There is a pretty universal belief in consulting—especially if you’re a solo—that “whale” clients are bad.
They can gobble up an outsized amount of your time and you may find yourself twisting like Gumby trying to keep them happy.
You might also get so comfortable with the rhythm of serving them that you stop putting effort into marketing, selling and building your future pipeline.
But what if a certain type of whale actually accelerated your business growth?
Granted it isn’t for everyone (if you’re not careful you can wind up on a hamster wheel), but I’ve worked with more than a few clients who’ve built a consistently profitable, sustainable and happy business with less than a handful of clients at any one time.
To make it work, they have chosen their whales VERY carefully, making sure that:
- They fit neatly into their sweet-spot (type of work, industry, client profile, etc.), so that they’re likely to attract more of their kind.
- There is a clear line of sight connection between the work they’ll do together and how the consultant plans to build out their business and revenue model.
- There is never just one client (which, let’s face it, is not a sustainable business model).
- They are worthy of investment—because they are good people with worthy goals who will view the consultant as a trusted, strategic resource.
- The client values their services and is willing to pay for value received.
- They can grow with each other—or part company respectfully when their goals diverge.
The models I’ve seen where a whale strategy works its magic for both sides tend to be high level consulting or advisory—especially when your service has a direct and often outsized impact on the bottom line.
But make no mistake: the consultants who make this work are still executing their authority-building marketing and sales plan.
Because whales only work when you’ve built the ongoing authority to attract their replacements.