What makes a consulting firm exceptional? Yes, tiramisu at lunch every Friday. And what else makes a consulting firm exceptional? Outstanding clients.
Selecting your clients carefully is essential for your consulting firm to grow and provide the rewards you’re looking for.
Working with terrific consulting clients sets the stage for cheerier days and a more lucrative practice. It also magnifies your ability to win additional excellent clients, because:
- Delighted clients rave about your services to other prospective consulting clients;
- Successful outcomes spawn killer case studies you can present to prospects;
- Exciting, fun partnerships perk up everyone in your group, and prospects are more likely to work with an upbeat firm.
Your consulting firm should have a Go/No-Go checklist and scoring rubric for consulting prospects.
Bust out your rubric when you’re actively identifying targets for your firm, when your relationship-nurturing activities reveal a consulting opportunity, and on those happy occasions when a consulting prospect appears out of the blue.
What goes on your Go/No-Go checklist? We’ve talked about prospects to avoid. How do you spot a first-rate consulting client?
10 Signs of a Great Consulting Client
Being able to enter into conversation with a prospect is the #1 attribute of your ideal consulting prospect.
Reachability is critical when you’re defining specific targets for your marketing.
Even when consulting prospects magically appear at your doorstep, ongoing, easy access to the decision-maker is a crucial ingredient for the consulting engagement to succeed.
Your best consulting clients exhibit a burning desire to make progress.
This manifests as quick decision-making and short timetables. For instance, you want a consulting prospect who sets the date for your follow-up conversation within days, rather than weeks.
Likely to Succeed
Stack the deck in your favor by accepting only consulting clients whose outcomes are likely to be favorable.
Compare past consulting projects that succeeded against any that yielded poor outcomes. What were the differences in your clients’ situations, behaviors, attitudes and approaches?
Use those differences to winnow out likely losers and select future winners.
Great consulting clients have large problems and the budget authority to solve them.
You’re not always looking for the highest-level people in the biggest companies. That said, the size of your prospect’s purse generally is a function of the size of the outcome they’re seeking and their position within their organization.
Clear on the Decision-Making Process
Ideally, your prospect has a single, well-defined decision-maker for your consulting project.
At the very least, the decision process and criteria should be unambiguous.
Not Run by Procurement
Your conversations should be directly with the individual who is struggling with the problem you solve or harboring the aspiration you achieve, not with a procurement manager.
RFPs are not hallmarks of a wonderful client.
Integrity is important in your consulting firm. It’s just as important in your clients.
Your anxiety is lessened and your workdays brighten when you trust your clients to stand by their decisions and pay you promptly.
This is particularly important if you enter into risk-sharing consulting contracts.
Similar to trustworthiness, candor is a prize attribute in consulting clients.
Your work is infinitely easier and more likely to succeed when your client is open and honest about their woes, their concerns, internal politics, past successes, and anything else that can affect the process.
By the way, candid clients also are quick to point out when they’re not happy with you or your firm’s work. That’s how you rapidly adjust, achieve success and improve your offering.
Sterling consulting prospects are obsessed with the value of achieving their outcome.
By definition, this means the cost of your consulting engagement is not driving their purchase decision, as long as you’re providing a solid return.
A few other, important attributes on my firm’s Go/No-Go list aren’t in this article (yet), because I want to hear from you too.
It’s time for you to build your Go/No-Go rubric if you don’t have one. What else do you think signals a good prospect for your consulting firm?