28 Nov 28 Ways To Get More Consulting Clients [Updated For 2019]
Wondering how you can get more clients for your consulting (or freelance) business?
It doesn’t have to be a painful, frustrating process…
You just need to stop chasing “shiny objects” like funnels, chat bots, etc. And instead focus on proven client acquisition strategies.
Below I’ll show you 28 strategies you can use to get more clients along with which ones I think you should focus on first.
My Favorite Ways To Get More Clients (Group 1)
There are a lot of ways to get clients…
But instead of throwing all 28 at you, I’m going to recommend that you start with this group of ideas first.
Why? Simply put, they take less effort and time then the rest.
If you’re just starting out, these strategies will help you get more freelancing or consulting clients for your business faster than anything else.
1. Ask for referrals from people who know, like and trust you.
Without a doubt, you should start with your personal connections. Rest assured you’re not going to be pitching your family and friends though…
You’re more interested in figuring out if they can introduce you to potential clients. This works extremely well because the “know, like, trust” factor is transferred to you from the person who is referring you.
It’s important that you don’t just kick back and wait for referrals to starting coming in. You need to be proactive about asking for referrals. This is something we talk about in detail on day #3 of my free course.
2. Reach out to past and current clients.
If you’ve already delivered value to a current or past client, they can act as a powerful source of referrals. Depending on the relationship you have with the client, you might be able to ask for referrals even sooner in the relationship.
You’re going to need to take initiative and ask at the right time to increase your chances of success.
In my opinion, client referrals the are the best kind because it’s not about doing you a favor, it’s all about business and results and the people who you’re referred probably want you to do the same thing you’re already doing for the person who referred them.
3. Implement a “win-win” referral program to incentivize people.
If you want to super-charge the number of referrals you get, create some kind of simple program that offers ANYONE who refers you business a flat fee or percentage of your fee. For example, $1,000 for each client referred or 20% of the entire deal.
Example referral landing page.
Another interesting way to do this with your clients is to offer them a discount of their monthly fees.
For example, a client gets $250 off every month as long as the person they referred stays a client.
4. Create strategic partnerships with people who need help serving their clients.
This is one of the easiest ways to get new clients but it also take a little bit of time to find and create the right relationships… (In fact, I did an entire training video on this inside the Laptop Empire Lab.)
The idea is that you find agencies (or people) who one: have an overflow of clients they need serviced, or two: they have clients who need a service they can’t provide.
For example, if you want to sell small businesses social media marketing services, find a web design business who has a bunch of clients they’ve built websites for, but don’t offer social media as a service. They could refer you a ton of people with new websites eager to promote it.
5. LinkedIn outreach.
I am obsessed with LinkedIn… It’s arguably the single most powerful business tool created in the last decade. You can connect with your target audience at scale and even automate the process.
Here’s my process:
- Singular positioning: Make sure you’re clearly speaking to one audience, outcome and vehicle.
- Messaging optimizations: Make sure your profile and outreach scripts are on point and that they attract ideal clients and repel the bad ones.
- Conversational scaling: Automate outreach so you’re only having to speak with people after they respond.
- Nurture systems: Creating followup systems to nurture lead, make sure opportunities aren’t slipping through the cracks and identifying bottlenecks in your outreach / sales process.
Want to learn more? Click here to check out my “OPEN Technique” PDF that will walk you through the process. (You need to be a member of the Facebook group to see it! Simply request to join and I’ll let you in!)
6. Answer questions and network in Facebook groups.
Building on top of the last idea, you can join Facebook groups with people who have clients and need help servicing them (both newbies and experienced people) and some business owners who are straight up asking for help and feedback.
An example of someone seeking help in a Facebook group.
Be warned though, people typically jump on these fast and if you’re not contributing value to the conversation and acting quickly, chances are you’ll get overlooked.
7. Connect face-to-face at local business groups like the BNI.
One of my personal favorite ways to quickly meet and connect with business owners is at local business groups and events.
