Consultant Marketing List Building

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You snooze, you lose.

Something got lost between the Rollodex, the CRM (Contact Relationship Management) software and the growth of the internet generations.

People seem to have become a lot more transactional. They have given up the power in the connectivity of relational networking.

Relational vs Transactional

I’ve been speaking and writing about networking as a business development tool since 1990. Early on, someone asked me what the best “style” of networking might be. Here’s how I replied in an Article called Pearl Diving:

“Network. Just don’t try to turn that contact into a contract on the spot. It won’t work. We’ve all met people that try that. They glide up to you like a shark, ask a question, talk through your response with a rapid fire commercial, tell you to call them and then they’re gone. In their view, they are networking. Those predatory types just don’t understand the difference between transactional and relational networking.

Transactional networkers want to score now. They are driven to pin down a prospect, get the job or close the deal. They have no time for anything else. They see networking as just one more form of manipulation. Leads groups that penalize members for failure to produce prospects fall into this category, as do the tactics employed by some multilevel marketing organizations.

There is a place for transactions, but it is never on a first meeting. And in most cases it will come much later in the sequence. Tit for Tat Transitional Networking does not scale. The best networkers understand that Networking is the establishment of a relationship.

Relational networkers aren’t interested in what you might be worth to them. They are always more curious about you as a person. They consistently ask how they can be of help to you rather than the other way around. They maintain the contact out of regard for you, not a need to cash in on the contact.”

The power of the list

I advise elite consultants on the marketing they need to build already successful businesses. All have a list of clients, prospects, referral sources, trusted advisors (for themselves and others) and other resources pending Trust evaluations.

The numbers on the lists vary and may be scattered across the world depending on the geographic scope of the consultant’s business. For instance, if you need to initiate a change in a government or multinational I can tell you who to call. That trusted resource is headquartered in Singapore. Need software to revolutionize the speed of managing your business? I can connect you with the president here in North America or the founder in Australia.

In most cases the extremely successful do not have huge lists. If you sell product on line you need to continually expand your list or you need to offer new products of value on a regular basis. But if your business is primarily one to one B2B your list may be relatively small. My current clients have combined lists of no more than 500. They continually add prospects and referral sources but the best apply one measure you should consider.

Meet them before classifying them.

You can add folks to your list in these ways:

  • Speaking—all those folks that want to talk after you step down from the platform and be added to your blog and/or newsletter list if they agree to that. Meet with them before you classify them as a prospect or referral source.
  • Networking—at industry events, again with their permission. Before you go past your blog and newsletter try to meet with them on a more personal basis.
  • Social Networking Connections—to include Linked In, FaceBook, BeBee and any other that provides a profile and allows you to connect with them. Before you start adding folks willy-nilly be sure you have a solid description of the demographics and psychographics of your target addition in mind. Again, get permission before you add them to your blog and/or newsletter list. I recommend that you limit your on-line list development primarily to prospects and that you count on it taking longer than you expected.
  • Introductions—either in person or on-line from referral sources or a relational networker. Always get their permission to put them on your blog and newsletter lists. If you think they are worth pursuing as a prospect, add them to that list. Could they be a referral source or a resource? You decide.
  • Face to Face—prospects introduced by referral sources should be added to the blog and newsletter list almost automatically. If you are meeting with them as a result of speaking or networking you will need to decide whether to put them in your prospect or referral source or resource list.

Keeping track of them

There is no question that the digital world has more efficiency than the old rollodex. The question is how much of that capability do you need?

Excel or other Spreadsheet programs are quite sufficient for some small or highly specialized organizations. That is good for maintaining the list. You’ll need to have calendar program as well to assure you can schedule follow up.

Manual CRM system sounds like an oxymoron but if you are really dealing with a small target number it can make sense. I designed a manual system for a client specializing in Gallium Arsenide chips that had a total of only 26 prospects. It worked. He sold his process and retired.

Digital CRM software can be added to your computer as a standalone or cloud based. Your practice or business size and the number of people that will require access to the data can significantly impact your choices. That, plus the capabilities of the software to deliver blogs or newsletters and other marketing materials, should be considered.

