Dissatisfied with your small-time clients? Don’t know how to go after bigger fish?
I sat down with John Logar, business coach extraordinaire and owner of Consulting Unleashed, to dig into his system on how to position yourself to take on only highly targeted, highly motivated clients. He calls it the “Rapid Path to High Income”.
When you first start out as a consultant, small businesses are the easiest clients to pick up. They’re the most common kind of business and easy to get to… but they also tend to be the most needy and demanding.
Small businesses also tend to overestimate the work consultants can deliver on tiny budgets.
They have grand visions of exponential growth from single campaigns, and we all know it just doesn’t work like that.
But bigger companies (that can pay much more) need services too.
Wouldn’t you rather work with fewer clients and generate far more revenue?
If this is what you want, you have to charge what you’re worth.
Most consultants spend far too long undercharging, because they tie the value of their service to their self-worth and their perception of how ‘easy’ the work is.
The fastest way to get out of this trap is to keep increasing your prices incrementally on every project that you do. If you’re bold, double your price for the next project you do.
This sounds intimidating at first. But remember, the client doesn’t know what the price should be. They don’t understand the intricacies of the delivery. At the end of the day, they don’t want to learn and build all this stuff you do – they just want results and they want somebody to just come in and do it for them.
It’s usually the consultant that has problems with the pricing – not the client.
People end up playing the price game because they feel it’s the only thing they can compete on – otherwise they’re just like the next guy delivering the same service.
But you can’t compare one consultant to another. We’re talking about delivery on a project, not on a widget. We’re talking about the value of time and intellectual energy. Too many consultants mistakenly base their time in hourly increments they can bill. They don’t project value into their time.
But if you can change this mentality, you will make a lot more profit and have the flexibility to deliver more to a client because you’ve actually packaged that capacity into the project.
How to Increase Your Prices
Muster up the confidence to start increasing your price with each project by a percentage – maybe 20% if you’re especially cautious.
Your price will probably go up about 300% within three to four months before you hit your ceiling and clients start rejecting that price point. Then you know the true market value for your service in the industries you’re working with.
If you want to go beyond that ceiling, you need to change either who you’re targeting or more importantly, change your positioning.
When a prospective client rejects your price, they’re essentially telling you, “I don’t believe you have the authority and expertise to command that fee.” But then they may turn around and go right to a big name firm, only to pay them millions to do the same thing you were going to charge a couple hundred thousand for.
The good news is it’s not that difficult to build personal authority within the market. Building your authority within certain niches is actually one of the fastest things you can do. You only need to spend time in looking at where the niche hangs out and place your content there.
How to Get Much Bigger Clients
Most industries have big players (the multimillion dollar corporations), intermediate players (up to $10 million companies), and the low players ($100,000+). Most industries also have associations. Some industries have associations for their associations.
Now, once you’ve got this kind of momentum going, you’ll want to hook the biggest players in your niche industry. That said, it can be hard to get in front of the big players, so targeting the next level down – the companies that are itching to swipe some clients from the giants in their industry – will be your best bet for hitting it big.
Get Picky About Your Clients
Go for the award-winners. The up-and-comers. The people who are establishing unique markets within their industry.
Get on the association websites for your target niche industries to see what upcoming events you could attend. Look at the previous year’s events. Pages for past conferences often have a list of all the speakers, what they spoke about, what the trends were. By looking at who’s getting featured, you’ll get to see which companies are spending money in the industry.
Most exhibition trade show directories also list the names, addresses, and contact details of company CEOs who are attending. Yes – the email addresses of CEOs for hundreds of mid-level companies will be sitting in a free directory given to anyone who walks in the door to an exhibition.
Build a list so you can identify people very quickly. Identify them based on their authority within the community. Are they big companies? Are they award winners? Are they pushing for growth? Are they making significant inroads?
That’s the fastest way to find out who’s got the money. The next criteria is who’s spending the money.
If you’re in the marketing sphere, look for companies spending a lot on marketing. Find out who has the capital in their marketing budget so you can extract a nice revenue from that. If you’re in operations, find out who’s spending on operations. If you’re in talent acquisition, look at who’s hiring superstars.
Take your skillset and apply it to what these people need.
Go Straight To The Top
Don’t waste your time approaching VPs or division heads. They don’t make the decisions. Yes, it helps to have a personal introduction, or a champion inside the company to put in a good word, but you want to talk to the person who’s actually steering the ship.
The CEO should be the one introducing you to the appropriate manager – not the other way around. Command the leader’s attention and you’ll get the attention of the whole team.
This is only as intimidating as you make it.
Every CEO is a human being. Every CEO is worried about something in their company. If you can have communicate yourself intelligently and play to their ego a little bit, it’s not that difficult to get a conversation going.
You can walk yourself into a significant engagement just by building a relationship with the head of the company. Remember that they are human, just like you, and that you have as much value to offer them as they do to their customers.
Do Your Homework
The more real prospects you consistently talk to, the faster the revenue will come in. If you’re communicating only with your ideal clients, all you need is one or two conversations a day. You have to invest an hour or two to try to connect with, over phone or email. But this translates to 20-40 conversations with your ideal target clients in a month, and therefore have the potential for a couple of good deals every month.
Before you reach out, make sure you’ve done your research.
Check out the company’s website. Do they have a blog? Are they on Linkedin? Facebook? Do they Tweet? Invest a few hours in understanding
your prospective client. If you’re aiming to pick up an engagement for $100,000, it would be foolish not to do some due diligence.
Put in the effort and it will pay off in the long run. It gives you a much stronger understanding of their business, and allows you to speak specifically to their particular problems.
How To Make It Happen
Now, the thought of trying to hook big clients might make you want to run screaming in the other direction. You might think you’re the most introverted person out there, completely lacking in the confidence and ability to makes deals happen at this level.
You might be wondering how on earth other people muster the courage to make these kind of moves, what kind of magic they have in them to make it happen.
But it’s not magic. It’s not even a multi-step formula. The guys doing this are just like you.
The ability to rapidly increase your income boils down to one single thing.
You must have a crystal clear understanding of what you want to do, who you want to do it with, how you want to do it, and why you want to do it.
Clarity breeds focus. Focus breeds decisiveness. Decisiveness breeds action… and action leads to results.
Clarity allows you to ignore everything that doesn’t fit with your goals. It allows you to see the best opportunities and move on them uninhibited. It gives you the confidence you need to take big swings at those big deals.
So how do you get that kind of clarity? You start stripping away everything extraneous. How many hours you work? Forget it. What other people think? Forget it. How you’re going to scale? Forget it. None of those things matter until you know exactly what you’re doing and why.
Once you understand the very core of what you’re doing, you make it the only goal.
You make achieving it the single most important thing in your professional life and prioritize all your actions around it.
If something doesn’t move you closer to the goal, don’t do it. All the distractions and excuses get quickly stripped away, and you have no other option but start making progress.