(even if you’ve never set a high-heeled foot in an office building before)
Working with high-paying corporate clients is the holy grail for many coaches and consultants…
‘Cause it represents a huge opportunity:
- there is a massive market: (estimated at $130bn to $350bn per year for consulting, coaching and corporate training services)
- corporates (can) pay exceptionally well (real example: they don’t bat an eyelid at paying 5 figures for a 2-day workshop!)
- working with corporates, you can leverage a network effect which means bye-bye to constant social media posting and being always “on”.
- not to forget the warm feeling of pride as you can boast to your friends and family about working with prestigious household names…
Who wouldn’t want a slice of that?
But here’s the rub – not all you passionate professionals with the drive to help people and make a difference in the world are making multiple 6 or 7 figures in their business. In fact, many scrape by at much, much less!
And that breaks my heart, because they end up frustrated, disillusioned, feeling undervalued and ultimately hate their job.
So let me help you make sure this doesn’t happen to you!
Let’s define what is the RIGHT corporate client.
The RIGHT corporate client is more than just a profitable client for your business. The RIGHT corporate client for your business will do 3 things:
- value you and pay you what you’re worth
- hire you again and again
- make your heart sing with joy ’cause you love working with them.
Taking these in reverse:
Clients that fill your heart with joy.
It really goes without saying, you should never work with people you don’t like. Why? Because life is too short! If you dislike your clients, you are setting yourself up for resentment and frustration – and did you really start your own business to be back to dreading Monday’s again?
It is a massive shame how many professionals fall out of love with their business – and when asked, they invariably say they don’t like the businesses they work with.
My motto: don’t work with sh**tty clients. And if you get the next two points right, you won’t need to either, because enough of the RIGHT ones will take up all your time!
The RIGHT clients hire you again and again.
Because they value you. They know you and know how much you can help them. To them, you’ve become a safe pair of hands, or a fresh pair of eyes or the one to ask insightful questions or whatever benefit you bring them that goes beyond your subject matter.
So they want to keep you, even if it’s just at then of a phone line (or zoom call).
The RIGHT clients value you and pay your worth.
That means they don’t try to barter you down. They don’t ask for discounts. They don’t expect work for free, think massive scope creep or calling you at 8 pm on a Saturday is ok.
Too often do I hear of consultants being asked to reduce their day rate because “this is a long project” or corporate trainer to run a training day for a measly few $$$ “because it’s for our junior team”.
Seriously – what kind of justification is that?
Trust me, the RIGHT clients will not treat you that way. They will happily pay* your value – as long as you position yourself correctly. [about positioning yourself]
(as a side note: back in 1999 I was part of a project team dealing with potential Y2K issues and one of the specialists IT consultant charged a cool $32k PER DAY! Seems incredible, but he had mastered the art of positioning himself as so essential, they were happy to have him)
But, I hear you ask, “my offer isn’t a specialist technology thing – corporates would never pay anything like that”…
So what DO corporates buy and pay good money for?
In short: a lot. In fact, almost anything. If your offer helps businesses with their strategy, leadership, productivity, or specific skills – including things like creativity or speaking skills – or it enhances the employee experience, then you are hot property for corporates!
- stress management coach? Yes!
- leadership trainer? Yes!
- productivity expert? Yes!
- empowering women? Yes!
- sleep consultant? Yes!
- dog trainer? Yes!
The last few may take you by surprise, but I have seen it all: corporates even buy virtual bar-tending services for their Xmas parties in lockdown!
But the real question is:
What will they pay GOOD money for?
And again, the answer is – almost anything – if you position yourself correctly. That is why one of my students charges $15k for 3×90 min group coaching sessions while others only charge $850 for one-day workshop facilitation.
Of course, to get to talk to them in the first place, you need to have a solid value proposition [article on value proposition]. Your value proposition is all about addressing a problem they have and that you can solve for them.
When it comes to getting paid well, it is all about positioning. Of course, you do actually need to be good at what you do, but you don’t need to have created anything earth-shattering or uniquely new to position yourself as someone who commands high fees. And that means NOT blending in. NOT parroting the same “wisdom” as everyone else. That means NOT wearing a consulting mask that makes you barely discernable from all the other professionals out there, being just one of the many…
Pro tip: make sure you stand out from the crowd. DO NOT speak, dress and behave like everyone else in business – it just makes you blend into the beige wall of a dreary downtown conference venue… (you can read more about this here) [about being different]
So let’s assume you are doing your best to stand out in a sea of grey suits. But you’re still not getting (enough) corporate clients – or paid your value… – what’s going on?
