- Combining inbound and outbound tactics help consulting firms generate quality leads that require lesser sales efforts to get closed.
- 36% of firms have created shorter sales cycles utilizing buyer personas, so defining your ICP is beneficial for winning deals.
- Implementing a sales qualification framework can help consulting businesses qualify leads and boost conversion possibilities.
- Adopting a value-based pricing strategy can maximize the effectiveness of your consulting services.
The consulting market has been valued at 160 billion dollars in the pre-pandemic world. But in the post-pandemic period, the value decreased to 132 billion.
This shows that people are looking to procure consulting services at lower costs with a paradigm of competition.
But let me be frank, with immense competition, just providing low-cost services won’t get you success.
To show clients that your business is the ideal solution for them and to drive more revenue, you need a solid sales strategy for your consulting firm.
And here’s everything you need to win!
- Sales strategy for your consulting business – 6 Simple steps
- Step 1: Define your ICP (ideal customer profile)
- Step 2: Figure out which sales approach you want to take
- Step 3: Conduct a deeper assessment of the leads
- Step 4: Use the best pricing strategies for your consulting services
- Step 5: Provide a tailored proposal
- Step 6: Envision your sales process in a pipeline
- 12 Consulting sales tips to skyrocket your sales
- Frequently asked questions
Sales strategy for your consulting business – 6 Simple steps
Step 1: Define your ICP (ideal customer profile)
A well-defined ICP can benefit any sales team regardless of the industry in which they work.
Marketing Insider Group shows 36% of companies have experienced shorter sales cycles using buyer personas.
After all, that’s why you’re here, isn’t it – To shorten your sales cycles and acquire new clients!
Here are a few actionable steps you can take to define your ICP.
- Analyze past client & project data
Review previous projects and see which have benefitted your business and which haven’t. Then, ask yourself the following questions:
- What were your highest-paying projects?
- How much profit were you able to gain from it?
- What were the other parameters that suited your business?
- Was it related to profit or business size?
- What did you like the most about your projects – the size of the project or the type of industry?
- Were you satisfied with the initial budget proposed by your client?
Analyze your thoughts on this, then decide how to proceed.
- Conduct a thorough market research
You need to combine primary and secondary research to gain key insights into market demands and trends.
Primary research includes a lot of work, where you need to interview many people and then analyze the results.
Secondary research requires third-party resources like reports, whitepapers, and news articles. Below are some great sources that will help you conduct data-driven research.
Some of these online resources provide a freemium subscription model, where part of the report is free, and the rest is paid. But the investment is worth it, as thorough market research is the foundation of every strategy.
Consider performing a competitor analysis to identify opportunities your competitors are fulfilling or missing out on to their clients.
Here are some frameworks you can use.
SWOT analysis, Porter’s five forces, strategic group analysis, perceptual mapping, business model canvas, and customer journey map.
Read more: Competitor analysis frameworks
- Create your buyer personas
A buyer persona describes your ideal customer, their needs, and who they are.
Buyer personas will give you a peek into your customer’s shoes, which will help you apply your customers’ insights to your sales efforts.
These insights will also give you an idea of what your customer wants in a product/service like yours.
You also have to select an industry before considering various parameters of a buyer persona as it varies by industry.
So, when you’re targeting more than one industry, you’ll have to define a buyer persona for each sector.
For example, you’re an IT consultant seeking cloud computing solutions. Here’s what the buyer persona can look like:
- Use data to create or refine your ICP
You need to analyze your past projects to determine if you’d like to continue working on similar projects or want to explore something new.
Moreover, depending on your interests or business needs, the kinds of projects that you’re working on may change.
In that case, you must refine your ICP and modify certain parameters.
Here are some additional parameters you can consider while refining your ICP.
- Client type: B2B or B2C or C2B
- Industry type: Manufacturing, logistics, market research, real estate, telecommunications, information technology, etc.
- Suitable pricing model: Value-based pricing, project-based, etc.
- Company size: 100-250 or 250+ employees
- Services: List services you can provide, can’t provide, or consider providing in the future.
Step 2: Figure out which sales approach you want to take
To close deals successfully, you need leads in the first place. And to generate those leads, you can either follow the inbound or the outbound sales approach.
