Being a consultant can be challenging. Whilst there are many benefits of working for yourself such as freedom to work your own hours, there are also times where being a consultant can be hard.
The main challenge consultants face is finding new clients to do business with. Even if you find yourself busy with lots of work one month, the next month they could cancel a contract or not pay on time when you invoice them.
If you’ve already got clients, it’s important to provide them with great service and results so that they renew their contract with you and reduce the amount of pressure on you to find new clients.
Check in with your clients regularly to make sure they’re happy with the level of work you’re providing and see if there’s anything else they need. You may find they need help with other things that you can assist with and you can increase their monthly spend with you.
Clients don’t want the hassle of looking for someone else to replace you with and it’s much easier for them to stick with you – but only if you’re doing a great job.
Build Quality Referrals
Keeping your customers happy will not only mean they keep using you for work but will also lead to them recommending you to other people, winning you more business. Referrals are the best way to win new clients as people naturally want to work with someone who comes highly recommended.
If you’re a tradesman or a skilled professional, there are many websites like SafeTrades4You that you can be featured and accredited on. This can help people find you online and get in touch with you.
Unfortunately, there are times when even the best consultants are hit with unexpected challenges. Even if you’re providing great service, clients can still cancel their contracts with you through no fault of your own. They may be going through a difficult time in their business forcing them to cut costs or moving in a different direction where your services are no longer needed.
That’s why it’s important to constantly seek new business and grow your client base.
Sell Your Services
Before approaching any new clients, you need to make sure you have a website that is up to scratch and demonstrates exactly what you do. New clients will naturally Google you to find out more about you, especially if you have approached them online and not face-to-face. Your website should sell you and your services clearly and include a portfolio/examples of work you’ve already done or business you’ve worked with.
If you’re starting out with no previous clients or portfolio, your website will need more thought around how to ‘sell you’. You could do this by including a blog that features your expertise on your industry. People want to work with someone who knows what their doing and someone who is ahead of the game. Make sure you’re up to date with everything that’s going on in your line of work and make your website and social media posts reflect that.
As a consultant, its vital you use your time wisely, so when it comes to networking, be smart and selective with how you approach it. It’s not hard to find a local networking event these days but it’s important you choose the ones that are going to bring you the best results. Don’t waste time hanging around in breakfast meetings which are just full of other consultants like yourself. Instead, target high-level events with business owners and decision makers. Whilst these may cost more to attend, they’re more likely to result in some solid leads rather than just more business associates to add on LinkedIn.
If you already have clients, don’t spend too much time at events. Instead, pick one or two monthly events and then spend the rest of your time providing quality for the clients you already have.
If you don’t have any clients, you don’t have anything to lose in attending every event going – the more people you speak to, the more business you’ll win.
You can also attract new clients online with social media. You want potential prospects to think of you as the expert and authority in your field so spend time to share your knowledge and opinions on everything in your industry. Whilst it’s normal to share personal things on social media, many consultants make the mistake of going too far with sharing their non-business related views. Whilst your opinion is completely valid, keep it between your closest friends and family – especially when it comes to politics and religion. You don’t want to give potential clients any reason not to like you and avoid doing business with you.
When approaching new clients on social media, take the time the engage with them for a while first to build up a relationship. Don’t just connect with someone new and dive right in straight away and sell yourself to them. People hate cold calls and being bombarded in their inbox doesn’t go down well either.
Instead, comment on potential clients’ posts and re-share their content where appropriate. Make them aware of you but don’t over do it. After all, you want people to see you as the expert – not someone who is desperate for clients.
If you’ve got money you’re willing to spend to market yourself, consider social media ads to boost things like your Facebook page or promote your tweets and also PPC (pay per click) to advertise your services on search engines. Just because you’re a consultant doesn’t mean you can’t spend money to promote yourself like the companies with big marketing budgets do.
Start with a small budget first and play around with different methods to see what works. There are plenty of blogs and recourse sites out there to guide you like this one.
Good luck on your journey as a consultant!