Why Consulting Today is a Lot Like Online Dating
If You’re Looking for True Love, then Don’t Settle for Less
While I am happily married, I still get to experience the thrill, excitement, ups and downs of online dating.
I’m constantly online, looking to make the next client connection. Sometimes, I reach out to potential clients, sometimes they reach out to me. Even on some occasions, I’ve had potential “match-makers” refer a potential client.
In each of these cases, things can go one of two ways. We chat, we hit it off and we start a long and productive relationship together (in this case 6 months or more). Occasionally we chat, something doesn’t quite sync for the potential client and either they are polite and tell me they are going in a different direction, or they just stop responding to all communication attempts entirely.
While I intellectually understand that it isn’t personal – it’s just business, there is still always a bit of emotion and self-doubt that creeps in when a potential client clearly says “no thanks.” Was my pricing too high (or too low?) Did I talk too much during the initial call? Did I ask the questions they were expecting, or did I not ask enough questions?
Eventually, I have to let go and move on. Occasionally those potential clients (primarily the ones who just stop communicating) will come back months, sometimes years later, and ask if I still have availability. This has happened now on several occasions.
How to Turn a Potential Client into a Long-Term Relationship?
I haven’t found a magic formula to turn potential clients into long-term relationships, but here are a few of my thoughts on how I have achieved success at turning some of my potential clients into long-term clients.
- When reaching out to potential clients, make sure your skill-set and availability meet what they are looking for currently. The closer your skills are to what they need, the more likely you will be able to at least get their attention and set up an initial call to discuss potential work.
- When being approached by potential clients, the same rule applies – make sure to have the right skill-set and availability. If you don’t, you won’t get past the first call.
- Be flexible. Don’t set your pricing or availability too rigidly, always leave some room for negotiation.
- Do your research. Before your first contact with a client, research their business. Also research your industry to make sure your pricing is in-line with your competition. Charging too low can be just as bad as charging too high.
If you’re a consultant, has your experience felt a bit like online dating to you as well? Please leave a comment and share your experience!