Let’s learn each of them in detail.
1. Inbound sales approach
Inbound sales include activities focusing on attracting potential clients by creating and promoting relevant content that is helpful for them.
Marketing strategies are an integral part of the inbound sales approach. This aims to attract potential clients to your website through valuable content resources and generate leads with Web Forms, Chatbots/Live Chat systems.
The key activities for the inbound sales approach involve…
- Creating valuable content resources to attract the ideal client.
For consultants, content resources like eBooks, blogs, social media post content, and webinars addressing prospects’ challenges and pain points are good efforts under inbound.
- Build trust and authority in their industry or niche.
Consulting businesses can do it by showcasing expertise with their thoughts and content and can come up with valuable insights. Moreover, presenting social proof like case studies, testimonials, etc., will help them gain their target audience’s trust.
- Lead generation efforts to get high-quality leads for the sales pipeline.
Tactics like free gated resources, email newsletters, and free consulting are great ways to attract and persuade potential clients to share their contact details for sales targeting.
- Prioritizing leads with lead scoring.
All the leads generated aren’t the same quality, so building a lead scoring model can help you determine the ideal consulting clients.
You can define the qualification criteria to score and prioritize leads for your business and then set the engine on autopilot, saving you a lot of time.
Here’s an example of automated lead scoring using Salesmate CRM.
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2. Outbound sales approach
The outbound sales approach is when your reach those potential customers who might not have interacted with your brand or expressed interest in your service. It includes:
Despite the misconception that cold calling is outdated, it is still one of the valuable methods for reaching key decision-makers in the B2B space.
Research shows that 57% of C-level executives prefer cold calls as their first point of contact, followed by directors 51% and managers 47%.
As a consultant, you must keep the following practices in mind.
- Conduct thorough research on the prospect’s organization before making the call.
- Tailor your pitch to address the prospect’s pain points and demonstrate value.
- Cultivate exceptional consulting skills like effective communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and more.
- Explore the cold-calling strategies to strengthen your efforts and generate more leads.
Cold emails are another great way consultants can use to enhance their outreach efforts.
But many consultants make the mistake of not following up consistently.
Statistics determine that following up with a prospect at least 4-5 times leads to a conversion.
Also, a study by Backlinko revealed that multiple follow-ups doubled the response rate. But following up alone won’t do consultants any good.
Here are some best practices for consultants when engaging in cold email outreach.
- Craft compelling subject lines and personalize messages to resonate with your recipients
- Provide valuable content or offers that grab your prospect’s attention
- Track email responses and engagement to refine your approach over time
These involve reaching out to prospects with whom your business has already established contact or a relationship.
With warm calling, you generally talk to people you’ve had prior contact with.
Depending on whether they opened their emails or social media message, they need to be made aware of your brand.
These leads are easier to nurture and convert later in the sales pipeline.
Social selling helps you connect and engage prospects on social media platforms to convince them to buy from you.
Choose a suitable platform for your business and build long-term relationships with prospects by sharing infographics and industry trends and commenting on posts.
Most businesses in the B2B space use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Your consultancy should utilize the same channels, as your ideal audience will most likely be active on these platforms.
Step 3: Conduct a deeper assessment of the leads
Without studying your leads, and analyzing their intention, prospecting, nurturing, and closing deals won’t be effective.
Aside from an objective-based approach, you’ll also need to dive down and ask a few subjective questions to assess their needs.
- Sales qualification questions
With the right qualifying questions, you determine if a lead is a good fit for a business opportunity.
Otherwise, your sales efforts would go down the drain.
To ensure conversions with the maximum amount of efficiency, you need to ask them the right questions that qualify the MQLs as SQLs.
SQLs (sales-qualified leads) are prospective clients qualified by marketing professionals based on their engagement responses and have shown some buying intent.
Qualifying the MQLs based on certain criteria like budget, needs, expectations, and goals will help you offer tailored solutions to convert.
- Sales qualification frameworks
Utilizing a sales qualification framework will ensure you have a better understanding of leads and the ability to identify a likely sale.
Following such a framework will save time, qualify leads more effectively, and boost your sales team’s productivity.
For example, suppose you’re a marketing consultant that wants to qualify your prospect for your services.
