In the past, the independent consulting practice was all word of mouth. Marketing was not essential and the business consultants were dependent on the oral recommendations for new assignments.
But the whole scene has changed now. The competition is so fierce today that it is difficult for the independent consultants to get their message out. Running a consulting firm today requires a consistent inflow of clients and thus, independent consultants need to hone their selling skills in order to find the clients.
Selling the consulting services has become more important today than delivering the consulting services. It is only after the consultant is able to sell his services that his real consulting skills come into play.
Every independent consultant knows that selling consultancy services and finding clients is not a simple job in today’s world. A Consulting professional without selling skills is likely to face too many challenges in acquiring the clients; despite the fact that he has strong consulting skills.
This is the reason why consultants need to plot a robust marketing plan, so that their invaluable consulting skills that are acquired by the years of hard work and practice don’t get lost in the shuffle.
One of the widely accepted methods for finding the clients in consulting practice is relationship marketing. Relationship marketing involves partnering up with the existing clients and winning their confidence for the further projects. Building relationships with various people involved in the project helps the consultant build credibility and reputation of their brand.
But relationship marketing is not a complete solution. Many consulting assignments are a one time job and consultants have to work with new clients every single time. These new clients may or may not trust the old clients of the consultant. Therefore this becomes the limitation of relationship marketing.
Referrals are also helpful for the consultants to get new assignments. It is the oldest and most commonly used method by consultants for acquiring the clients. Even today, many of the consultants depend on the referrals for new assignments.
But in today’s business environment, referrals are not a perpetual source of acquiring the clients for every consultant. Only few of the established consultants receive a sufficient amount of referrals that they have to put no further marketing efforts. Thus, every consultant cannot always depend on the referrals for new assignments.
However, it does not mean that the referrals and building relationships are totally useless. The problem is that Recommendations and Referrals work no longer up to the expectations and consultants need additional ways to acquire the clients. The real challenge in front of the independent consultants is how to obtain new clients when they are actually needed.
Below are some new methods, suitable for independent consultants to get new assignments. Although there is no single and perfect method available that guarantees new assignment, it is up to the consultant to choose the best method which help him get clients.
- Focusing on Niche: Marketing your services to the anonymous masses will not deliver the desired results. Unless its a big consulting firm, the consultants are advised to focus on their niche. Consultants must identify their ideal class of clients first and then target them. Ascertaining which clients to target provides a direction to your marketing efforts. Therefore it is advisable for the consultants to focus on their niche.
- Learning Different Marketing Techniques: Marketing is something that is done with the purpose of generating the leads and promoting the brand name. There are hundreds of marketing techniques available. A Consultants job here is to find out the most suitable marketing techniques for his consulting firm.
- Internet Marketing and Social Media: The arrival of internet has brought various useful trends. Consultants can build their client base online by interacting on numerous social media channels. Although it takes time & some efforts, once a consultant has successfully built online influence, it guarantees engagement with potential clients and helps the consultant generate more leads- on a regular basis.
- Don’t Sell It, Offer It: Consulting professionals who lack sales skills have a great method to prove their competence. The Consultants should give away some free solutions when interviewing the prospective client. An ideal sales process involves giving away free solutions and nothing is better than letting the client try some of your solutions. However, since these solutions are developed by years of practice and hard work, the consultants are advised not to disclose all the aspects of the solutions given away.
Very few clients are able to identify the right consultant with their own judgement among the large number of experts thrown up by Google, LinkedIn and similar websites. It is ironic that in today’s world, a consultant with strong sales skills but moderate consulting skills is more likely to get the assignment as compared to the consultant with moderate sales skills and strong consulting skills.
Like most of the industries, the consulting industry too works on attracting more clients. It’s the consultants’ job to get their message heard which is possible through improving ones sales skills even when the sales skills have no direct relation with the consulting knowledge.
The competition is on the rise and to beat this, better sales & marketing alone can help the consultants to get more assignments and be occupied and have work.