3 Must-Haves for an Effective Consulting Lead Generation ProcessJun 03, 2022
I find that most independent consultants are missing at least one of the three must-haves in their independent consulting business development process if not all three.
I want to make sure you're not missing them too.
The three elements that most independent consultants miss are:
- Being CRYSTAL CLEAR on your business development metrics
- Keeping the business development process SIMPLE and
- Cultivating an effective business development MINDSET
Let's dive into each one of these, so you know what they are and how to implement them in your independent consulting business.
But first, why do these 3 business development essentials matter?
After you incorporate all three of these elements into your business development routine, you'll notice that:
- It's easier to be consistent so you generate a steady flow of fulfilling, higher-paying work
- You're evening out the all-too-common feast or famine cycles in your solo consulting business
- You feel so much more in control of your business results
1. Define Your Business Development Metrics – Begin With The End In Mind
The first step is to get crystal clear on your overall business development metrics.
What are the business development metrics?
Simply put, you need to either know the following numbers or make an educated hypothesis on what they are for each of your service types.
For example, if you have a business that includes Advisory Services, Strategy Work, and Delivery, that would be three separate formulas.
Ask and answer the following questions for each service type:
- How many of this type of client do I want this year?
- How many conversations does it typically take me to uncover a potential consulting opportunity? (examples of conversations - 1:1 networking calls, a “catch up” with someone in your network, speaking engagements, etc.)
- What is my close rate?
After you have these crucial numbers (or your best guess if you don’t have a lot of data yet), you can map out your lead generation activities in a chart similar to this:
Example business development metrics
When you break your business down in this way, you get very clear on exactly what you need to be doing to generate the # of leads that makes hitting your revenue goals inevitable, while also making sure you attract clients that need the exact type of work you love doing.
2. Make It Simple
Next, establish your business development routines.
For example, in the chart above, the goal for this solo consultant would create 11 conversations per month.
The independent consultant in this example started by identifying a variety of methods she could use to easily create these 11 conversations:
- Speaking (there would be more than 11 potential clients in that room, so she could do one of these a month)
- Reconnecting with former colleagues and acquaintances from her corporate life
- Meeting new people via LinkedIn and setting up virtual networking calls
- And so on
For you, think about the answers to these simple questions:
- Where does my ideal client congregate?
- Where does my ideal client spend time online?
- How do I most enjoy meeting new people?
- How do I most enjoy catching up and maintaining relationships?
It’s important to design a lead generation process that aligns with what you most enjoy, and that also aligns with your ideal client’s typical behaviors.
2 tips for implementing this second element:
TIP 1: I’m not saying you should expect to find a business development method that's comfortable for you. Most likely, business development isn’t one of your most advanced skills. You’ll most likely be uncomfortable in this process. That’s okay. That means you’re on track.
So, choose a method you do enjoy, or at least don't despise. But, don't expect it to be comfortable.
TIP 2: Don’t Fall Into The Consultant’s Trap of Overcomplicating It
You're a consultant. That means you're great at solving complicated problems.
You most likely love solving complicated problems.
The downside to this is that it's easy for you to overcomplicate things to make them feel more valuable to you.
Make sure you avoid this trap.
Choose a lead generation method to try out.
Notice that your brain will most likely think "it's not enough", "it won't work", "it should be harder."
Ignore that inner critic.
Commit to executing your lead generation process for 60 days, so you have results to evaluate and adjust as needed.
3. Cultivate An Effective Business Development Mindset
The final piece of your lead generation process is developing an effective business development mindset.
What is this?
An effective lead generation mindset is one where you
- believe ahead of time that you’ll achieve the results,
- acknowledge but don’t succumb to doubt,
- are willing to be uncomfortable,
- override the inner critic,
- overcome the second-guessing and
- are committed to achieving the outcome, even if it takes longer than estimated.
To cultivate this effective lead generation mindset,
- Start with a “thought audit”, which is essentially writing down your stream of consciousness about a specific topic (in this case the topic is lead generation).
- Through this process, uncover the main belief system standing in your way of executing an effective lead generation process (e.g. thinking “I’m not good at generating leads because I don’t like selling myself.”)
- Shift your thinking into a new business owner mindset. For example, you can choose to think on purpose (and find evidence) that “it’s possible I can learn the skills to create leads and sell my work with ease.” Notice that this feels so much lighter and do-able. Thinking this way makes it easier to maintain a consistent routine.
- When you choose to start thinking about yourself in this new way, on purpose, you’ll start seeing yourself as someone who is becoming confident and skilled at being a business owner who generates leads on demand.
Let’s pull all of this together for you. To establish an effective lead generation routine for your independent consulting business, you want to:
- Get clear on your business development metrics so you know exactly how many conversations lead to opportunities and how many opportunities become clients. The math makes this so simple and helps you avoid overcomplicating and wasting time in your lead generation process.
- Keep your routine simple by knowing exactly how many conversations you need to have each week to hit your goals, and by choosing methods that align to how you and your ideal clients like to engage.
- Avoid falling into the consultant’s trap of overcomplicating it. It’s so common for consultants to inadvertently create problems so they can solve them. Lead generation can be simple if you let it be. Keep your eye out for ways you’re overcomplicating, over-engineering and over-analyzing.
- Cultivate your business owner’s mindset. The less you think of yourself as someone who isn’t good at business development or lead generation or selling and the more you think of yourself as a business owner who’s fully capable of running a business, is the path to achieving your independent consulting business goals and beyond.
Put This Into Action
To put this information into action:
For more on lead generation:
- Listen to Episode 064 – The 3 Must-Haves for an Effective Consulting Lead Generation Routine from the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast
- Listen to Episode 023 – The 3 Consulting Lead Generation Mistakes That Create Underearning from the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast
- Download the Step-By-Step Routine to Fill Your Consulting Pipeline With Ideal Clients in 26 Minutes Per Day from the IC Toolkit on my website
Then, take the Independent Consulting Business Predictability Assessment I’ve created for you. It will help you pinpoint the areas of your business where you’re leaving money on the table, overlooking opportunities, and simply making owning a business harder than it needs to be. Click here to take the Assessment.
About the Author
Melisa Liberman is a fellow independent consultant who has 10 years of first-hand independent consulting business experience and pile of mistakes under her belt.
She's the publisher of the weekly newsletter "The Independent Consultant" on LinkedIn. Click here to subscribe.
As a business coach and strategist, Melisa works one-to-one with independent consultants to help them make more predictable revenue and have more impact, while working on their own terms.
For more resources from Melisa:
- Listen to the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business Podcast.
- Take Melisa’s (free) Independent Consulting Business Predictability Assessment to pinpoint your biggest area of opportunity and receive the next 2 to 3 steps you can take to advance your business with more confidence and ease.