So, using the BANT framework, you can assess the viability of leads and prioritize the most likely to convert. Let’s see how.
Budget: You assess the prospect’s budget to determine if they can invest in your marketing services with questions like:
- What is your allocated budget for marketing initiatives?
- How much are you willing to invest in your campaigns?
- Are you open to discussing budget adjustments based on our proposed strategies?
Authority: You will be able to identify the decision maker in the organization with the following qualifying questions:
- Who is the decision maker for marketing initiatives in your organization?
- Are there any other people involved in the decision-making?
- How can I connect with the person responsible for approving your marketing decisions?
Need: Now discover the prospect’s needs that will help you tailor your solutions so qualify with questions like:
- What are your current marketing goals and objectives?
- What challenges/pain points are you experiencing in your marketing efforts?
- How do you envision our services helping you achieve those objectives?
Timeline: Determine your prospect’s timeline to discover the urgency of your solution. So, find by asking relevant questions like:
- Do you have any specific deadlines or time constraints?
- When are you planning to initiate your marketing campaigns?
- Are there any upcoming events or product launches requiring immediate marketing attention?
These questions will also help you assess whether a potential client is willing to acquire your services. This is just one of the many popular frameworks that you can use.
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Step 4: Use the best pricing strategies for your consulting services
An effective pricing strategy can help attain high perceived value, improve your market positioning, and ensure profitability.
It also helps enhance your image as a professional and creates a perception of expertise. You can set prices per changing market factors such as demand and competition.
Here’s a sum up of the benefits of using a pricing strategy.
Want to learn how to set the right consulting pricing strategy for your services? Read our all-inclusive guide on consulting pricing strategies.
Step 5: Provide a tailored proposal
When you’ve analyzed the factors regarding a business deal, you’ll have to pitch a business proposal based on those factors.
You don’t need to create multiple proposals for the same client. You just need one tailored to their needs and explain how you’re the best and most affordable solution provider.
You need to create a solid proposal to ensure that clients respond to it quickly and don’t drop out at the last minute.
But before we get into the tips of presenting the proposal, here’s a checklist of things to remember.
- Checklist before sending a business proposal
1. Both your SDR and client have engaged in a sales conversation
2. They’ve agreed to get your help to solve their problem
3. Ask the client for an appropriate time to send your proposal
4. Ask questions if they’ve said ‘no’ and try to convince them
5. Wait for a verbal agreement to send your proposal
Sending a proposal without prior permission will annoy them and cause them to bail out from the deal.
- What makes a winning proposal?
Let’s look at some do’s and don’ts to include in your business proposal.
1. Don’t make it about your business
If the client has already given the go for your business agreement, there’s no need to talk about your company in the proposal.
Talk about the challenge they face and the solution you will provide. Do it in light of your most recent conversation. That’s it!
Remember, it’s about the client and their business; don’t make it about yours.
2. Keep it short and simple
Your proposal should not be more than 2-3 pages; otherwise, you’ll make it harder for your prospects to read through the entire document.
Adding additional pages or content will confuse them and turn them off. Make sure you only include relevant information that is of use to the client currently.
It would be best if you got your proposal signed in the shortest time possible.
3. Use numbers on the front page
Providing a forecasted ROI value on the front page is a great way to compel clients to sign the deal quickly.
It shows your confidence in your ability to help your company achieve that desired ROI. And that return-on-investment calculation will surely excite them to sign the document.
It’s important to cut to the chase and only mention the specifics. Don’t mind including the service price on the front page as well. Your client will compare that to the ROI and swiftly decide to sign your proposal.
- What to do about an RFP?
An RFP is a request for a document from a client company that includes all the details about the project outlines, the client’s expectations, and all requirements.
Usually, government entities and public organizations do this to see who has the best proposal on the list.
Here’s a standard procure document of an RFP for consulting services by the World Bank.
If your consultancy has received an RFP and has been requested to submit a proposal, tailor your business proposal according to the scope of work expected from you.
You can suggest other consulting firms if the project does not fit your company’s objectives.
Even if they feel that the other proposals are not what they’re looking for, they can always switch back to you, and you can set the terms for a business agreement.
Step 6: Envision your sales process in a pipeline
You can best plan your entire strategy by analyzing your sales process, measuring KPIs, and then working to adjust and improve your sales performance.
