Selling consulting business is easy when you’re an expert in a burning, urgent need that your clients are desperate to address. How do you identify the next, big consulting spend your clients will make? This one’s easy.
Let’s say you trip on a crack in the sidewalk and stumble into Reginald Rollydolly, CEO of Biertaysters, Inc. Holy cow! You’ve always wanted to work with Biertaysters.
Not only would they be a great client, they’re pretty typical of the industry you serve. If you could deduce the urgent, burning needs that will soak up Biertaysters’ consulting budgets the next couple of years, you could confidently position your consulting firm for growth.
After all, you know that building a consulting practice is much easier when you’re Fishing Where the Fish Are; i.e., you’re offering a solution to a problem (or aspiration) prospects are painfully aware of and urgently want to solve. (See this book and this article.) The question is, where will the fish be tomorrow?
You want to know your target industry’s emerging issues, strategic thrusts, and nascent challenges, right? Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a crystal ball?
Uh, no. You’re overcomplicating this.
My dad used to tell a story about the most accurate weatherman on TV back in the 1850s, or whenever it was my dad was a kid. When the weatherman was pressed for his secret to forecasting he admitted, “I look outside the window, and whatever it looks like today is what I predict for tomorrow.”
In reality, that technique is only about 35% accurate**, but who cares? The weatherman’s secret applies beautifully to the consulting business.
Two Weather Prediction Laws of Consulting
- A business that has previously invested in addressing an issue is more likely than other prospects to seek consulting help on that issue.
- A business that has previously engaged a consultant to work on an issue is very likely to hire a consultant in the future to work on the same issue.
Those laws are highly correlated, of course. Again, who cares? The point is, if you want to know who will buy your services, find out who has spent big dollars in the past to address the challenge your consulting firm is known for solving. The same research also reveals what they’re likely to spend money on next.
Every year, residents of Seattle still need raingear, homeowners in Buffalo still need snow shovels and drivers in Los Angeles need cell phones to talk on while they’re stuck in traffic.
You show me Biertayster has spent $1 million on process improvement and I’ll bet you Biertayster is likely to spend another $1 million on the same thing over the next five years.
Who buys forecasting software? Those who bought it in the past. Who wants consulting help with forecasting? Those who spend money on forecasting software and systems
As consultants, we don’t have to accurately predict our prospects’ weather; we just need to offer umbrellas to the 35% of consulting prospects who seem to always need them.
So, if you want to know the next big project your consulting firm could win, simply answer one question:
What challenge(s) do your clients have that they’ve already paid to solve?
I’d like to hear what you think your next big consulting project will be. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.