A better way to find clients for your IT consulting business

As an experienced software engineer or IT professional, you have spent many years building up your expertise and your skill-set. You’ve built many solutions and you have solved many problems for clients of various sizes. You have finally decided to turn your expertise into a proper business and escape the rat race once and for all.

Perhaps you’ve even put a team together and have managed to secure a client or two with some decent projects. Everything is looking promising.

Except you run into a little problem.

You have NO idea how to get more clients.

The B2B sales process for technology products and services is complicated, it requires reaching out to the right people who are in a position to make a decision and navigating a complex sales cycle, and you don’t even know where to begin. In fact, you hate this part You really really do. You’re a technology person after all. You’re brilliant at what you do. Surely you shouldn’t have to engage in low-life scummy sales tactics to find clients. You really hate this part.

But you have a business now, so you try. You send out some cold e-mails. You pitch some people on LinkedIn. You spend some money on social media ads, and it just goes down a drain. And then…. nothing. Zero. You have NO new clients. You’re in a rut. You begin to panic.

But there is good news.

Let’s take a step back. Whenever you find yourself in a rut, always take a step back. Take a few deep breaths, calm yourself down for a moment, and try to get more general. Try to look at the big picture. You have to put the problems aside for a moment so you can clear your mind and take a fresh look.

The good news is that there is a clear path to what you want.

In fact, you already have the components in place.

The first step is to realise that your professional career so far has given you a valuable competitive advantage.

You now know certain things and can do certain things that very few people on the planet know or can do.

The second step is to realise there is demand for these special skills and knowledge you possess.

There are business owners, managers, decision makers, leaders who are, right now, in need of what you know and what you can do for them. More importantly, many of them have both the willingness and the ability to compensate you generously if you can help them solve specific challenges they are currently facing, or specific goals they are currently committed to achieving.

The third step is to realise that you already have direct access to most of these people. It’s called LinkedIn (or, more broadly, social media).

As you can see, I was not being wishy-washy when I said the components are already in place. All 3 of the above are indeed already in place.

The path to what you want is through aligning yourself – your internal beliefs, your presentation and the messaging you put out – so you position yourself to be the natural choice for those seeking your expertise.

And yes, you do have to learn to sell. But this doesn’t have to be so intimidating and you certainly don’t have to feel like a low-life doing this. So take another deep breath, and allow yourself to get friendly with sales for a moment. Soon you will be best friends – better than you know.

I’ll give you a blueprint to follow, right here in this post. And in the future I’ll go into many more details, but this here should be more than enough to get you started. You shouldn’t need ANYTHING else, don’t get yourself overwhelmed. It’s actually very simple and even easy.

First I’ll tell you what NOT to do.

Then I’ll give you a few basic steps to follow.

First and foremost – DO NOT go hire anyone to do this for you. Trust me on this one. No one can market or sell your product for you before you’ve mastered this process yourself first. You MUST learn to sell your own products and services, there is no way around it. What’s more – no one can do it better than you. You KNOW what you’re good at. You KNOW what you’ve been able to do for other clients before. You KNOW what problems you’ve been able to solve. You’ve SEEN people and businesses struggle and make wrong decisions and regret them and you KNOW how to do this right. You know how to do it better. No one else can communicate this better than you. No one can be more convincing. No one can connect with your future clients better than you.

Second, avoid paid advertising before you’ve learned how to generate high-ticket sales without it. Paid ads are an amplifier. If you’re making zero sales right now, the result of putting lots and lots of money in paid ads will be lots and lots of money multiplied by zero. Don’t waste your time and money doing this. I’ve been there. It ain’t pretty.

Repeat after me: Paid ads and sales people are for scaling only. Once you’ve got your offer and your messaging down to a proven working system, you can then pay for ads and hire sales people to go 10x or 100x bigger. But you are not ready for this. Delay this phase as long as possible. When the time comes, you will know it.

Finally, for the love kittens, please don’t go spamming people left and right with your offer. Don’t send e-mails. Don’t talk to strangers on messenger. Don’t call them on the phone. Don’t ask for appointments. Just don’t, ok? Don’t do it. No one likes that. It won’t get you anywhere.