Follow these 4 steps to implement, track, and optimize your strategy.
1. Implement your sales strategy
To execute your consulting sales strategy in the business, begin by communicating clearly with your team about their roles and responsibilities.
Establish streamlined processes for lead generation, qualification, communication, and deal closure with the support of a robust consulting CRM platform.
2. Track your key metrics
Define relevant sales KPIs that align with your goals, such as conversion rates, average deal size, client acquisition rates, average sales cycle length, etc.
Regularly monitor and analyze data related to your sales activities.
By doing so, you can gain deeper insights to optimize your sales strategy and make informed decisions that tend to achieve sales targets.
Be observant in identifying bottlenecks or challenges that may be impeding your progress.
3. Optimize your strategy for long-term success
Experiment with different approaches or tactics to identify what resonates best with your target audience.
Seek feedback from clients and prospects to understand their pain points, objections, and preferences.
Learn from both successful and unsuccessful sales engagements to identify patterns and improve your future efforts.
4. Iterate and adapt
The consulting business landscape is dynamic, so staying agile and adapting your sales strategy is crucial. Regularly review and update your strategy based on new insights and changing market conditions.
Consider all customer feedback and adjust your approach to meet evolving client expectations.
Develop multiple sales pipelines that align with your company’s sales cycle to visualize the sales process better and identify opportunities.
For example, here’s how an IT consulting sales pipeline looks like:
Each consultant will have different sales cycles.
So, ensure you tailor your pipeline to align with your organization’s sales cycle.
A CRM is a smart sales tool to streamline your entire sales process and boost sales. Here are the key features to ease your consulting sales efforts and improve your sales success rate.
Sales Cadences: You can automate follow-ups and engage prospects with emails and text message sequences.
Moreover, this ensures their communication reaches prospects timely, increasing engagement and response rates.
Sales Automation: You can save time and automate tedious tasks such as data entry, outreach email campaigns, follow-ups, and more.
You can define rules that automatically trigger actions based on specific activities or events, such as email, webhooks, or contact field modifications.
Also, you can automate interactions with website visitors, gather information, and answer customer queries using Chat Journeys.
Sales Analysis: You can track your sales goals and evaluate your success with smart sales intelligence.
With comprehensive reports and analytics, you can identify trends, spot areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions to optimize your sales strategy.
Seize opportunities, close deals, and drive profits!
Salesmate is your one-stop solution to generate leads, qualify and nurture them to win deals. Plus, gain actionable insights for informed decision-making.Explore Consulting CRM!
12 Consulting sales tips to skyrocket your sales
You can improve your chances of winning the deal if you adopt these tried and tested tips by experts. These mainly emphasize building better connections with prospective clients.
1. Adopt a consultative selling mindset
Pitch to solve rather than make a sale. As a consultant, winning the deal would be easier if you adopt the consultative selling approach.
Here, you try to understand your prospect’s problems and present unique solutions to help them overcome them.
They will automatically give you the project if they find your efforts relevant.
2. Try to be in touch with more than one person in an organization
People are always looking to upgrade when they get better opportunities.
So, it would be best to widen your circle of contact in an organization to increase your chance of serving them longer.
This way, if one of your contacts leaves your client’s organization, you’ve other reliable and trustworthy people.
3. Begin selling something small first
This is a winning tip to get a deal with a prospective client. If you’re new to the business or your client doesn’t know much about you, sell something small first.
This way, you can establish trust, giving you a great chance to show your high-value proposition. Then, later you can pitch complex services with good gross margins and easily win the deal.
4. Look for opportunities in disruptions
Consider disruptions in your prospective client’s organization as an opportunity. For instance, if you see a disruption like management change or emerging competition that your prospective client is facing, you can ask them to help you ease the disruption best with your tailored solutions.
So, always be alert to such disruptions to turn them into an opportunity for you.
5. Conduct and publish surveys on current topics
Sharing insights on hot current topics boosts your credibility as a consultant and positively impacts driving sales. So, try to consult surveys and research and leverage those results through content resources to generate inbound leads through gated content or media coverage, or more.