Your local chamber of commerce is the most obvious but if you go to Meetup.com and checkout the upcoming business events, you’ll find a lot of interesting opportunities.
There are endless opportunities to meet people on Meetup.
Remember like anywhere on or offline, you need to contribute value by asking other people questions and giving them solid advice when they ask. If you go in trying to pitch everyone, you’ll loose their attention and respect quickly.
Similar to referrals, it’s not always selling the people you first meet, befriend them and figure out who they know so you can get introduced.
8. Create case studies that showcase your work.
Case studies are by far one of the best ways to get new clients. But you can’t just create one and hope people see it… You need to be sharing it with people.
Don’t have any clients? Do a case study on your own work. From SEO to social media to design, there’s plenty you can be doing for yourself that show other people you practice what you preach and can get results.
One of the case studies on my website.
9. Work with well-connected clients like influencers.
When you’re getting your first clients, this likely won’t be where you start. But over time you can work your way up in an industry until you’re connected with the “big fish” in the industry.
This gives you incredible leverage because their introduction carries a lot of weight.
I’ve even take on small projects for free just to work side-by-side with an influencer that I knew would benefit me long-term.
10. Get published in niche magazine to gain instant credibility.
It might surprise you, but getting published in niche magazines and publications is easier than you think. You simply need to find an editor or writer with overlapping interests and reach out.
In the first email simply compliment their writing and highlight the topic you both have in common.
When they respond, say you’d love to contribute and add some value to their publication if they ever need some content.
Article I wrote for Casual Living Magazine.
They ALWAYS need fresh content and in most cases will oblige. I turned a short 5-minute phone interview where they quoted me into a full blown article in their magazine.
11. Followup on all your opportunities.
You need to stay on top of all your opportunities because as you grow and meet new people, it’s easy to let things slip through the cracks.
I recommend finding a free tool like Trello to organize leads, names, contact info, followup dates and conversations so you can see who you should be following up with at any given time.
I use Trello to track all my leads.
It’s also important that you schedule time on your calendar for sales followups at least every other week so you start to make selling a habit.
More Smart Ways To Get Clients (Group 2)
Now don’t get me wrong… Just because the strategies listed below weren’t in the top 10 doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your attention.
In fact, some of these strategies are the most effective ways you can generate new leads, but they take a little more time and thought to implement.
So once you’ve got a solid foundation of clients using the strategies above, you can start testing these ones…
12. Create content that answers questions and addresses objections.
Personally, I love creating content. Maybe it’s a habit at this point but it makes things easy when you learn to love the process!
So even if you don’t get amped up to create content like me, at the very least you should create some kind of video sales letter or FAQ page. This type of content helps qualify people to your service and makes it easier for them to decide if it’s right for them.
Ideally you take that content and expand on it in the form of regular blog posts, videos, podcasts, or whatever format you’re comfortable with.
This single article/infographic has helped me close multiple deals.
Like a website, content establishes you as an expert and builds relationships with people before they ever work with you.
13. Establish content partnerships with people who have the audience you want.
When you can find people and brands who have the attention of the people you’re trying to serve, promoting through them is one of the easiest ways to get in front of that audience.
Now obviously most people won’t just promote you to their email list.
BUT… If you’re coming from a place of value and ask to host or share some kind of training, they are far more likely to share.
In the example above, I put together a 20-minute video about Facebook ads that a large patio furniture manufacturer sent to their 400+ retailer email list. About 3-4 hours of effort and I get 2 deals out of that collaboration.
14. Use your social profiles to “practice what you preach” and highlight your experience.
If you’re selling digital marketing services but your social media profiles look like ghost towns it can hurt your credibility. Especially if you’re doing most of your prospecting online. (People will Google you I promise)
So that being said at the very least you should be utilizing a Facebook business page and LinkedIn account. Make sure all your information is filled in and that you’re actively participating/sharing and growing the social proof on your page.
Endorsements on my LinkedIn profile.