Common obstacles: why they’re not buying / not buying from you / not paying you enough?
The first thing you have to realise is that corporate decision-makers are massively sceptic of consultants. I know this by the number of eye-rolls I used to perform when I was the CFO and got yet another cookie-cutter professional trying the latest snazzy tactic to sell me something.
And of course, I’m not alone in this: a study by business analysis firm Ross McManus, only 35% of clients are satisfied with their consultants.
What is going on?
One of the biggest mistakes that so many consultants and coaches make is to push their methodology, approach or service package without specific tailoring to their prospects. That means when a client buys, they invariably find that it’s not as simple as following a cookie-cutter approach to solving their issue.
Obviously, the simple way around this is to recognise that while you are the expert in your domain, the client is the expert in their business – so don’t push cookie-cutter stuff but use your expert knowledge to really listen and then help THEM solve their challenges.
What does that mean in reality?
Given the honest advice, even if it’s something they might not like to hear. Take into account their history and culture when designing your services – but also push them out of their comfort zone. Speak their language if you want – but also bring it back to basic, real-world communication.
Doing it this way, the RIGHT client will hire you again and again!
So where do find the right prospects for your coaching or consulting business?
5 tips that I have used:
The good news: you don’t need to struggle with stuff like funnels, chatbots, etc.
Instead, the very first thing you should do is to go to your network. Aks the people know you!
No, don’t worry, I am not saying you should pitch to your friends and family… Instead, you’ll find out who they can introduce you to potential prospects.
This means you must have figured out who you want to work with – and yes, saying “everyone” is not a valid answer (read here how niching down has quadrupled my consulting business)
Get in touch with people you have worked with
This includes all your previous employers, people you volunteered with and of course current and past clients.
Again, it’s not just about pitching to them. Of course, if they fit your dream client profile, then do pitch, but if not, work out who they can introduce you to!
Client referrals (and you can include previous employers in there) are probably the most effective way of getting new clients because you benefit from the “know, like and trust” that people have in the person referring you!
Speak at relevant events
This is less about TED talks, more about industry-relevant events. And with so many events now held online or at least having an online element, it’s never been easier to score a speaking gig.
Standing on a (virtual) stage transfers immense prestige to you because you are automatically seen as an expert. And because so many people shy away from public speaking, there is a good chance that your competition won’t be too intense!
Attend industry interest events
These are not networking events but rather conferences and public events where your ideal client might hang out. More effective for in-person events where you can mingle, but one not to forget for when these are coming back!
Offer taster sessions
For example, Lunch & Learn sessions that are a low commitment from the prospect but get you in the door and talking to people. Yes, it does mean some cold-ish outreach but since you are offering something of true value and don’t expect a big sale, this becomes a lot easier!
Pro-Challenge: give this a try in the next 3 weeks and see how simple it actually is to do!
Look for strategic partnerships
Check out your niche neighbours: who else is serving your ideal client but not on the same topic? Think of accountants, lawyers, IT advisers – can you create a relationship with them where they would refer you? This is a longer-term strategy but it works beautifully!
Final thoughts: How to find the RIGHT corporate client for your business
Getting that first prospective client, converting them to pay you, then getting a couple of clients more – it’s a thrill. You’ll feel amazing when it happens – but until then, it might all seem like a huge task, maybe even beyond you.
The trick is to take one step at a time – and keep taking them!
- the market opportunity IS huge – you could easily make 6-figures with just a handful of corporate clients
- working with the RIGHT client is both valuable and a joy for your business
- what you can sell and what you can charge is all about positioning – if you position yourself as high-value (with the credentials to back it up), corporates will pay high fees
- standing out from the crowd enhances your perceived value
- pushing cookie-cutter solutions on clients hinders your business growth
When you have worked out your value proposition and your positioning, using the 5 tips for finding the right prospects is the quickest and easiest way to secure your dreamboat corporate clients!