I have been running a marketing consultancy business since 2003. It hasn’t always been the case that I have loved my job, but having just returned from a two day trip with a longstanding client, I am flying (I was literally too as it was outside of England). The reason is that this client has become a personal friend as well as a great client. How did that happen and has this always been the way with my consultancy clients. No way!
It was a great moment for me to stop and look back on this. I used to be a marketing consultant to anyone, but over time I realised that this wasn’t good for me and probably not for my clients. When you start a consultancy business you think you can’t be picky and choosy over your clients, you feel you have to ‘take what you can get’.
However, if I was going to give the young Nick any advice now at the start of his business it would be to say no to the wrong clients even when you need the money to pay the bills. It WILL get you to the right clients so very much faster.
Why and how does taking on the wrong consultancy clients stop you from getting the right ones?
Well, all sorts of reasons, but here are the main ones:
- When you take on the wrong clients, it saps you of your energy and your joy for business (and life).
- When you are working for the ‘wrong clients’, you don’t have time (or the energy as above) to go and find the right ones because you are busy working twice as hard to keep the wrong client happy (which will never work in any event).
How do you start to attract more of the right consultancy clients?
This part is actually incredibly easy and is the main reason that the consultancy client I mentioned at the top of this article is now a personal friend as well as a client.
Be. Yourself. Completely.
Don’t be anything that you are not. Be the real you in your emails, on your website and in your conversations with prospects and you will attract all of your perfect clients very quickly.
I used to fight this. I would be how I thought my clients would want me to be if they were looking for a marketing consultant. It wasn’t that I changed, more that I held some of ‘me’ back. When a client wouldn’t do what they said they were going to do, I would be nice about it. I wouldn’t give them a hard time. I would just ‘hope’ that they would do it next time.
I changed to 3 strikes and you’re out. I got rid of the clients who would never do what they said or needed to do to grow their business and would talk about these experiences to my new prospects. Suddenly, the ‘dreamers’ who are never going to do what they needed to do to grow their business stopped coming forward to me to ask for help and those who liked what I had to say came forwards.
My whole joy in my business comes from working with a client who grows their business quickly by doing what we agree that they will do. Suddenly these clients came forwards, I told them what to do, they did it and got results and we were both incredibly happy with the relationship. Win win. The only way it is ever meant to be in business.
My strong advice to people running consultancy businesses now is to ensure that they always are completely themselves. Yes, it will turn some people away and that is EXACTLY what you want it to do. Those people that are turned off by the real you are not a good fit. You don’t want them.
How do you know when you are talking to the wrong type of consultancy clients?
The easiest way to know this is to trust your gut. It is NEVER wrong. I can look back at EVERY bad decision I have made in running my consultancy business and trace the start of it back to a queasy/uneasy feeling in my gut which I have ignored.
This feeling might have come by just talking with a prospect, or it might have come from my feeling after getting off the telephone with them, but it was there and I ignored it.
If you aren’t into ‘gut’ feelings and don’t believe them to be true, you are wrong. Read Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent book ‘Blink’ and you will understand and save yourself a lot of stress in your consultancy business.
Which stage are you at in your consultancy business?
Where are you on your consultancy journey?
Are you attracting your perfect clients or the wrong ones?
Do you know how to scale your consultancy business?
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