There IS a better way.

So here is what to do.

You can get started today, easily. And you can see results quickly, without spending a fortune on anyone or anything.

Your biggest problem right now is obscurity. No one knows you exist. Simple as that.

To start getting more sales, you have to get out there where relevant people can see you so that A) they know you exist and B) you get an opportunity to speak directly to their current pains and frustrations.

As tacky as it sounds, social media turns out to be useful for this.

I’ve found that LinkedIn can be pretty great for B2B sales – but I’ve also seen people get good results with high-ticket sales on Facebook as well. (Once again, though – DO NOT just go spamming people on LinkedIn! Keep calm and read on.)

There is a structure and sequence to the approach. You have to do things in the right order and you have to get through some things first, but it’s easy, there’s no big expenses involved, and you can start getting results in weeks or even days if you do this right.

The first steps go like this:

  1. Get as much clarity as you can on who your ideal clients are and what your main offer is. I think you already have a good idea about this, but always worth thinking harder about it and putting it in writing for yourself and your team. Make sure to think about your ideal client as A PERSON, even if we’re talking billion-dollar corporations here. At the end of the day someone has to make a decision and write a check.
  2. Prime your LinkedIn profile. Make it look professional. Use the tag-line to speak directly to your ideal buyer (this requires some creativity and it’s a bit of a process – don’t be afraid to keep changing it, but once you find something that works, stick with it.) Use the longer “About” section to do more of the same. You have to basically turn that into a mini sales letter. Don’t go into many technical details – always write as if it’s coming out of your ideal client’s head. Think of their situation, their current struggles and challenges, the urgency of the problem, and how you can relieve that. Talk about what they will gain from working with you and the amount of time, effort and money they will save.
  3. Start adding very targeted connections – on a daily basis. If you wish, you can pay for LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator, but I’ve found that the basic search works good enough for me. Every day run a search for people who may be in a position to make decisions about your offer (or go through your LinkedIn network recommendations) and just send out connection requests to 5 – 10 people each day day (but don’t go crazy and start adding everyone indiscriminately.) You can add a little personalisation note, but I’m not sure it makes much of a difference with most people. Your profile (and especially the tag-line) should be able to speak for itself. There are people who use LinkedIn for networking and they will usually accept your connection request. Then there are people who don’t like connecting with strangers and they will ignore you. Don’t make a big deal out of it, don’t take it personally, just stick to the process and turn it into a habit.
  4. While you are growing your network, start making more regular posts. You should aim for once a day, on average. You can do more (but not much more) or less (but not much less). In your posts, you can do a number of different things, but the whole point is to imagine you are speaking directly to your ideal clients. Don’t be too sales-y all the time, just speak from your expertise and experience. Talk about their problems and your solution to them. Talk about what you’ve done for other similar clients and the specific benefits they’ve experienced. Talk especially about saving time – that’s a big one.
  5. Don’t be discouraged if you get little to no interactions with your posts at first! This DOESN’T mean people aren’t reading your content. Many people (especially busy people) will not react to your content, but if it’s relevant they WILL read it. When people do start interacting with your posts, feel free to start conversations with them. Keep the conversation exploratory and see how you can be of service. If you can get them on the phone, even better. Just keep this in mind: your first job is NOT to try to sell them anything. It’s to understand whether or not you’re a good fit for working together and to genuinely give them the advice that’s best for them. If this happens to mean working with you, great – don’t be shy about it either.
  6. Once every few weeks, make a post with a very direct offer, targeted to your ideal client, based on what you’ve learned from the people you’ve been talking to. If you’ve done 1- 5 right, the people reading this now know who you are and respect you as an authority in your field.

It won’t be long before you start making sales this way.

Yes, it takes work. No, it’s not difficult. When you are getting started, this is the path. Once you get good at this, you can then scale in more efficient ways.

Hope this helps.

Feel free to leave me comments or questions, or to e-mail me directly at: code+wp@a115.co.uk

I can go into many more details, ideas, suggestions and tips, once I know where you are in the process and what you’re struggling with.