If you’re a consultant or a small business, you’re familiar with the following scenario. You need sales so you spend time prospecting which inhibits your ability to deliver your service. When you’re focusing on delivering the service, you’re not prospecting. Once the current project ends, you need to switch gears and begin prospecting again – it’s a vicious cycle.
I put together the graph below to show the cycle.
This is true for any small businesses that sells their time as a product (accounting, legal, design agencies etc.) or any small business where the owner is responsible for delivering the service and is the chief salesperson. I struggle with as well.
So what is the solution to this problem?
I’ve come up with a few for you to consider.
(1) Increase the number of opportunities you generate without your direct influence
(2) Develop a sales process you can hand it off to another person and continue to scale
(3) Automate your service so you can deliver it at a much higher margin and free up your time
Solution #1 – Inbound Marketing
If you don’t know what inbound marketing is, you should find out and fast. Over the past 10 years there has been an incredible shift in how customers find the products and services. Due to the internet, the buyer is now in the driver’s seat. The internet (and Google in particular) has made it easy and painless for potential customers to research products and services. Your product is no different. Referrals are certainly alive and well, but if you hope to scale your business, you need to access prospects who don’t know you. At some point, the referrals will run dry.
There is not enough space to go into all the implications here, but if you expect to generate ANY leads leads from the internet (and in turn break out of the delivery – prospecting cycle), you must have an inbound marketing strategy. This strategy will take time to ramp up (you will NOT generate 100s or even 10s of leads a months overnight) so you need to start now.
Solution #2 – Sales Process
If you are the only one in your company who prospects and closes a deal, you are going to be stuck in the delivery – prospecting cycle. Your website could be generating a ton of leads, but if you’re the only one that can close them you’re still struck.
So what you do?
- Document your value proposition with scripts that allow another person to articulate what you do. Document the top 3 messages that you convey to each prospect.
- Map out your current sales process so another person could step in and be successful at at least one part of the process (again freeing up your time).
- Train someone else to do what you do. I know this is very scary for many small businesses since each lead is precious (see the point under marketing), but you need to start somewhere. There may even be someone are your team you could train now.
Use these messages to qualify your prospects. I’ve see some website contact forms that ask questions as a way of qualifying and setting expectations. You are saying, “This is the problem we solve, is that the problem you have”? This drives incredible alignment between you and your prospects and saves you time qualifying leads.
We are focused on helping small business consultants solve the following problems:
- Easily demonstrate the results and ROI of their consulting engagements
- Generate recurring revenue
- Help their clients execute on the strategies the consultant has designed
- Give them tools to allow them to track multiple engagements in one place
Enabling others in your organization to sell happens to be a big inflection points for many small businesses. This shift is essential for you to get off the hamster wheel you are on.
Solution #3 – Service Delivery
If you are the only person who can deliver your product or service, you can not get out of the prospect – delivery cycle. So what you do?
Move away from a project-based product to a recurring revenue product
One easy way to do this is to build in a 6-12 month monthly check-in. As a consultant you are hired to solve a problem. Layer in a monthly check-in to ensure your client stays on track. This is relatively simple to implement and deliver especially if you use a tool to help your client stay on track.
Use software to deliver and automate your engagements
- Of course we suggest you use our solution to deliver a more consistent customer experience and to get your customers focused on the right metrics, but there are other things you could do.
- Consider putting your customer on an automated email schedule to deliver reminders and assignments.
- Utilize task management software like Basecamp. Basecamp allows you to create templates and “to dos” within each template. You can invite your client to the template and assign tasks to them to complete.
Think through your consulting process and find improvements (similar to what you do for your clients). For example, you could have an onboarding template which allows you to request specific information from your clients and not have to re-invent the wheel each time.
Turn one of your offerings into a product
This is why we built Copilot. We were creating the same thing over and over again for each client using words docs and excel spreadsheets. We thought there must be a better way and created Copilot.
Maybe you’re a CFO consultant. How about creating a cash flow app that automatically creates a cash flow report for your customers? You could then sell them a monthly subscription to access the application.
Take a look at your processes and what you’re doing over and over again and create a product out of it.
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