How do you get your first customers for a consulting business?

I've been talking about this with a friend and he asked me: How do you get your first customers for a cunsulting business? What do you think are the best ways?


Back when I started LinkedIn wasn't as huge as it is now. I wish it was. I didn't have a large network and those networking sessions NEVER brought me any clients. I used to go to all sorts of them hoping to get clients. There were a couple of nibbles here and there, but never anything serious. The only thing that helped was reaching out DIRECTLY to people in my target market. That meant cold calls and cold emails. I'd sell myself while thinking about their needs. Once I got a few bites I'd build good rapport by keeping in touch, asking questions, repeating back what they were saying so that they knew I was on the same page and kept my promises. If I said I'd call them back next Tuesday at 2:15 I'd do so. Eventually I built trust with them without having a network, or an insane amount of experience.

Oh and the most important thing about consulting is to LISTEN. When those first clients notice that you're truly listening and you're not selling the cookie cutter solutions everyone else is trying to sell them that's when you got them hooked. You start to understand their problems, fears, and see through their eyes and not just yours.

A network will help, but in the beginning just good 'ol salesmanship will get the ball rolling.

Answered 11 years ago

First of all CONSULTING not cunsulting.

Best way not to get a customer.

Sorry for the negativity, but that is a big no no.

Answered 9 years ago

Simple Answer: And this one is really simple. I have used literally dozens of times with great success.

Answer the help wanted ads in Monster and Indeed for all the jobs in your expertise. When you get an interview, show them how you could help them, but let them know that you would be more interested in doing this as a consultant for the company rather than an employee. Explain that they will get better results without having to provide benefits and even though you charge 5 - 10 more you are worth it.

I hope this helps.
Best of Luck,
PS I may assist you as my time permits. Right now I am doing something that I haven't done for many years. I am actively soliciting new select clients due to selling one of my businesses and freeing myself up a little. But as you might expect, I am still very busy. That is how I like it.

Answered 9 years ago

To get your first client for consulting business keep the following steps in mind.
1. Understand how to sell your services: When you start a small business, selling is certainly one of the most difficult tasks at hand. For some, selling wisely comes naturally, but for others it can be the most frustrating part of working as an independent consultant. Whether it is because we feel underqualified for the position or because we have simply never done it before, we still need to seal those deals and to do that we must sell. Qualifying is a critical step in the sales process, and it will save you a lot of hassle and headache as you deal with new clients, helping you reach independent success quicker and easier.
2. Research your industry: As you are starting your business, gain as much knowledge about your industry as you can so you are able to portray yourself as a professional and expert. You may be good at what you do, but are you “plugged in” to how independent consultants operate in your industry space? While you are considering the transition, gain as much knowledge about your industry as you can. Check, and contribute to, online forums and professional sites like LinkedIn. These sites are excellent places to share your expertise and network.
3. Build your network: Networking is the one of the most effective ways to land your first client. Ninety percent of all independent consultants find their first contract through their personal and extended network. This means making announcements that you are looking to work with those who know you, or in other words, networking not just pitching your services. When you meet someone for the first time, shake their hand, look them in the eye and introduce yourself, and give them time to introduce themselves. After that, ask what they do. At this point, you can separate yourself from everyone else in the room by asking them more specifically what they do. Use the information they provide to talk about what you do in context of their role.
4. Prepare Yourself: Before you can open the door to a deeper discussion, your client must first believe that you have the credentials and experience to meet their needs. To sell your first client, be prepared to speak to your experience, level of seniority, and specialized skill. It is important to realize that this phase may take place with or without you. For example, a former colleague may refer a potential client to you, providing them with your contact information. That prospective client might check out your LinkedIn profile before they ever call you.
5. Provide solutions: After you have opened the door, you will want your potential client to see that you are the problem-solver or expert specific to their gap or pain point. This requires putting your expertise to work by diagnosing and providing a framework for solutions. This phase of landing your first client can take place in several stages. You may have an initial meeting or two that allows you to conduct a needs assessment followed by a written proposal. How you diagnose the problem and approach providing a solution are integral to winning the business.
6. Create a pricing strategy: In this phase you will want to remove obstacles that may be preventing the client from taking that final step. As a new consultant this is where you may consider your pricing strategy. The client should feel that they are getting access to a valuable, specialized skill set and experience for an introductory rate. Be honest about being new to consulting and leverage that to secure your first deal. Let them know you want good references so are willing to do a special deal with them to get started.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 4 years ago

Usually, personal contacts. Those are the ones most likely to gamble on an unknown, which you are for your first customers.

If that won't work, then working with some kind of recruiting firm, doing a lot of legwork yourself with postings and/or networking opportunities are next up.

