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You want to expand your consulting practice by expanding your current client base. You may be stretching yourself thin but unless your consulting gigs are the type that take up 110% of your time every time out, then you usually want to make sure you have several streams of income going at once, and that you're constantly marketing to draw new prospects into your sales funnel. You need to cover yourself because no matter how good of a consultant you are, you'll still have the occasional cash-strapped client who waits till the 11th hour to bail on you. When they do, that leaves a big void that you can't possibly fill in time for your next month's planned income - unless you already have some sales prospects in your funnel who you may be able to convince to retain you now.
It happened to me this past month so it is certainly fresh in my mind... Here are three of my top hacks for converting those prospects to new business quickly:
Consulting 101 Series
Change your payment terms. If you are always asking for payment in advance, mix it up and offer a hesitant new client or a past client that you want to re-engage to signup for a 50/50 payment plan. By this I mean 50% up front and 50% at the end of the gig. It's highly likely that someone will bite. Especially when you're working with smaller organizations, you will find that paying in advance for the custom services you provide may be something they desire, but can't often afford. Meet them somewhere – meet them in the middle with this 50/50 plan. It will probably get you over the hump and get the deal closed.
Throw in two freebies. Add not one, but at least two free items or services of value that you can give them but won't kill you on cost or time. It will mean a lot to them and they won't know that it isn't that big of a sacrifice to you...they are only going to look at it from their perspective. It's likely that as you have been talking to this potential client you've heard some needs or some pain points that you could probably easily help them out on by just giving away a couple of add-on services or freebies that will really make your offer golden.
Give them more of the same, but for the same price. If you are giving them some kind of service for, say, a four week period...give them an extra week for the same four week price. That extra service period may very well seal the deal for them. Don't make it something that is going to push you over the edge and make it impossible for you to deliver quality service to them or to other clients, but if you can an extra week or five or ten extra hours of service in the contract without wearing yourself out or making the whole gig much less profitable, then to the right potential client that will mean more than % discount. It's all in the presentation.
Offer to “look at” something that is a need for them but may be outside of your normal services. You do 'x' and they need your services for 'x.' But they also need 'y'. If 'y' is something you know you can do but is not usually in your normal service offering, offer it and see if that seals the deal. Again, don't offer something you can't handle – the last thing you ever want to do is fail. But much of what I offer as a consultant has developed out of new client requests and I rely on those new client innovations to help expand my service offering...and it has worked well for me.
The key is to look for those things that you can offer that won't break your bank or put you over the edge in terms of commitment and effort, but will still mean a lot to these prospective clients and hopefully get them signed on as your newest client tomorrow. Win-win.
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