E-mail Programs like Constant Contact and Mail Chimp make it easy to build and e-mail your newsletter as well as keep track of your lists. One of my clients decided to forego a blog opting to send his guidance filled newsletter on weekends. Midweek he sends a mini-update including a new video. His opens average 25.3% on a list that is exclusively c-suite.

Automated Marketing? Yes, It can be done but do you need it? Do you need to trigger actions based on time elapsed or actions taken? Can you build out a funnel that will guide the prospect to a sale based on their situation? (That is a whole blog by itself)

Your list is the second most important part of your business.

The most important is you. If you are a solopreneur the knowledge you bring to the equation is why the business succeeds. If you are an entrepreneur working with a team, your ideas and processes are the intellectual property that makes the business possible. Whether you provide a product or service without your list you can’t make sales over time.

And so it goes.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

Consultant Marketing Billing Choices

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What’s your hourly rate?

Too often, when the choice is made by an entrepreneur to become a consultant, the decision to bill time for services is made with little or no thought. Prospects assume you will invoice them showing the time spent on each task you addresed.

An hourly rate is not the only option.

You are being paid for your:

  • Knowledge
  • Capability
  • Speed

You would not have been considered for the engagement if you didn’t have one or more of those as assessed by the client. You have what they don’t. You can do what an employee practiced in the art could do if only they had one. You offer a solution to a problem they have which they cannot solve on their own.

Your approach is part of the equation.

Availability is part of the value perceived by the prospect. There are experts in every arena but the more complex and esoteric the field the fewer are available with associated higher rates. The possible approaches range from done for the client to hands on tactical implementation to strategic advice to ongoing counsel.

Results factor in to what you can charge

Never forget that you are helping to sort out a problem and that the results you deliver, the ones you agreed to in your proposal, are how you are going to be judged. That’s why you should shift to value-based proposals as soon as possible using the prospects valuation of the work you propose to do.

Options to consider

  1. Hourly rates Tried and True. Doesn’t have to be explained other than a justification for the rate. When I speak it translates to an hourly rate of at least $7500. Do I charge that for consulting? No. But there are times I could.
  2. Fee for Task is a common way to provide a comparative rate linked to a specific task. Example: Agreement to build a basic web site consisting of a specific number of pages for a specific amount.
  3. Tactical Implementation Management Charge This is commonly used when a combination of coaching, training and oversight is required to get staff in an organization to adopt a new way of doing things. The consultant manages the process and can, to some extent, control the time to results.
  4. Retainer This can work for limited time engagements but is a marvelous way to extend a relationship. It allows a great deal of latitude in proposals and agreements and simplifies invoicing. The best part is that you can set it up to bill in advance.
  5. Commission on Results When you and a client agree on the results you are seeking in the proposal phase you can reach agreement on what part of the results you deliver will be your payment. If the result of your activities generates an additional $100,000 in income for the client, a commission of up to 30% is not untoward.

How do you decide?

First: Wrap your mind around the idea that you are an expert. Now build on that by maintaining your level of knowledge in your specialty. Monitor information online about it (set up Google Alerts). Attend industry conferences. Get involved with educating the industry. Never overlook applications of your industry knowledge in other industries. Over time migrate your expertise to the upper echelons of expertise in the industry,

Second: Never assume that there is only one way to get paid for your work. Think about combining one or more or the options above. Or take payment in another way. I negotiated an agreement once that included a stock award (for time at a specific rate) above a preset monthly contract. That stock was worth $4Million when the company went public.

Third: Simplify your agreements so that you can’t be held hostage by clients. This is why I recommend the retainer and use it as my primary choice. I still consider stock as partial payment in some cases. I will look at commissions on results but now I add a twist either requesting 50% in advance or placing the full commission in an escroll account. The 50% in advance is the easier sale and can be positioned in such a way that it is viewed as a standard engagement agreement based on a value-based proposal where the client generated the “results number.”

Overall stop operating on autopilot.

Look at all the options before you write that proposal and agreement. Be non-traditional but be sure you believe in what you are saying. Be prepared to alter your offer but veer away from collecting minute by minute accounting of what you are delivering. Be prepared to walk away if the prospect demands to be billed in any way that is not what you are proposing.

