“Doug” is a smart, talented guy with a highly marketable expertise very much in demand in his market.
And yet he was discouraged with the growth—or lack thereof—in his consulting business.
Because for every stellar client he engaged, he endured handfuls of challenging ones.
Ultimately, he realized the problem: since he hadn’t finely tuned his ideal client profile, he found himself saying “yes” to anyone kind of/sort of in the vicinity.
The solution? Getting 100% clarity on exactly the right client, so Doug would know where to confidently invest his time.
We started with a quick assessment. Doug ranked every client a 1 to a 5 (with 5 being “give me 100% of those” and 1 being “never darken my door again”).
Then, we set a new ground rule: never say yes to any 1, 2 or 3’s again. (We made a list of the qualities or situations that made for a likely low ranking so Doug could screen for those).
Then, we teased out what made clients and/or their projects a 4 or a 5. It was a pretty simple list:
The organization was a) in a specific industry that Doug knew well and b) in a deep state of flux with a bet-the-business problem.
The lead client—whose function was directly impacted by the problem—knew they needed help to meet a demanding challenge and were all in.
They understood—with Doug’s help in the initial meeting—the impact of their work together on the big problem and were emotionally and intellectually ready to commit to the project.
They were willing to anchor Doug’s fees to the high value outcomes of solving the big problem.
They demonstrated their commitment to transparent communications no matter what the stakes.
And just like that, Doug had the front-end tools to say yes or no at any stage of acquiring a new client.
But these are more than just client acquisition cues.
You can also use them to frame how you build your authority so that the right people hear you and want to know more.
When Doug started shifting his new business conversations, his authority building changed too.
Now his articles and email list speak more to his ideal client—those in the throes of a huge business problem that upends how their function operates.
He’s leaning into some community building as a way to connect former and future clients while teaching them his point of view.
He even tackled social media, which he’d studiously avoided since he couldn’t figure out how to use it strategically to connect with his audience.
Now, it all made sense.