The Real Reason You’re Struggling to Find New Clients

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

Your expertise in organization development can help solve many of the problems that today’s leader cares about: improving culture, increasing engagement, high performing teams, diversity, succession planning, innovation, strategy development.

But when you try explaining what you do, they just don’t get it.

And to complicate it further, they’re not calling it organization development. In fact, they aren’t even familiar with the term.

If you’ve been selling your services for a while, I’m sure you’ve noticed that it has gotten tougher to get in front of prospects.

They just don’t want to talk to you.

Couple that with selling something as complex as organizational development where people don’t understand how what you do applies to their problems, and you can see why prospecting has become more difficult.

So, when you need more clients and your referral network runs out, what do you do?

  • Send out emails on Linkedin?
  • Write blogs?
  • Place ads?
  • Make cold calls?
  • Go to networking events?

All of these things used to work—but they’re extremely inefficient today.

Where most get it wrong

Getting new clients isn’t about explaining what you do and how you do it to as many people as you can.

It’s not about you. It’s about them.

It’s about helping them identify with a common problem that you solve, getting them engaged in a conversation, and asking the right questions where they make the determination that this is a problem they must solve—and you’re the one to help them.

But what most consultants do is:

  • They send out emails about them.
  • They write blogs about their services.
  • They talk about their services and don’t ask enough questions.
  • They talk about how many clients they’ve worked with.

And…crickets.

Most consultants are still selling like it’s 1999 where if they can just get them on the phone, give them a presentation, and explain what they do they’ll want to do business with you.

But they won’t.

The harsh reality is that no one cares about you and your business–not yet, at least.

They’ll care when they have a problem that must be solved and believe you’re the one to help them.

People buy differently today

Think about how you buy anything today—like a new television.

What’s the first thing you do?

If you’re like most, you search Google, or Amazon, or go directly to a retailer’s site like Best Buy.

But rarely to people go directly to the retailer and talk to a salesperson as the first step.

The same is true for business-to-business services. Buyers search online, read reviews, download articles, sign up for demos, watch videos on Youtube, and so on.

In the end, they still might buy that TV from Best Buy, but two things are different:

  1. When they go into the store, they are much more educated about the products and services that they’re looking for, and they only want to talk to a salesperson that is knowledgeable and can answer their questions.
  2. They bypass that process altogether by paying for it online and scheduling a pick up.

Because today’s buyer starts their search online, they are less willing to talk to a salesperson because they think they can find what they need on their own.

And they get into trouble.  But until they’re ready to engage with a salesperson, you’ll spin your wheels.

The bottom line is that if you’re not posting valuable content that helps them identify the solutions you offer to solving a problem that they have, you’ll miss opportunities.

The old ways of prospecting for clients are inefficient

Marketing has always viewed it’s job as getting the word out—branding, positioning, and building name recognition.

They did that through advertisements, brochures, websites, public relations, trade shows, and so on.

Based off of that brand recognition, good salespeople could fill their calendars with opportunities.

Therefore, most marketers start with tactics first. They develop social media campaigns, write blogs, place ads, beef up SEO, and more.

In effect, they put the cart before the horse, and they’re trying to engage with yesterday’s buyer.

Unfortunately, most sales and marketing professionals are still using tactics that worked 20 years ago and they are extremely inefficient today.

If you’re a consultant who is both delivering on services and selling at the same time, you don’t have that much time or resources—you want to talk to prospects ASAP.

How can you help?

Today’s consultant seller is more about helping than selling.

Because people are less tolerant of annoying sales tactics every day, today’s consultant seller is more about helping than selling.

It’s more like going to the doctor as opposed to a car dealership. Something’s wrong and they want it diagnosed and fixed.  

There’s definitely a better way to sell consultative services, and that’s by combining thought leadership content that complements a consultative sales methodology.

Replicating sales conversations digitally

As an individual or small company, you simply can’t do marketing like it’s 1999.

In fact, no one should be doing marketing like that, but that’s a different topic.

Any marketing you do has to produce leads and one-on-one sales conversations. It’s not about broadcasting your message to anyone that will listen and see what comes back.

Where marketing used to be a “one-to-many” strategy, it’s now “one-to-one” and meant to replace and supplement the singular sales conversations that we used to readily get by picking up the phone or going to a conference.

When you look at it that way, everything you communicate talks about solving their problems—in fact, you don’t even need to talk about what you do.

Done correctly, “the how” is not even discussed until a contract is signed and the money has been paid.

Sell the what, not the how.

The Smart Way to Sell

If you’ve been struggling to find new clients and don’t know where to begin or what to do next. It’s time to build a targeted strategy based on your available time and resources and learn the best practices in consultative selling for the 21st Century

That means getting organized about the problems you solve, use content to drive awareness, engage with them digitally (and in person), ask the right questions, prescribe the right solutions, get commitments and next steps, and close.

You do it by asking the right questions to help them realize that they have a problem that:

  1. Has a solution, and
  2. Is a problem worth solving

That’s the essence of how content marketing and consultative sales methodology works together.

That is good news for you as a consultant, because you’re already used to asking questions, diagnosing the root causes of problems, and prescribing solutions.

How great would it be to have people reaching out to you for advice as opposed to trying to “sell” all the time?

Need some help getting new clients? Click here.

Jason Myers

About Jason Myers

As the Editor-in-Chief of OD Innovator Magazine, Jason Myers is on a mission to help people transform their organizations into more innovative and collaborative environments. He co-developed a Crash Course in Collaborative Project Leadership to arm leaders with needed skills to drive innovation in any organization.

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