Prospecting 101: How to Find the Clients as an Independent Consultant
As a consultant employed by a consulting firm, you wouldn’t need to worry about prospecting or closing sales.
But when you’re an independent consultant, the work of prospecting and onboarding new clients is on you. And, as you may already know, prospecting for sales is not a walk in the park.
In this article, you will learn how you should be prospecting to find quality clients.
So, without further ado, let’s begin.
1. Create an Ideal Client Persona
Before you start prospecting clients, you need to know who you should sell to and who actually needs your services. You see, there are good prospects, bad prospects, and then there are people who look like prospects but they are not. Just like a sailor needs a compass to navigate, you, as a freelance consultant, need an ideal client persona to find the right prospects.
Here is what your client persona template should include:
- Background of the prospect
- Prospect’s goals
- Annual income
- Worries and fears
This is just a template, and you can add more information to it. But the bottom line is: you need to know exactly what you’re looking for in an ideal prospect.
For example, let’s fill in some of the bullet points that are mentioned above to create an ideal client for digital transformation services.
“John is a 39-year-old director of a London-based supermarket chain. The company’s annual turnover is $30 million. John is frustrated because his business lacks digitalization. His goal is to enable customers to do a self-checkout at the counter or place their orders online.”
2. Use a Sales Pipeline to Visualize the prospects
Prospecting clients is not a lazy person’s job. You have to conduct a lot of research, send quite a few emails, and dial numbers on your phone until your fingers hurt. And then, the next challenge will be to keep track of all this activity. Fortunately, there’s a process to make tracking your progress with prospects easier. It’s called a sales pipeline.
It is a visual representation of the progress of a sale and it consists of various stages of sales. The stages are not set in stone, so feel free to add or remove stages at your discretion. Here’s an example of various stages in a sales pipeline: New, Contact, Qualification, Pitch, Closed-Won, Closed-Lost.
When you’re prospecting for sales and have multiple clients in the pipeline, you’d have a better understanding of where to direct your attention and energy. For instance, if you view your sales pipeline on your screen and find out that a particular prospect is at the buying stage, you could focus on closing them first instead of worrying about the others who haven’t even responded to your email.
3. Pitch Like a Silver-Tongued Motivational Speaker
Every salesperson who is prospecting for sales looks forward to the moment when they’d have the opportunity to face the client and pitch them their services. However, you should know that the process of pitching starts way before you scheduled meetings with the client. At least 24 hours before you’re set to meet them, make sure you do your homework.
You must know when your client’s company was founded, who their customers and competitors are, what products/services they sell, etc. If possible, try to gain information on the client by checking out their social media profiles. Do they like golf or are they into football? What kind of music do they listen to? What type of food do they like? All this information can be very helpful when the client is sitting in front of you.
And then, when your client is listening to your pitch, be prepared to face objections and questions. It’s a good idea to be aware of any possible objections beforehand so you can address them instantly. Throughout the pitch, your aim should be to sell your client a vision, not a service or product. For example, you're not selling “digital transformation consulting”, you’re selling “happy customers who have the greatest experience while shopping at 39-year-old John’s supermarket”.
4. Learn the Art of Selling With Social Media
Social media is not just a tool for posting pictures and getting likes and comments on them. If you play your cards right, you could find new clients and generate thousands of dollars a month by selling with Consultport . It all starts with choosing the right platform. So, if you’re an independent management consultant, you’re more likely to find your prospects on LinkedIn than on Instagram or TikTok.
Selling with social media requires knowledge of content marketing. You cannot just send random people messages in order to sell your services. In fact, you may get blocked or barred from using a particular platform as some users may report your intrusion as online harassment.
Instead of aggressively pitching strangers on LinkedIn, you could start posting relevant content that attracts your prospects. Also, remember to socialize a bit before discussing business. Small talks through messages and comments go a long way. There is a reason why it’s called “social” media. Once you have built rapport, you can crank it up a notch and make things more professional. Remember to be patient though, because selling with social media is like a marathon, not a sprint.
5. Leverage CRM Systems to Make the Sales Process More Convenient and Effective
What are CRM systems? CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. Simply put, it’s a technology that you can use to manage all interactions with prospects. If you will recall, we just discussed sales pipelines in the third point. Well, any good CRM software usually includes sales pipelines and much more.
So, if a business owner or a fellow consultant asks you: “What are CRM systems and who is it for?” You should tell them that it’s a must-have technological tool that helps almost every department in a company—from sales to customer service.
Here are some benefits of CRM tools for freelance consultants:
- Better intelligence on customer lifecycle
- The ability to automate repetitive tasks, such as sending follow-up emails
- You can schedule social media content for weeks in advance
- You can keep track of every single email and message your prospects send you
Don’t rely on rough notes or spreadsheets. Get your hands on a CRM tool. They are way more convenient to use and will make your life as an independent consultant a heck of a lot easier.