulting projects, boosting revenue and creating a more stable consulting practice.
You’re in good company if you lump individuals and organizations together. For instance, Madeline Dorr, the CEO, of Appalachian Misadventures may be a single entry in your contact database. You may also have contact entries for Mattie’s sister, Corrine (“Corrie”), who runs the Paranom-Asia division and their brother Maurice (“Mor”), who runs a team out of Calembour, France. **
Generally, you think of the Dorr siblings together, as part of one organization: Appalachain Misadventures. If Appalachian is currently a client, you strive to win additional projects, and if they’re not yet a client you target them with your marketing activities.
There are a couple of other options, though.
By considering people (a.k.a. contacts) separately from their employers, though, you’ll reveal two additional classes of decision-makers.
Each of the four groups of decision-makers is explored below with the associated strategy, goal, tactics and the percentage of your Business Development (BD) efforts that group of decision makers should receive.
Current Decision-Makers at Current Clients
Strategy: Go Deep
Goal: Capture every available dollar your contact could spend on consulting.
Tactics: Deliver outstanding work that warrants repeat business. Keep an eye out for additional opportunities and phases. Strengthen your relationship with your contact. Potentially include your contact in your marketing efforts.
BD Focus: 10-40%. If your clients don’t have multiple buying points and you’ve only scratched the surface of possible projects, then concentrate more effort on Going Deep.
New Decision-Makers at Current Clients
Strategy: Go Wide
Goal: Create relationships then win business with every decision-maker in your client’s organization, across groups, divisions, functions, geographies, etc.
Tactics: Include a broad, client audience in your projects’ kickoffs, information gathering, and report outs. Ask for internal introductions. Client-specific lunch ‘n learns, webinars and thought leadership publications.
BD Focus: 0-30%. If your clients have multiple buying points, then prioritize this strategy over Going Deep. Your consulting firm’s position will be much more stable when you can retain key clients despite your initial decision-maker’s departure or your clients’ organizational shakeups.
Current Decision-Makers at Prospective Clients
Strategy: Go After
Goal: Follow your contacts when they move to new organizations and leverage the relationships you’ve built to win business from entirely new companies.
Tactics: Actively help your contacts advance their careers. Emotionally support executives who are between jobs. Stay on top of new hires and suggest a “First 100 Days” offering.
BD Focus: 5-10%. This group may seem entirely opportunistic; however, if you treat Go After as an explicit strategy that you’ll devote time to, you’ll find a surprising number of opportunities to put it into practice.
New Decision-Makers at Prospective Clients
Strategy: Go Fish
Goal: Win a steady stream of new clients with contacts and organizations that have not worked with you previously.
Tactics: The Five Marketing Musts, described in depth in this book, and in numerous prior articles.
BD Focus: 60-100%. Even if you have a full portfolio of current clients with whom you can Go Deep and Go Wide, dedicate at least 60% of your new business efforts to a Go Fish strategy. Fishing for entirely new clients is much more difficult and time consuming than pursuing current clients, and is vitally important to your consulting firm’s long term health.
Which of the four “Go” strategies has been most successful for you and your consulting firm?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.