The quest for new clients to grow your consulting firm can feel like a game of hide-and-seek, where you’re the six-year-old and the clients are your eleven-year-old brother who somehow manages to stay hidden despite your best efforts to unearth him.*
Where on earth are those precious new clients to be found? The question is all the more pressing when your consulting firm’s portfolio of current clients is deflating like a leaky tire.
Almost seven years ago, I suggested that the audiences at your in-person speaking engagements are one of the best sources of new clients. However, while in-person speaking can still generate clients, you probably encounter fewer opportunities to employ this tactic now than in the past.
Therefore, the updated, most likely places to find your next client are:
A Sibling of Your Current Client
The sister division of your client inside a large company or another portfolio company held by the PE owner of your current client are good examples of sibling companies. (For a moment there you thought “sibling” was literal, right?)
Since your consulting firm is already producing high quality results at your clients, you start your relationship with sibling prospects with virtually every one of the Six Pillars of Consulting Success in place:
Know – You’re already in the family—a known commodity.
Like – Presumably your current client contacts will vouch for how nice your consulting firm is to work with.
Trust – The results you’ve delivered reinforce that you’re a credible, reliable resource.
Need – Executives who perceive a need in one part of their organization or in one company, are likely to see the same need elsewhere.
Want – Success in one division or company sparks desire for sibling enterprises to keep up.
Value – The proof is in the pudding. Chocolate flavored, of course. You have generated results, and the value of replicating those results elsewhere is obvious.
Your next step is to create relationships with the siblings—as obvious as it seems that they should work with your consulting firm, they may not reach out to you unprompted.
Personal Contact with Your Network (and Introductions)
The most reliable, reasonably quick route to a new client is through personal touch with your network; i.e. conversations on the phone, Zoom/Teams or in person.
Don’t hide behind email and direct messaging. Although those mechanisms can instigate a conversation, to win clients, quickly move to a medium where you can hear and, ideally, see each other.
Consistent conversations lead to consistent new business. It’s a pretty easy equation.
The biggest challenge some consulting firms encounter with this approach is the lack of a network to call. If you only know 15 decision makers, you run out of opportunities quickly.
Or do you?
Your two goals during a conversation are to build the relationship and to solicit an introduction that allows you to build a new relationship.
When you know how to ask for introductions correctly, you can parlay a tiny list of decision makers into a respectable, 100-to-300 person list in a matter of a couple of months. And with that size contact list, your phone calls will routinely produce new business opportunities.
Tribes of Your Influential Partners
Even if your consulting firm’s network is thin, your partners’ tribes may harbor a broad range of high-potential prospects for your consulting firm.
When a highly trusted voice suggests to someone that they should consider engaging your consulting firm, you’ll get a look. And if the trusted figure’s reach is extensive, your consulting firm will receive a lot of looks.
You can reach your partners’ tribes through direct introductions or indirectly through collaboration on articles, podcasts, webinars, panels, diagnostics, etc.
Have any of these sources worked for you?
Text and images are © 2024 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.