How many prospects should there be in your consulting firm’s target market? The more the merrier, right? Not really. There’s a lower limit and an upper limit on your perfect target market size for your boutique consulting firm.
It’s sort of like Debauve & Gallais truffles. Savoring one D&G truffle leaves you crying for another taste. A thousand truffles would bury you, and when they cause you to max out your bathroom scale they’d probably lose their appeal. You have to find the right balance. A one-pound box is just perfect.**
The same holds for the target market of your consulting firm. Too few will leave you hungry for more clients. Too many will make you unattractive. (More on that, in a moment.)
What’s the right balance for your consulting firm? Roughly 300 prospects in your target market.
Three hundred prospects is perfect for a boutique consulting firm to build a $3-$10m practice area. That same number is also the right size for a solo practitioner to build a solid, $450k-$1m practice.
Of course, the dangers of too small a target market are obvious. If there are only one or two truffles in the box and someone else snatches them up, you’re out of chocolatey goodness.
While I’ve seen consulting firms build to $10 million in annual revenue with only a handful of solid clients, and perhaps 20-50 in their Network Core, that’s a risky, long-term financial model.
The downsides of too large a target market are less obvious. If you were running a large consulting firm or a mass-market consumer products company, you might want as large a market as possible.
But you’re not. You’re running an independent consulting firm. You’re D&G, not Hershey. Highly successful boutique and solo consulting firms tend to have smaller target markets than their less-successful counterparts.
Once you get past the friends-and-family stage, clients engage your boutique consulting firm because you have deep experience in their exact situation— usually you’re well versed in their industry and in solving the precise problem they’re facing.
If your target market definition expands too much, you look like a generalist and you become less attractive to new clients than competitors who specialize.
300. Got it. Now what?
First, take a hard look at the current definition of your consulting firm’s target prospect. To help you complete this exercise, define your consulting firm’s prospects using two sets of attributes:
|Qualifiers (All must apply)||Descriptors (What could describe the decision maker)|
Does your definition create a pool of 30 or 300 or 3,000 or 30,000 prospects? If it’s too broad, tighten the descriptive attributes or narrow the scope of the problem you solve.
Once you’ve created a definition of your target that leads you to the right size prospect universe, you can start a visibility-building campaign.
- Using LinkedIn, public databases, and your industry contacts and knowledge, compile a list of as many prospects as possible, with specific names and contact information.
- Starting with the folks you already know, then expanding through referrals and introductions, reach out to your target prospects.
- Nurture relationships with your target 300.
When your Network Core harbors 300 A1s (i.e., 300 decision-makers who will engage in conversation), you’re perfectly positioned to enjoy a successful, lucrative consulting practice.
Out of curiosity, I’m interested in your answer to any of the following questions:
What’s your current target market?
How many decision makers do you estimate are in your current target market?
Do you think you should expand or narrow your focus, or keep it exactly as is?
Does anyone make better truffles than Debauve & Gallais?
Text and images are © 2020 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.