Answered 11 years ago

[5+ years experience in business development and sales strategy]

The best way to get your first client is, hands down, your own network. Assuming you're launching a consultancy in a domain of your expertise, exploit whatever contacts you already have from a previous endeavour / job.

As for finding your 2nd, 3rd... and 100th client, look into tools used by other consultancies. Depending on the field you're in and who you're selling to (unclear from your post) LinkedIn can be a great tool to identify potential clients and to find out where you can provide the most value.

When it comes down to how to approach clients and maximise the impact of your value proposition, you might find the books by Neil Rackham a valuable read (I would recommend "Major account sales strategy").

Feel free to schedule a call if you want to go more in-depth.

Answered 11 years ago

Just wrote a post on this! Ideas:

These all rely on building a NETWORK. As someone else mentioned in this thread, that's the most important part.

Answered 11 years ago

Thank you for your answer guys! I appreciate it! :)

Answered 11 years ago

Personal referrals. This post has some excellent videos and details in it about how to make yourself easy to recommend >>

Answered 11 years ago

Strategic alliances. When I first started my business, I connected with a business/personal development coach as well as PR firms. The business coach had clients who needed my social media marketing services at the time. And the PR firms had tons of clients coming to them for press and inquiring about social media. It was a value add for them to refer me to their clients. Depending upon the kind of consulting business you have, could you connect with accountants, lawyers and other professionals servicing them? That would be my reccommendaiton.

Answered 9 years ago

All the answers make an assumption not in evidence. Before you even think about starting a consulting business you must be laser focused on what business problems you solve and then have a crystal clear methodology to solve the problems. People want to buy from someone who knows their business but who also has a vision for how to solve the problem.

Why don't you post your value proposition and why people should engage you?

Answered 9 years ago

Well..I can tell you how we at Sudden Impact Web Design do it. We're a husband and wife, family-owned and operated digital marketing agency. We don't have a fortune to put into huge marketing efforts. But we do, however, have me (blush, blush), and I used to be a reporter and freelancer and learned to hustle at a young age.

One of the things we did when we first started was go online and print up a huge stack of postcards, coupons, business cards, and drive around to local area industrial parks, office parks, neighborhoods with shops in them; and simply go door to door introducing ourselves and giving out cards. No hard-sell or pressure, just casual, polite introductions and a card. Did most of the cards end up in the trash? Probably. But the cards that received calls back (to us) got the best service and best returns on investment they ever dreamt of. Those efforts got us referrals upon referrals. And when that well runs dry every once in a while, we can simply "wash and repeat."

Now, yes, a professional online presence that employs smart SEO, Google Analytics, Google Adwords, Facebook ads, regular blogging, active social media...all of that will get you more leads and referrals as well but nothing beats returns on time like physically going out and kissing babies and shaking hands, except giving presentations before large professional organizations.

Hope that helps. If you'd like more, just give me a ring. Good luck.

Answered 8 years ago

Hi - I just came across this and noticed you wrote this years ago, so I really hope your business is going well!! If you need inexpensive yet expert marketing, design or small business consulting services, please consider my agency, Bloominari. We’ve been helping small business owners like yourself for years and we’d love to help you out. I also provide free project estimates! Just wanted to send you this info in case your sales aren’t exactly as high as you were hoping. Let me know if I can help you in any way and best of luck to you!

Answered 8 years ago

Easiest way is to do pro-bono consulting work for Startups and small businesses and then use them as referrals. Another way is to brand yourself as a knowledgable professional through Linkedin pulse . It is working for me.

Answered 8 years ago

Consulting is a business that required domain expertise of the consultant. People will only consult you if you are more experienced and better in a particular interest or a subject area in comparison to the free options available.

You can start consulting the people you know for a 'pay if you like' model. In this model there shall be a box to drop the money that doesn't show how much money is dropped in the box. If people are satisfied with your consultancy, then they will drop in some money in the box. If you receive more money per person then you are going good, else keep on learning and always ask for the feedback without asking them to name themselves. This anonymous system will help you in understanding your worth, quality and will also help you making the process better day by day.

You may setup a call with me if you wish to learn in detail.

Thanks for reading.

Answered 7 years ago

Prove you're an expert.

Write a blog, post videos, publish a book, build some software, write a detailed report, interview other experts.

There are two challenges to getting customers:

1) Getting noticed and
2) Convincing people you can deliver

Doing the above is a good step to do both.

