6 Things You Must Do In Order to Close a New Client

by Lauren Schneidewind on December 10, 2015

As consultants we can get bogged down with the day to day and become a bit laser focused on being the best at what we do. I mean, we are consultants; we are hired because we are the experts. If you are like most of us, we can fall into a trap and focus too much on why we are awesome rather than what the client really needs. Recently, we changed gears a bit and were looking to hire some outside help and wow, it was such an eye opener being on the other side. I was honestly a bit shocked by what I was seeing, which then made me immediately think about myself (which consultant tend to do). Are we making our potential clients feel the way I am feeling??? So, as the consultants we are, I put together a list of items that frustrated me the most and will be promptly addressing them to our internal team to ensure we do not do these 6 common mistakes.

Be Consistent

This one is pretty darn straight forward, but the urge to maybe stretch the truth to fit what we believe the client wants to hear can be hard to fight. One of the items that frustrated me the most was having initial conversations with outside consultants were discrepancies with their pricing as well as their skill sets. The bottom line is I knew what I wanted and if it wasn’t you, that’s ok, it’s not personal, it is just business. As the saying goes, “Time is money,” so wasting my time by stretching what you do doesn’t help anyone, it just wastes everyone’s time. Most recently I was talking with some outside consultants and it seemed the sales person wanted to make the deal, so they gave me some pricing that was in line with what I wanted to spend. The deal continues for several weeks, I am thinking things are great until I see the final quote, which was triple what was expected and about 5 times higher than industry standard for what I was asking for. Thus, the project was dead in the water, we each wasted nearly 10 hours of time, which could have been all prevented with some consistency.

Say What You Mean, And Mean What You Say

This brings me to the next point, that goes along with consistency, which is simply saying what you mean and meaning what you say. This one isn’t rocket science either, yet seems to get lost in the urge of landing new clients, we have the tendency to say whatever we need to say to get them to sign on that dotted line. This is a recipe for disaster. We as experts in our respective field we need to be upfront and honest about our skill sets and core competencies; we are not hired for things we are average at. That unfortunately means we are not always going to be the right fit for the client, but that is ok. I have heard in many Entrepreneur Organization (EO) forums about how 20% of the clients account for 80% of their issues. Maybe we can change that if we are straightforward with our clients (and our clients are straight forward with us). We also have the ability to make the call that all clients are not a great fit for us either.

Listen To The Client

Hey, hey, look what’s next on the list, communication. This word seems to keep coming up on nearly every advice blog I read, so lets for the sake of argument agree that it is important. Going back to being on the other side of the table and being the “client” I realized, no one was really listening to me. They all seemed to nod and agree, then couldn’t wait to tell me about them and how great they are and why I need to hire them. Well consultants, as the client I want the conversion to be about me, not you. (It’s a nice change of pace, so I am going to eat it up while I can). So, when I switch back to my consultant roll, I am going to sit back and truly listen AND hear what my clients are saying. I am going to be engaged in them and try to understand their needs.

Make It About The Client

When we are gung-ho about landing a new client, as sales people we need to hold back our urge to talk about how great we are, even though, come on, we are the best out there, right? There is a time and a place to promote ourselves, but let the client learn on their own how awesome we are by exceling at what we do rather than trying to drill it in their heads during the proposal stage. This is the time to have the priority on the client and focus on what they are saying. There is a part of all of us that likes to have the attention on us, so lets make our client feel good and make it all about them.

Do What You Say You Are Going To Do

One of my first red flags when meeting anyone, whether they are a potential employee, consultant and even my own client is whether or not they have the ability to follow through with what they say they are going to do. I do understand things come up, but if you tell me to expect something Friday, then make sure I get it by Friday. A speaker at EO once said, “always under promise and over deliver.” He continued and said, “If you can’t do that, you have no place on our team.” This might be a bit extreme, but I agree whole-heartedly with this sentiment. I have even passed on potential employees because they do not follow through when they tell me they will. I realize this could be seen as trivial, but it starts the relationship off on the wrong foot and honestly, if you are going to mess up with a potential employer after the first time you meet with them, well they are going to probably cause a lot more issues down the road.

Let Me (The Client) Be Lazy

We are all busy; which might be the reason your lead or future client is talking to you. We have something to offer them, whether that is our expertise on something, or they simply need help doing something. Do it for them so well, the client begins to depend on you. Then we can organically grow that relationship. I know one of my biggest struggles with delegating, is not letting go of something, rather it is maintaining my standard on how something should be finished. I constantly struggle with finding individuals to help me out on daily tasks, but as soon as I find someone that builds trust with me, I will gladly increase the amount I depend on them.

Overall, these 6 things are really nothing we don't already know, but sometimes we just need go back to the basics and refresh our thinking. It is easy to get tunnel vision and focus too much on the end game rather than what is best for the client.

What are the most important items you have for landing a client? Dislike the ones I chose, let me know. Let’s start a conversation!

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