What To Do When You Get Your First Consulting Lead

Congratulations! You’ve been putting in work and figuring out how to get people coming to you looking for your services, as opposed to hitting the streets and knocking on doors to get clients (many have started here to be sure, and kudos to you if you put in the work to do it. Most won’t.).

This is exciting! They filled out your form and want to speak with you about paying you money to solve their problem.

So where do you start? What do you say in the conversation?

I’ve done this many times (I’ve sold five figure a month consulting contracts while wearing slippers and sweatpants) and seen hundreds of businesses hire consultants/agencies, so let me show you what I’ve learned.

When The Lead Comes In

When the lead comes in, you must do three things.

#1: Respond ASAP but Be Reasonable

The general rule for new leads is to respond as soon as possible. My rule is within two hours, even if it’s to say “no thank you”.

When I say “be reasonable”, I mean to pay attention to what day it is, what time it is where they are (and where you are), and so what to propose in the email for chatting on the phone to see “if the project is a good mutual fit”. You can use that line directly, by the way. You want to make sure that they are the right client for you (this helps with alleviating churn) as well as you being the right consultant/agency for them.

Don’t respond on Friday afternoon proposing a call that day. Don’t do that to them and don’t do it to yourself. They probably aren’t answering emails on the weekend, so why are you going to cause work for yourself over the weekend? Propose a time early the next week.

#2: Propose Times That Work For You

Following on above, never ask them to propose times that work for them. Instead, do one of two things (I prefer the second):

  1. Send them a link to a Calendly calendar (integrated with your calendar of choice, often Google Calendar) and ask them to select a time that works for them.
  2. Give them no more than three blocks of time you have available in the coming days.

The reason I prefer the second one is simple. I have nothing against Calendly (I use it myself and it’s awesome in the right context), but when you have someone wanting to pay you good money to solve their problem, you need to break out the consulting skills and do the work up front for them. Maybe I’m old fashioned (but I close like a champ, so listen up) but when someone wants to work with you and pay you, you should be the one doing the work to send the calendar invite.

Another pro tip for you – block off the times you propose. You don’t want them to come back with a time that works for them, that YOU proposed, and it no longer works for you. That’s amateur.

#3: Be Brief

Repeat after me: this initial response proposing a phone call is not the place to tell them about results you’ve gotten, who you’ve worked for, or any of that. Reserve that for at the right place in the call.

If they’ve contacted you, they’re already far down the conversion funnel. They’re pretty sure you can solve their problem. You don’t need to overwhelm them.

A response like this works great (actual response I sent to a client that closed into a huge consulting retainer):

Screenshot 2017-03-13 22.44.27

#4: Get A Phone Call Scheduled

Your number one goal in responding to leads is to get a phone call scheduled for as soon as reasonably possible. Remember, you are not:

  • Selling them on you. They’re already sold if they’ve contacted you directly (this is different if it’s coming from a lead aggregator)
  • Trying to get a better idea about project scope. That’s best handled on the phone.

Get them to commit to a time, get their phone number (respond with “Great, 2pm on Tuesday is fantastic. Where should I call you?”), and send through the invite with that information saying “I will call you at 2pm on Tuesday at XXX-XXX-XXXX”.

If you feel like it, you can also ask them in that confirmation of the time and phone number to send you along any documents ahead of time that they think might be useful. Leave it open ended, as you never know what they might send that you haven’t even thought about. In my experience, this is totally fine to do because you’ve already scheduled the call, and they have nothing to say no to. Give them an easy out with a “If you don’t have anything, no worries. We’ll dig deeper on the call on Tuesday.”

That’s it for this week. Come back next week for what to do and say during that initial phone call.

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One thought on “What To Do When You Get Your First Consulting Lead

  1. For #2 I’ve had success with including both a Calendly link and sharing two immediate blocks of time. Best of both worlds and avoids turning someone off with just a calendar link.

    I’d also add a follow-up step as #5. Looking back, more than half my leads closed last month had the fact finding call scheduled after the second contact.

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