As a consulting firm leader, you’ve probably wondered more than once how you can increase the Need for the services you offer potential clients.
So, how do you?
It’s a trick question.
Your consulting firm doesn’t create or increase needs; you discover or reveal them.
If not enough potential clients suffer from the problem you solve, then choose a different problem to solve!
More likely, though, your universe of sufferers is sufficient, but you’re not talking to enough of them (“Untouched Sufferers”), or they aren’t aware of their suffering (“Clueless Sufferers”), or they’re not motivated to ease their pain (“Silent Sufferers”).
Targeting prospects who are already aware of their Need and urgently Want to address it, is what I call Fishing Where the Fish Are. That’s a much more profitable (and fun) approach than trying to manufacture need where none exists.
The trick is, of course, to find those hungry fish. You accomplish that through networking, outreach and other visibility-building tactics.
Without a doubt, the most effective, reliable path to finding prospects who Need and Want what your consulting firm offers is simply to talk with more prospects. Create and nurture relationships.
Set yourself a goal of establishing 60 new, A1 relationships over the next year. That’s only five a month.
Action Step: Your first step is to introduce yourself to new prospects; a task you can kick off today!
You know people who assume they know what’s right while disdaining guidance from those who are wiser and better informed. Other than your teenage kids, I mean.
Is there anything more frustrating than watching a prospective consulting client race down the wrong track when, if they only hired you, you could set them straight?
Unfortunately, awakening your consulting firm’s prospects to their sorry state of affairs requires effort and persistence that rarely pays out.
However, if you’re determined to sound the alarm, then invest in butt-kicking, diagnostics. Create a method for your prospects to learn they’re in trouble, below par, or heading for disaster.
Make your diagnostic self-administered so that you’re not cast as the bearer of bad news.
Also, be prepared for denial. Like teenagers, consulting clients are prone to ignore evidence they have a problem and need help.
Action Step: Step one in creating a great diagnostic is identifying the difference between your clients’ success and failure. If you don’t know that already, embark on a couple of weeks of research among your clients and prospects.
Finally we come to that group of your consulting prospects who know they need your help, but aren’t interested enough or don’t see it as a high enough priority to hire your consulting firm.
They’re just like you when you admit you’re addicted to chocolate but don’t want to kick the habit. Or maybe that was me.
Either way, Silent Sufferers’ emotional attachment to the problem your consulting firm solves isn’t sufficiently motivating.
In these cases you need to tap into your prospect’s deep-seated desires, aspirations and fears in order to fan their flames of Want.
You can paint mouth-watering images of successful outcomes, and relate frightening tales of clients who failed to act. However, these tactics yield mixed results, because consulting generally isn’t an impulse purchase.
Action Step: Uncover your prospects’ highest priorities, their most inspiring dreams and their most worrisome concerns. How? Ask questions, pay attention, be interested, empathize, don’t sell.
From there you can bridge the gap between your project and higher Want if it’s in the best interest of your client.
Touching more prospects via outreach, employing a diagnostic, or connecting to prospects’ core desires. Which of these approaches do you think could work for your consulting firm?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.