Why Your Consultancy Isn’t Attracting Qualified Clients

Last updated on February 28, 2017
by Saïd

Do you know why your consultancy isn’t attracting qualified clients? How can it be? Your website is mobile-friendly, modern, slick, with carrousel sliders, social sharing buttons and an awesome portfolio of past clients. You probably have all the content that speaks highly of your work, but it doesn’t guide your visitor of how it can address the obstacles they need your help with.

I’ve seen several consultants, even outside design, such as writers, illustrators, lawyers, trainers, and IT specialists with a steady stream of high quality clients while their technically more proficient competition is left behind wondering why nobody likes their latest plugin. It isn’t so much what you say, but how you say it. These premium consultants have tapped into a funnel process that filters out their leads to attract the most ideal clients and projects to work with.

It’s something I’ve also began to learn to develop for my own consultancy. What do you do when you get a prospective client come to you and ask for help on a problem where your expertise dominates? If you were like me straight out of college, you’d yap and yap about how qualified you are, what great technical skills you have, your impeccable background and show past work that back up those claims.

Your Website Needs Help

When your web traffic arrives to your home page, what do they see? Stock photos, product/service descriptions? Or do they have a clear call-to-action (CTA) over what you want them to do next? The biggest misuse of buttons we, as designers, see is that buttons are action elements and the copy doesn’t reflect that. Those call-to-action buttons should be exactly that, verbs. “Get Started, Try Us Out, Send, Submit, Enter, Learn More, Request a Demo, Buy Now…” these are clear instructions that we request of our users to take. Your landing page should have the essence of the product or service your brand is about. What is your bread and butter or special promotion? It should be clear within five seconds of the page having completely loaded.

Interview Clients for the Chance to Work with You

In the way that clients are asking you about your background trying to assess if you’re the right candidate for the job, you should be asking similar questions to see if they’re a client you want to work with. Trust me, stop lowering your price for what the competition does; stop offering discounts; stop devaluing yourself. Define what it is that you require from your client to create that vibrant working relationship where amazing collaborations take place and great work comes out of it. Before you refute my stance with “well, the customer is always right,” it isn’t so. You won’t have to resort to this justification if you have clearly defined your ideal client first. You want your client to have smart goals; to have the time to dedicate to the project; to have a team in place to delegate tasks for the action plan you’re going to propose; to have the passion for the milestones they want to achieve; and above all, to have the budget to invest into their business and make those realistic goals possible.

Develop a questionnaire of the information you need to get an accurate assessment of what resources are necessary to complete the project with tremendous success. If a client is too busy or refuses to fill out a questionnaire because it seems excessive, that’s not the client for you. This is the biggest red flag that this client will be more of a liability than an asset to your consultancy. They haven’t taken the time to really analyze their goals and seriously consider their own business and the respect to trust yours to carry out the vision.

Be upfront with your prospective client about what is the minimum budget your niche is in to avoid sticker shock and wasted time for both parties. What is the minimum you’re willing to work with to make it worth your while. Account for a balance of your interest in the project and a reasonable budget to keep your business afloat. If your client has champagne taste with beer money, that is to say, wants the bells & whistles but doesn’t have the budget, simply scale back to what you can accomplish with the resources they have. Break up the overall project into smaller milestones, phases. What are the nice-to-haves and what are the must-haves. What is necessary to help your client get to the next step. By the end of phase one, there should be measurable ROI that they can reinvest into the rest of the project and further elevate what you both set out to do.

This isn’t the fast and easy, but it’s a solid foundation for sending out a message to your audience that you’re as serious about your business as they are about theirs. Believe you me, I’ve had plenty of potential clients refute with “well, my friend’s high school’s son’s friend can do that for half your quote.” If they truly equated that sort of competition’s skill-set with yours, you wouldn’t even be having that discussion as that kid would’ve already been hired. Like any meaningful relationship, you must first value yourself before you allow anyone else to also believe in you and the value you can bring into their business.

By Saïd, your neighborhood ux hustler.

Saïd has seven years working with SaaS enterprise clients in political tech, the federal US government, interest groups, private firms, and startup community. He specializes in usability for web app interfaces and MVP launches. You can reach him at said@neostalgiadesign.com.

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