Make sense? Tell me your favorite compensation approach. If we don’t shake things up, who will?

And so it goes.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

Consultant Marketing Prospect Profile

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Take your revenue stream up a notch

Wouldn’t you be more comfortable if you had an ongoing revenue stream that let you:

  • Serve the kinds of clients you enjoy working with
  • Do the kinds of engagements that are satisfying
  • Have time to enjoy life a little more.

Over about 50 years consulting and coaching I’ve learned to improve your stats you need to do some sort of mundane stuff to make the shift. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Track your current engagement data (time, revenue and costs)You’ll find more at https://www.bebee.com/producer/@jerry-fletcher/consultant-marketing-eye-on-the-money
  2. Target prospects similar to your preferred clients
  3. Take action to be seen, heard, remembered and perceived as a trusted expert.

Yes, it is about the money

Periodically you need to review the time spent and the revenue generated by your activity. That means plotting your actual revenue against what it took to earn it. If you don’t track both, how are you going to know?

Look hard at the clients you like working with that pay their bills on time, provide referrals and you’d like to clone. Before you go charging off after new business be sure you have a complete profile of both the individual prospect and his/her company with a complete comparison to your preferred client/company profile.

The people assessment

This is a process that works for me and has proven to be effective with the elite consultants I work with on three continents. You’ll need a sheet of paper you can work on in landscape orientation. At the top write MY PROSPECT PICK’R. To set up your worksheet drop down a line or two and put in these column headings:

 Client Company      Primary Contact  Repeat?

Step 1.  Jot down your clients for the last 5 years, or if you are new to this, as long as you’ve been in business. Note the client company and the individual you worked with.

Step 2.  To the right of the names, if you’d like to work with them again (regardless of the reasons) write Yes. If not, just line them out but keep your record as we may need to analyze your reasons why and what it would take to put them in the “Yes” column.

Step 3.  Add some facts about your engagement(s) with the “Yes” clients. Specifically under these column headings: Engagement  Length Time Revenue Cost Outcome. The length is the number of weeks/months. Time is the actual time you’ve spent working on the project.

Revenue is the revenue generated by that engagement. Cost is your non-reimbursed expenses associated with that assignment. Outcome is a measurement of the shift in client performance.

Now your worksheet should look like this (with examples):

Step 4.  I have not included the extended data on those I marked “No” even though one was on retainer for $1000 a month in excess of 13 months and the other generated over $50,000 in six months as well as a stock position in the company.

The first was because the client just wouldn’t pull the trigger. The latter was because the venture capitalists proved to be pain where a pill won’t reach.

Now comes the hard part Even if you said “Yes” you need to look at time versus revenue less costs and calculate actual income. Sometimes you like a client so much you don’t charge them for all the time you’re spending. Sometimes the challenge is so fascinating that helping them resolve it is a huge psychological boost.

At the bottom of the worksheet you need to prepare three assessments:

Assessment 1. Client company

Look at size (employees, sales, revenue), industry (size and direction), longevity, management (strengths, weaknesses and intent), ownership. Be clear on where this company is in terms of its development. Is it a start up? Is it struggling to grow? Has the pace of growth caused problems?

Assessment 2. Client Contact

This is the person who hired you and you report to. The higher the level the better. Owner, President and CEO or COO are the titles that have the most clout. Note that in larger organizations Division Managers might be able to hire you. For each of the client contacts look at demographics and psychographics. Look for similarities. Underline them.

Assessment 3. The Ideal Prospect

What is it about those you designated with a “Yes” that caused that gut reaction? Write it down. Now look back at the revenue. Is there cause for you to reject or not chase a similar organization and contact because the income isn’t there? Should you look at your rates or how you charge clients to find a better way?

Can you define the prospect that could become your next ideal client now?

Here’s a word portrait of my ideal client (more at www.JerryFletcher.com):

Entrepreneurs and Singular Consultants
You’re one of the best at what you do but not enough people know that.
You know you need Consultant Marketing and a Brand but are not sure how to take yours up a notch. You know that to be successful you must be remembered. You’re looking for a way to build referrals and operating on a tight budget without a lot of time to put into your marketing. You’re tired of being told what to do and want help with the how.

And so it goes.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com