Based on data collected from lead generation firms and shared with us by hundreds of consulting firms, one sales benchmark, in particular, warrants your attention: the likelihood of cold, outbound lead generation (or, similarly, advertising) to result in a project for your consulting firm.
Let’s say you reach out to Clara Coldington, CEO of Dunnoyu, Inc, a person whose position and company precisely match your consulting firm’s ideal target.
What are the chances that your outreach to Clara will result in a consulting project with Dunnoyu in the next year?
About one in 1,000.
Put another way: if Clara works every weekday next month, there’s about a 10-minute window during the entire month she’s amenable to working with your consulting firm. If you happen to contact her during that window, you win. Otherwise, nada.
As a quick reminder, every one of the Six Pillars of Consulting Success must be in place for your consulting firm to win a project from a client.
Let’s apply those to Clara Coldington:
Clara has to Need, Want and Value help from an outside provider. Which means she must be within the approximately 2-3% of your target market that is actively seeking a solution to the issue your consulting firm addresses.*
And Clara has to Know about your consulting firm and bring you to mind as a feasible purveyor of a solution.
And Clara has to Trust that your consulting firm’s solution is the most reliable, credible, valuable alternative to addressing her issue.
And Clara has to decide that she Likes you enough that working with your firm won’t cause heartburn or ruin her day.
That’s a lot of Ands!
Need and Want are difficult for your consulting firm to affect. Value is a mixed bag, only partly influenceable by you.
However, Know and Trust (and Like) are within your control and those pillars are linked directly to your consulting firm’s activities.
Link #1: Visibility and Know
Every speech, whitepaper, book, podcast or other visibility-building effort your consulting firm engages in increases the likelihood of your consulting firm blipping onto Clara’s radar.
Link #2: Relationship Strength and Know
Clara’s likelihood to remember your consulting firm is directly correlated with the number and depth of interactions you have with her during a given time period.
Link #3: Relationship Strength and Trust
Familiarity translates to Trust. Frequently the relationship between familiarity and Trust is so strong that clients select the consulting firm the client knows best rather than the consulting firm best suited to address the client’s challenge.
Link #4: Reputation and Trust
Clara’s Trust in your consulting firm grows every time she encounters your relevant, high-quality, value-adding visibility-building efforts or she talks with one of your delighted clients.
What if a prospect like Clara calls your consulting firm out of the blue? In that happy scenario, Clara entered the 3% who Need, Want and Value outside help and remembered that your firm potentially offers a reliable solution.
So what? What should your consulting firm do with this information?
Action Steps Based on the Sales Benchmark
Adopt a Long-Term View of Business Development
- When you establish a relationship with a prospective client, assume it will take years of patient nurturing before that contact becomes a client.
- Recognize that you can’t drive an uptick in business in weeks or a few months. If you want new clients next year, engage in Business Development activity now.
Don’t Chase the 2-3%
- Unless your consulting firm is already well known and has a well-established reputation, finding Clara then reaching out to her is, overall, a waste of your time and money.
Constantly Engage in Reputation-Enhancing, Visibility-Building Activity
- Commit to ongoing, multi-year marketing activities, producing dozens, scores or hundreds of opportunities for prospective clients to learn about your consulting firm.
Nurture Your Current Network Core
- The long-term view mentioned above only works if you nurture your contacts. Reach out, connect, stay Right-Side Up.
Actively Build Relationships Beyond Your Current Network Core
- Your consulting firm’s Network Core will grow stale over time. To create a stable, growing consulting firm, add new relationships every year.
Now you have confirmation that the benchmark for cold outreach turning into paying clients is distressingly low.
How does that information affect your plans for the coming year?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.