Let’s say your consulting firm wants to lasso a few new clients. (Sounds far-fetched, but go with me.) You should search for companies whose number one, burning priority is addressing the problem your consulting firm solves, right? Wrong.
For instance, let’s say you’re targeting the Fortune 500 newcomer ThimbleCurry, Inc. to enrich your portfolio of clients. Intuitively, you maximize your odds of winning a project at ThimbleCurry by:
- Nurturing a relationship with Tim “Don’t Call me Red” Scarlett, the CEO;
- Solving Tim’s most pressing issue: how to increase the dimple count on their signature thimbles.
Alas, your intuition leads you astray on both counts.
Tim’s subordinates are more likely to be decision-makers on consulting projects than he is and, in fact, their subordinates may be even more likely customers for your consulting offering. Aim low. (See page 37 in this book.)
Further, in all likelihood, Tim is already pulling a Vin Diesel on his top problem; i.e., he’s working Fast and Furious on dimple counts.
In most cases, prospective clients are already in motion on their hottest issues.
Yes, prospects who call you out of the blue may be motivated by their most pressing need. That’s true for your current clients too.
But when you’re out prospecting for new clients, look for companies whose Second Circle priorities are the problem you solve.
Your proposition to Tim sounds something like, “Since we’re experts at digital metallurgy, we could take the thimble weight problem you mentioned off your hands. That allows you to focus more on the dimple density issue.”
In other words, “Tim, if you let us work on the Second Circle, you’re more likely to nail the bullseye. (With a thimble.)”
Of course, as you chat with prospects, you have to discover whether your consulting firm’s specialty fits in their Second Circle. Your question for prospects is:
“What are the high priority issues and challenges that you haven’t been able to tackle yet?”
Or, when inquiring about what’s going on in your prospects’ worlds, you can employ two of the most powerful words in a consultant’s vocabulary: “What else?”
If you tend to find yourself submitting proposals that never get signed, you may be chasing projects in the outer circles. Combat that time-sucking issue by asking prospects,
“In the grand scheme of things, how important is this project to you?”
Invest limited (or no) time and energy pursuing low-priority projects.
Historically, which type of project has been easier for you to win–Second Circle or bullseye projects? Share your experience below.
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