Answered 6 years ago

It is about whether one has a talent for this job. One has first to try unpaid activities, to your family and close circle of friends. If it works, try to enlarge your ground, until gets to paid activities.
If no talent for that, better go for engineering or management activities.
all the best

Answered 6 years ago

Getting your first clients in any business always seems to be a challenge. This question comes up time and time again with the startups I work with. Depending on the type of consulting business you friend is starting, they may be able to look at their own internal network, including friends and family. If they are working in a niche sector, I would suggest they approach any regulating bodies, chambers and forums that have an audience of the right type of client.
Getting your first few clients can take time and it can be frustrating. If you or your friend would like to book a call with to ask any question or talk about a strategy, feel free to. I'd love to hear more about this new venture.

Answered 5 years ago

A lot of people skip the very first step of FINDING people when they answer this question. Before you can offer free consultations, or ask for referrals, you need to find the right people, who have the right problem.

For this, you generally have to start with some manual marketing... search online (reddit, forums, blogs, etc) for questions that people may ask, pertaining to your consulting business' niche. From there, you insert yourself within the space, answer questions, offer solutions, offer your services, and in many cases, even directly reach out to online users that you think would benefit from your service.

Another way, if you have money to invest, is to pay for advertising. This can be as little as 1 dollar on a Facebook and/or Instagram ad, or as much millions of dollars for a tv advertisement.

There are many many many platforms out there for you to advertise on at varying prices. For a consulting business, cheap Facebook ads targeting businesses, locations, interests and behaviours of customers in your niche is a great way to go. You should have a Facebook & Instagram page for your business, so you can use FB's Lead Generation campaign oriented advertisements in the FB Business Manager to have interested impressions (people that are interested in your service after seeing your ad) input their information into a form, so that you can proactively follow up with email, by phone, etc.

In conclusion, manual marketing, and sensible advertising at a budget you can afford. It sounds simple, but there are many different ways you can do this for different industries and niches.

Answered 4 years ago

First they have to know who you are. Next, like you. After that - trust you. These have to be in place before they do business with.

Answered 4 years ago

First of all remember that as a consultant the key is to be well researched about your niche and well researched about your market. Utilise the power of linkedin. Have an amazing website with awesome content and data capture form, use Quora and other question and answer forums, answer questions and consistently post a link to your website. The more traffic you have. The more leads the better. Have an appointment setter service. Have a calendar app to schedule in and set up your appointments, be ready to give your best service and follow up. Follow up consistently. You want to not make the mistakes I made early on which was not following up, the money is in the follow up. It's not a firm yes for your services on the first call.
Keep posting good content, informative content, content thats resourceful, but don't give them all the answers, you need to make them really thirsty then come to you for water. Its like forcing someone to play in sand all day and saying nope sorry all the other houses are lovely, but my house is the only one with running water. Put ads out on social media, Facebook,twitter,linkedin, Instagram, YouTube,tiktok,and the others, advertise in groups, send private messages. Also send a video message. Video messages get more engagement.Give out flyers, and brochures, Do presentations,do speaking events, speak at webinars, podcasts,tutorials,e conferences,write an e book, or a mini chapbook out as a promo service. Get people to subscribe to your newsletter or magazine and through that offer consultation or share your services with a freelance Magazine.

Answered 2 years ago

Getting your first customers for a consulting business is a crucial step, and there are several effective ways to kickstart your journey. Here are some strategies to consider:

Networking: Leverage your professional and personal networks. Attend industry events, connect with colleagues, and let people know about your consulting services. Personal connections can often lead to valuable opportunities.

Online Presence: Establish a strong online presence through a professional website and active participation in relevant social media platforms. Showcase your expertise, share case studies, and highlight the value you bring to clients.

Content Marketing: Create valuable content that demonstrates your knowledge and expertise. Blog posts, whitepapers, or video tutorials can help position you as an authority in your consulting niche. Share this content on your website and social media channels.

Offer Free Consultations: Provide free initial consultations to potential clients. This not only gives them a taste of your services but also allows you to showcase how you can address their specific needs.

Utilize Freelance Platforms: Join freelancing platforms where businesses often seek consultants. It can be a good way to secure initial projects, gain experience, and build a portfolio.

Collaborate with Other Professionals: Partner with professionals or businesses in related fields. Collaborative efforts can expand your reach and introduce your consulting services to a broader audience.

Word of Mouth: Encourage satisfied clients to spread the word about your services. Positive recommendations can significantly influence potential clients' decisions.

Cold Outreach: Identify potential clients and reach out to them directly. Craft personalized messages that highlight how your consulting services can address their specific challenges.

To further assist you in establishing a successful consulting business, you might find the services offered by Cleveroad's IT Consulting team beneficial. Check out their IT consulting services here:

Remember, building a client base takes time and persistence. Combine these strategies, adapt them to your specific consulting niche, and stay focused on delivering excellent value to your clients.

Best of luck with your consulting venture!

Answered 7 months ago

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