You’ve started offering services in your field of expertise but now it’s time to build your consulting business pipeline.
Your Consulting Business Pipeline
Do you have a well-developed network? Are you self-directed? Do you have an impressive portfolio filled with client success stories? If you answered yes to all of those questions that’s exactly why you are a consultant. Whether you’ve got skills in project management, software, communications, marketing or accounting — you figured out you have the drive to run your own business and help those looking to benefit from what you know.
The first step you took on this journey was to understand where your strengths and expertise lie. You’ve identified your niche, your unique point of view in the industry, and now you’re meeting some type of demand for your experience.
Starting out as a consultant is challenging but if you’re organized and self-motivated you’re already off to a great start. Next, you’ll find it’s also important to manage client expectations, meet deadlines and manage your business finances.
Keeping the Sales Pipeline Full
There’s another aspect of your consulting career you’ll learn to develop with time. It’s the balance between selling and spending time with clients. Yes, there could be a constant tension here. However, professional services firms to individual consultants focusing on engineering, law, technology, and marketing need to walk this line. Do it well to keep that consulting business pipeline full.
Best Tips to Build a Consulting Business Pipeline
To get the most out of your consulting business and create a healthy pipeline of new business opportunities while you are working with clients directly, consider the following tips. Follow these tips closely and you’ll gain repeat clients while expanding your reach and reputation.
Build a great website.
A website is your home base. It represents you and what you do. It’s the number one tool to to get get potential clients to even consider your services. If you believe creating a Google My Business profile is enough these days — it isn’t. Invest in a website that has all the SEO you need to make you relevant to Google. We’re talking backlinks and building your domain authority. If you don’t know about any of these terms, invest in consulting services – yes, indeed – to help you. It’s that important. For some businesses, a website becomes a key tool to track leads and book meetings to further grow the business. The bottom line is that your consulting business website is the first impression of you and your business. Make it great.
Create repeatable service lines or offerings.
You have a set of skills or experiences that you sell to others to help them achieve their business objectives. In a sense, you have already specialized in a few areas be that a certain industry, business type, or project need based on the previous projects you have done. Take a look at your experiences and think about how they group or where there are common themes. This “packaging” exercise will help you better identify new opportunities as well as articulate how you can help clients. This also helps begin to build some repeatability in engagements versus every project being custom work requiring a new approach each time.
Build out client case studies you can share with prospects.
As you complete projects, be sure to create case studies detailing what you did and the results achieved. These are great ways to share with prospective clients the experiences you or your firm has as well as the measurable results delivered. They do not have to be major productions, simply follow the “Situation-Complication-Solution” model to tell the story. If your clients are shy or sharing them by name is not appropriate, then simply describe the business in more generic terms – “large consumer products company”, etc. These not only help you market your consulting business with actual engagement details but provides a way to narrow scope with new client prospects by using previous projects in the sales discussion.
Network and network some more.
As your grow your consulting business pipeline, you’ll realize that referrals are key to expanding your business. However, they are not the end all. Get that elevator pitch ready and network. There are so many ways to network these days. Yes, in person is always great. Whether you attend meetups or conferences — you should be in the mindset that any opportunity could be around the corner. Social networks can help anyone looking to build a consulting business pipeline with networking these days. LinkedIn and Facebook groups are great ways to get in touch with your audience. Why not write and share blog posts about what you know best about topics in your industry. Networking online also helps you stay in the know about professional meetups and conferences. Another plus point to online networking is the instant connection you get to those who think like you or have similar career interests which is definitely harder to find in person.
Manage your pipeline and update it weekly.
It is very easy to get distracted from selling by client conference calls, deliverables and deadlines but be sure to make weekly (at least) time to examine your pipeline and take inventory of new prospects, outstanding proposals, and total pipeline value. You won’t close everything so be sure to constantly evaluate your pipeline and be proactive about sourcing new opportunities or re-engaging with previous clients about any new needs they may have. The best way to keep track of what’s going on in your consulting business pipeline? Why customer relationship management (CRM) software. Of course!
The future of your consulting business pipeline
Consulting businesses – like any business out there – want to get to a point where they have built a customer pipeline. You too can have a steady flow of new clients by thinking about opportunities and managing your customer relationships in the best way possible.
Make your consulting business work smarter today.
Read about how other consulting businesses are putting a better sales process in place. Read our case studies to get inspired:
Try it today — at no cost. The most adopted customer relationship management (CRM) software is used by consulting businesses – in an array of industries – around the world. Sign up for a free trial of PipelineDeals.