Brian Sullivan, Vice President of Global Accounts at Sandler Training, sees many consultants make the same mistake in prospecting for new clients.
“They’re too broad in terms of the people they try to sell to out of fear of missing an opportunity,” he says. But to build your consulting business, “you have to be more targeted – and that means doing a lot of research and prep work ahead of time.”
Brian recommends taking this three-step approach:
Say, for instance, you develop an IT product for a particular client with a large number of transactions, but you know it’s also well suited for other similar organizations. That’s your starting point when prospecting. You need to look at other industries and identify those that are also transaction intensive.
Next, look at businesses within those industries that are similar to the client you developed the product for. For example, if your client is a bank, then adjust your scope to cover financial planning firms, as well.
Once you’ve identified specific businesses you want to target, determine who your buyer is within each organization. So, in the example above, do you need to connect with the director of IT or the director of business operations?
According to Brian, you can be the best consultant around, but if you’re not targeting the right buyer in the right companies and industries, then you’re wasting your time. So while taking this kind of structured approach is a lot of work on the front end, it will increase the likelihood that your prospect will be a warm one.