In the beginning people won’t just find you and want to work with you, you’ll need to send them direct links. But eventually as your following, testimonials, etc. grow then people will start coming to you.
15. Use Facebook search to find people who need your help.
This is one of my favorite (yet underused) strategies for getting more clients.
You can literally go to the Facebook search bar and just type things in like “I need help building a website” or “help with Facebook ads” and you’ll be able to search dozens of public posts and group posts.
Navigate to “Public Posts” and “Group Posts” after you search.
Hop into the conversations, provide value and see how/if you can help. One of our members inside the Laptop Empire Lab uses this strategy with a lot of success.
16. Connect with business owner in the right online forums.
There’s a handful of websites and forums like Alignable that are made specifically for business owners to connect, ask questions and learn from each other.
So similar to Facebook groups, login and see what questions people are asking, where you can contribute and who you can help.
17. Write about people you want to work with in your content.
My friend Ryan Robinson over at RyRob.com built his entire freelance business with this one strategy… Basically you create content and feature/mention the people you want to work with in that content.
When it’s published, you reach out to them and let them know they were featured. You use this “cool thing” you did for them to start a conversation with them. Ryan was kind enough to do a masterclass on this strategy inside the Laptop Empire Lab.
Another example of this I’ve seen is conversation pros of website developers will do a weekly (public) teardown of website of a business they want to work with.
They are creating content for their audience and at the same time opening the door to communication with a potential client while highlighting how they could be doing better.
18. Create a Facebook ad campaign.
It’s strange to me how many people want to start here. But honestly, it’s not that easy…
I only recommend doing a paid campaign if you have $5-$20 per day to spend on it AND already have a solid case study to show off.
Here’s my ad. I don’t typically offer trials but I made exception to create an epic offer.
You need to keep things simple. When I first tried paid ads I sent people to a landing page where they had to opt-in to watch a long video that was attached to a survey. It didn’t work…
When I switched to a short 4-minute video (no opt-in required to watch) then sent them to a Calendly booking page, it worked like a charm. It’s all about testing and see which works best for the people you’re trying to reach.
19. Use Facebook groups to add target audience as “friends” and use direct messages + organic content to create opportunities.
In every Facebook group when you visit the members list, you can see an area that has “Members With Things In Common.” This is a great place to start adding people in relevant groups and starting casual conversations with them about what they do and what they are working on (AKA: where they are and where they want to be).
You can simply start by saying something like: “Hey I saw we had some mutual friends and groups! Would love to connect. How long have you been in [niche]?”
This will allow you to identify potential clients and create opportunities for joint partnerships, interviews and more.
The more conversations with your target audience you have, the more clients you’ll attract.
This isn’t scalable like LinkedIn automations or Facebook ads but can be a great way to get started when you’ve got more time than money.
You should also be posting relevant stories, social proof, mistakes and shifts your ideal audience should make. Then when you see people like/comment on those posts, directly reach out and start conversations like I mentioned above.
This works because they’ve metaphorically raised their hand and showed interest in what you’re talking about.
20. Build an email list and send regular emails.
One of the best long-term strategies you can implement into your business is growing and nurturing an email list.
Email is not going anywhere anytime soon and it’s one of the only assets you can own. Unlike a social media page or group that is out of your control and could change or go away one day, you own your email list and no one can take it away.
When you build your list with the right people on it (using both on and offline tactics) and combine that with a regular newsletter/content (or better yet automated sequences) you can build trust with the people on that list and stay top of mind so when they become ready to buy, they think of you.
21. Speak at industry events and create your own.
If you’re confident speaking to groups or even crowds of people, this strategy is for you. Similar to magazines and online publications, there are groups and communities of people who are always looking for fresh speakers and topics.
As an example, I spoke to a group of interior designers at a small event and then they invited be back to speak at a later time for a full hour. This builds trust and likability quickly and creates a lot of interest in your services.
Another local event for entrepreneurs I recently spoke at.