6. Productize your consulting services
Service productization is simply turning your services into a packaged solution with defined service values and pricing. This is a great tactic to scale for consultancies.
Moreover, this way, it becomes easier to communicate and sell, providing clients with a clear understanding of the true value of your consulting services.
7. Educate your clients first
Clients often lack confidence in judging your services, so they hesitate to try. To overcome such hurdles in your sales, you must educate them and demonstrate the benefits proposed.
Empowering your prospective clients with knowledge will help them to make better decisions, surely in your favor.
8. Present multiple options in your consulting proposal
You must try this if you are getting a client response, like, is there any other way to get results faster, or I have a limited budget, etc.
Giving 2 or more options in your consulting proposal can influence their decision to pick the best one that brings high value to them and good revenue to you.
See the below example of such an approach:
Basic service plan: $99/month (Best results with low investment)
- Tailored for clients with no budget constraints
- Promises exceptional results and maximum value
- Delivers outcomes in the shortest timeframe possible
- Represents the premium package for those seeking the highest level of service
Booster service plan: $149/month (Faster results with high value)
- Designed to help clients achieve their goals more quickly
- Offers substantial value, often surpassing Basic services without requiring additional time investment
- Provides an attractive balance between investment and outcomes
- Appeals to clients who prioritize efficient results within a reasonable budget
This is best for consultants that offer multiple services.
9. Automate your follow-up activities
Did you know that 80% of your sales are generated between the 4th and 12th contact? However, 92% of sales reps give up after 4th sales call, leading to no sales.
This shows that reps are losing sales opportunities due to poor follow-up strategies. To overcome this, they should plan a strategic follow-up strategy and automate their follow-ups.
You just need some highly relevant content princes and an automation platform to conduct meaningful follows that don’t seem too pushy and spammy.
For instance, you can share an insightful report based on your survey on a hot topic that your client surely be interested in knowing.
Follow-ups should be planning to show up to your clients timely, expressing your deep interest in solving their pain points and helping them to grow.
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10. Stay in touch with your existing clients
Make sure you maintain a good relationship with your clients and timely connect with them to ask if they are facing any trouble for which you may provide a solution.
Moreover, maintaining a good relationship with the clients you serve opens new doors of opportunities through referrals and repeat business.
11. Embrace fresh perspectives from other industries
This is necessary to avoid narrow-mindset and be an innovative professional. Try to connect with potential consultants that share a similar audience like yours, partner with them, and offer inclusive services to look more versatile as a consultant.
12. Read and explore to gather better ideas for your services
Outdated and common practices might lead to losing clients to competitors with innovative solutions. So, a consultant should consistently grow their knowledge to curate new ideas that will guide them to bring unique solutions for their client or contribute to their business growth.
Having a well-defined consulting sales strategy determines the success of your business.
It will allow you to stand out, get more clients for your consulting firm, and ultimately increase revenue and growth.
Ensure you continually reevaluate your consulting sales strategy and reiterate as the market landscape shifts and changes.
Many businesses look to sales consulting firms to help them achieve revenue goals, optimize their sales strategy, improve sales, and more.
The reason is that the sales consultants are well versed in guiding about the new ways of selling, optimizing sales process, and how to survive in the competitive market.
So, you can look up effective sales consulting services if you are facing any roadblocks to your sales success.
Moreover, advanced sales tools like CRM and automation can help you build strong customer relationships, saving time and improving decision-making to skyrocket your sales.
Frequently asked questions
How can consulting firms identify their ideal clients?
Consulting firms can identify and target their ideal clients by conducting market research to understand industry trends and needs and analyzing their existing client base.
What is the typical consulting sales cycle?
The sales cycle for a consulting business contains the following steps:
- Approach prospects
- Qualify leads
- Nurture leads
- Offer your solution
- Pitch a tailored business proposal
- Persuade during objections
- Close the deal
What is consultative selling?
Consultative selling is a unique approach sales reps take that focuses on delivering unique and tailored solutions to their prospects based on their challenges, desired goals, and needs.
How does a sales organization consulting firm help its clients?
A sales consulting firm helps its clients to improve their sales performance and achieve revenue goals. They provide expertise in sales strategy development and optimization. Moreover, they closely guide in areas like market research, sales performance measurement, technology implementation, and sales enablement.
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