How to Get Better Consulting Clients without Being Too Sales-y

In the past few articles, we’ve looked at things your consulting business probably has setup already: a newsletter, and even probably an ebook or guide of some sort.

In each article, we’ve repeated the idea that you can make these offerings compete with the other stuff you have to sell. In your case, those low-cost options are competing with your consulting packages, and vice-versa.

But you’re left asking yourself: how can I get better clients? How can I pull that off without trying to convince clients to hire my services, in a sales-y kind of way.

So far, you’ve had a website showing you can do the work, showing the services you offer, and a contact link. That puts all of the focus on your sales conversations. We’ll look at a way to improve that.

We’ll switch:

  1. from having a generic website with tricky sales conversations…
  2. to having a sharp website supported by help-focused conversations.

You Offer Consulting Services… so Your Clients Can Make Progress

The key mindset we’ll get deep on, is this: your clients just want to make progress on a struggle they’re going through.

Even without knowing your specific domain of expertise, some common types of struggles keep happening for people seeking help from an outsider, like you.

Struggle of the Moment:

  • ⚬→ I’m on the hook for a certain responsibility, and it’s not going well. I’ve got a budget, but I’ve got a deadline. No more fussing around, this needs to get moving, and I want a professional so I can show some results.
  • ⚬→ There’s a market opportunity, I see a way to take advantage of it, but boy I don’t want to miss it. We better get on this very soon.
  • ⚬→ I’ve been trying to doing it myself for a while, but now it’s getting too much, and we don’t have a need to hire someone full-time. I want to find an expert so we set it up properly, so it’s something I won’t need to do manually anymore.
  • ⚬→ We’re starting something a little ambitious that’s going to adjust our course, maybe gain back some reputation, and we don’t have the chops within our team to do it. We don’t want to kill the momentum.

Whether you’re producing a logo, setting up IT systems, making a website or helping with more thoughtful decision-making, your client’s journey starts with a struggle like the ones above, which you’re helping solve.

You could get plenty of clients who don’t experience a struggle. You know the type who aren’t really in a hurry, just have an aspiration, aren’t too serious. But if you want better clients, you gotta be seen as the answer to a real struggle.

Forces of Progress for Hiring Your Consulting Services

So if they land on your site, while experiencing one of those struggles, what will be going on in their minds? What will make them say “tell me more…“, or what will make them think “Hrmm, I’m not sure about these people…”


You’ll recall that there are Four Forces of Progress that are at play in the mind of the client, while considering the decision to go forward. The Struggle (above), The Attraction, The Anxiety and The Habits (the next three below).

Attraction of the Solution:

What will be attractive about what you’re presenting on your site:

  • →⚬ I’ll be able to get moving with my problem;
  • →⚬ They seem to have the required expertise and knowledge, judging by the site’s design and what they present;
  • →⚬ There’s proof that they’ve done good work in the past for the kinds of problems I’m experiencing.

Anxieties About the Solution:

This is a big list. No wonder it’s hard to get your visitors on a call.

  • ←⚬ I’m not sure if I’ll be able to translate what I’m going through in terms they’ll really understand;
  • ←⚬ I’m hesitating about the fact that I might not understand the technical bits they’ll be talking about when describing their solution;
  • ←⚬ I’m not prepared for them to upsell me with things I don’t need;
  • ←⚬ I’m not sure we’ll be able to communicate effectively, when working together;
  • ←⚬ I don’t know if it’ll take a lot of time, what I’m asking for;
  • ←⚬ I don’t know if it’ll cost a lot of money, what I’m asking for;
  • ←⚬ I’m not sure they can do exactly what I need to get done.

Address those common anxieties, capitalize on those common attractions, make sure attractions outweigh the anxieties, and you’re on the right track. But those are a lot of anxieties to address!

On top of that, well, you’re competing against others in the field, and more importanly, you’re competing against these “We’ll just/I’ll just” statements:

Habits of the Present:

  • ⚬← We’ll just try to do it in-house;
  • ⚬← I’ll just learn to do some of it myself, it shouldn’t be too complicated;
  • ⚬← We’ll just go with someone we’ve worked with in the past and know we can work well with, even if they don’t do this service exactly. We’ll learn about how to do this new thing together.

Lots of anxieties, lots of competition, lots of fallback default behaviours.

So how do you serve your client’s struggle, and add appeal, and address anxieties, and be competitive, all that without convincing your clients to hire you at every conversation?

Make Everything You Offer Compete Against Everything Else You Offer

Like we showed in previous articles, having a newsletter, and maybe an ebook, guide or email sequence, allows your visitors to “hire” a mini-version of what you offer, without going all the way up hiring your consulting services. Their presence offers your visitor a way to test you out, to learn alongside you, and to “bookmark” you, in a sense, for later.

But what if your visitor is ready now, with a struggle only an outsider like you can help solve? How do you make your services compete against your other services (if that makes sense), not other people’s services?

Well, you could package yourself up.

Your Value Ladder

Having multiple discrete packages, each serving different jobs, is a great way to communicate what you do clearly, and allows clients to plug themselves into a solution that fits their problem.

All your packages would be shown on a page, and each package could be detailed out on a separate page, vividly describing the struggle it addresses.

Each package is built to be more appealing that your own other packages or offerings, by pointing to these other services for comparison.

If you fill all the gaps, you can have something commonly called a value ladder, where every rung of the ladder is a small “distance” from its siblings:

  • Top-most rung: Custom consulting services, for custom-fitting a project with your skills;
  • Next step down: A premium recurring package, bringing expertise and oversight;
  • Next step down: A basic recurring package
  • Next step down: One-off deliverables or punctual engagements (includes calls or longer one-off sessions), offering a way to try you out;
  • Next step down: A guide, ebook or email sequence, so they can learn to figure out what’s important before hiring you;
  • Bottom rung: A newsletter, your blog posts, or your Twitter feed.

This way, each offering competes with the other, are all addressing a specific type of struggle, allowing you to be perceived as an authority on the subject, making you more accessible, and reassuring visitors anxieties.

With this approach, you just need to find opportunities to have conversations with people, and since you’ll have free information to provide, you will be able to help them without needing to turn every conversation into a sale. You’ll just be super helpful, and that will be well-received.

Attracting better clients? Your sharp packages, your value ladder, and the word-of-mouth from having served their job so well, those will do all the hard work of selling, so you can just concentrate on talking with more people.

Stay Sharp!


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