Optional Ways To Get More Clients (Group 3)
Alright we’re in the home-stretch! But I’ve got a little bit of bad news…
These last 8 strategies are not for everyone.
In fact some of these strategies (like the next one) I’m going to tell you to avoid completely.
But… I want this article to be as thorough as possible so I’m going to include these strategies because they CAN get results but chances are it will take a long time and test your patience.
22. Use online job boards like UpWork.
Like I said above… I recommend you avoid this strategy at all costs. Unless you’ve already worked your way up and built a reputation on these sites, starting here is a nightmare because you’ll compete on price with people who will work for pennies and you’ll never earn a living.
On these websites clients want per hour or per project labor for cheap and that lack of consistency is extremely frustrating for the service providers. Online job boards are an option, just not a good one.
23. Join partner program for somewhere companies who need support for their customers.
There are a lot of software companies out there like Hubspot and Shopify that have partner programs for people who can service their customers who want to use their tools, but don’t know how.
Hubspot agency partner program.
Each business will have it’s own partner or marketplace guidelines but if you’re well versed with their tools, you can piggyback on their clients and get more business.
24. Reach out to businesses via email.
Unfortunately, email outreach is becoming less and less effective as more people do it the wrong way and piss off all the business owners in the world…
Ideally, you do some solid prospecting and identify businesses you think could use your help then you reach out and tell them. Not just any random person with a website.
There are two schools of thought here… One is that you keep it simple and send a short message with some kind of prospecting offer (free value that get’s them on the phone). The other is that you put a lot of effort into a video or PDF with suggestions. I prefer keeping things simple.
If you need to find someones email, use Viola Norbert. Some people recommend sending the email to a person, the general contact email AND the contact form to really get their attention. But that’s up to you…
25. Facebook outreach.
Similar to email outreach, but instead of having to find an email, you contact them on their business’s Facebook page.
The big negative here – aside from it being cold outreach – is that if they aren’t regularly checking their inboxes (they might not even know how) then getting ahold of them will not be easy.
Here’s an example of the message I used.
26. Cold calling as a followup to cold message.
I warned you… The further we get down this list the scarier these ideas get! 😂
So if you really want to put yourself through the pain of cold calling, make sure you send a message or email first that you can reference on the call.
For example you could say: “Hi, my name is Brian and I’m following up an email I sent earlier regarding your website, can you point me in the right direction so I can speak with whoever manages your site?”
I’ve done this in the past with varying degrees of success but it’s not something I’d recommend as a long-term solution.
27. Door-to-door without a pitch.
When I started my first business I’d try to pitch everyone I met. Ambitious and stupid? Yes…
But I also learned people hate being sold to that way… I learned to go into businesses and say something like:
“Hi, I just started a new business and I’m hoping to connect with other business owners in the community.”
And you’re genuinely just trying to do that. Ask what local groups they are a part of, other business owners they know, etc.
28. Optimize your website for search engines and inbound traffic with SEO.
Alright let’s end with one that’s highly effective but takes a lot of time… And that’s optimizing your website so people looking for the services you offer can find you via search engines.
For example, a friend of mine ranks in the top 3 results when people type in “content marketing consultant” which drives a steady stream of inbound leads to his business.
This takes time and strategy by creating the right content and generating backlinks to other content, but works extremely well and doesn’t cost a penny.
How To Build Your Own Client Generating Machine
I know I just threw a ton of information and ideas at you, so let’s wrap this up by giving you a simple gameplan so you can take action…
First, choose 2-3 strategies from the Group 1.
Once you land a couple of clients, pick another 2-3 from that same group.
Test to see which are the most effective and schedule time to do those regularly.
After you’ve got a solid foundation, move onto Group 2 and choose another 3-5 strategies to test.
Your goal is to identify the strategies that “move the needle” with the least amount of effort. Double down on those strategies.
If you’ve exhausted all other options, as a last resort, test some of the strategies listed in Group 3.