How To Identify Your Ideal Client In Consulting (4-Step Guide)

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Consultants: who is your ideal client?

If you’re not clear on…

  • Why you’ve selected your niche
  • Your area of specialization
  • The characteristics of your ideal client
  • Whether you’ve properly validated your market

…chances are you don’t have enough clarity on who your ideal client is.

Success as a consulting business owner depends on deeply understanding who you serve.

The more specific you are about your ideal client, the more specific you can make your marketing, sales, and strategic offers.

And that means you’ll stand out from your competition, face less resistance, and be able to command premium fees.

By the end of this article, you’ll understand what it means to achieve true clarity around your ideal client.

Ready? Let’s dive in…

The more specific you are about your ideal client, the more specific you can make your marketing, sales, and strategic offers.

1. Self Discovery & Niche Scoring

Before you get clear on your ideal client, you must get clear on yourself: your passions, interests, career history, and more.

Why?

You want alignment between your interests and the interests of your ideal clients.

You can have access to many potential clients, but if you’re not interested in solving their problems, then you’ll struggle to build a great consulting business. You won’t have the passion to do the work.

In our Clarity Coaching Program, we teach our clients to think carefully about 5 aspects of self-discovery:

  • EXPERIENCE. How would you rate your experience with this niche?
  • EXPERTISE. How would you rate your status as an expert within this niche?
  • RESULTS. How would you rate your confidence that you can deliver results for this niche?
  • POTENTIAL. How would you rate this niche’s growth and how willing they are to hire consultants?
  • INTEREST. How would you rate your interest in this niche?
  • ACCESS. How would you rate your ability to speak with ideal clients in this niche?

Take any industry you’ve worked in (software as a service, finance, healthcare, etc). Run that industry through these 6 factors.

Here’s an example.

You’ve spent several years as a COO in the Manufacturing industry. You’re interested in becoming a management consultant specifically for manufacturing companies.

You score this niche like this:

  • EXPERIENCE: 3/5
  • EXPERTISE: 3/5
  • RESULTS: 4/5
  • POTENTIAL: 5/5
  • INTEREST: 5/5
  • ACCESS: 4/5

With a score of 24/30, this is a viable and profitable niche for you to serve. You’re looking for a score of 22 and above.

You have sufficient experience and expertise to serve the market. You’ve created results for businesses in the market. You see a lot of potential in the market. You have access to decision-makers. And you’re interested in serving people in this industry.

Scoring a few industries using this method will help you quantify which niche is worthy of specializing in.

Doing this exercise will help you not only better understand the viability of a particular industry — but will also help you understand how viable it is for YOU to choose it as the focus of your consulting business.

(If you’re looking for more examples, worksheets, and personalized coaching to help you through this key process, check out our Clarity Coaching Program)

You can have access to many potential clients, but if you’re not interested in solving their problems, then you’ll struggle to build a great consulting business. You won’t have the passion to do the work.

2. Specialization

Now that you’ve selected a niche to serve, you want to think about how you can become a specialist within that niche.

Remember this: as an independent consultant or boutique consulting firm owner, it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond.

When you’re a big fish in a small pond, it’s easier to stand out, attract the attention of your ideal clients, and command higher fees.

So, how do you become a big fish in a small pond?

By specializing.

Let’s look at two examples:

  1. “Consultant for small businesses” is an example of a small fish in a big pond. Both “consultant” and “small businesses” are far too generic. We’d call this a generalist with no clear specialization.
  2. “Content marketing consultant for accounting firms” is an example of a big fish in a small pond. “Content marketing consultant” is a specific type of consultant. An “accounting firm” is a specific type of business. We’d call this a specialist, both in terms of what they do and who they serve.

From these two examples, who do you think would have an easier time standing out?

Who would have an easier time reaching out to clients?

Who would have an easier time charging — and justifying — higher fees?

The latter example — every single time.

When investing in consultants, buyers want the least amount of risk and the highest potential return.

The specialist, with their expertise and experience, demonstrates less risk and more promising outcomes than the generalist.

Why?

They’ve encountered — and solved — the same problem more than the generalist.

So, as you get clear on your ideal client, get specific in terms of the industry they’re in as well as the specific type of consulting you’ll provide to them.

This will help position you as a specialist which is key to standing out and attracting the attention of your ideal client.

When you’re a big fish in a small pond, it’s easier to stand out, attract the attention of your ideal clients, and command higher fees.

3. Client Characteristics

Now that you’ve thought about how you’ll specialize, you can start to dig deep into the individual characteristics of your ideal client.

Knowing that you serve accounting firms is a great start. But who exactly within that accounting firm will you target?

This is where you’ll write down the characteristics of your ideal client.

  • SIZE. How much revenue does your ideal client’s company make? Approximately how many employees work at their company?
  • LOCATION. Where is your ideal client located in the world?
  • SENIORITY. What level of seniority does your ideal client have?
  • JOB TITLE. What is your ideal client’s job title?

To find this information, browse LinkedIn and find someone who you think of as your ideal client.

Then, write down the information about their company size, their location, their level of seniority, and their job title.

Now, you have tangible, quantifiable information about your ideal client.

You can use this information to build searches for your specific ideal client — a key part of the final step.

4. Validating Your Ideal Client

The final step of achieving clarity around your ideal client is to validate your market: speaking to real people within your niche, and ensuring there is demand for your offers.

This is where theory meets action. You’ll have to start reaching out to people and start conversations.

Here is a sample campaign you can run to start getting referrals to your ideal client:

  • Reach out individually to past clients, colleagues, and professional contacts to catch up.
  • Send them a warm email checking in, letting them know what types of projects you are now working on and who you’re trying to work with — and ask about their current role and business needs.
  • Show interest in what they have been up to both personally and professionally.
  • Ask if they can think of anyone in their network who could benefit from your services. Make it easier for them to think of someone by articulating who is your ideal client.
  • The goal is to reestablish rapport, remind them of your skills and experience, and open the door for future partnerships and collaborations.
  • Once you’ve been introduced to a potential ideal client, schedule a call with them to learn about their problems and desired results.

Using this method, you can reactivate dormant relationships and make new connections to potential ideal clients — where you’re then able to validate a demand for your services.

And this is what we teach in our Clarity Coaching Program.

Not only do we have an entire module on achieving ideal client clarity — we have coaches who will walk you through each step.

This is one of the most important aspects of consulting, and in Clarity, you’ll have an entire community to help you get it right.

Once you achieve clarity around your ideal client, you have the foundation for which you can build a truly successful consulting business.

In our Clarity Coaching program, we’ve helped over 1000 consultants to build a more strategic, profitable, and scalable, consulting business.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CLARITY COACHING

We’ll work hands-on with you to develop a strategic plan and then dive deep and work through your ideal client clarity, strategic messaging, consulting offers, fees and pricing, business model optimization, and help you to set up your marketing engine and lead generation system to consistently attract ideal clients.

You’ll learn how to generate more profit with every project you take on — and how to land more clients than ever before. Learn more about Clarity Coaching and get in touch to talk about your situation and goals.

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