Welcome to Part 3 of our three-part series on growing your consulting firm with an outbound authority-based sales strategy.
In Part 2 we described the role of “authority content” in outbound client acquisition and the essential requirement to “80/20” your target list to increase the probability of success.
In this article we discuss how a multi-channel outbound strategy works, how to orchestrate it properly, and how to build the right client acquisition team.
Multi-Channel Outbound Client Acquisition Campaigns
When selling B2B consulting services, you need to engage prospective clients across multiple outbound communication channels.
Gone are the days of simply picking up the phone, dialing and reaching a prospect at his or her desk. Today, everyone from the CEO to junior analysts jumps from communication channel to communication channel throughout the day.
(This blog post discusses this “channel hopping” dynamic and why it’s so important now to engage prospects across channels.)
Business people never stand still. They text on the train, talk on their mobile while walking to the office, check emails, then make a phone call, then IM, then head off to a meeting. Leave the office and check LinkedIn messages at lunch on their mobile. Then back to the office, check email again, another meeting…
Simply getting through to a potential client, let alone engaging in a serious conversation, takes significant effort across multiple channels.
The best approach is to use three channels for outbound client acquisition:
CHANNEL #1: Phone / Voicemail
Outreach by phone and voicemail begins with offering potential clients your high-value “authority content” as a first step. The initial call is to offer a strategy paper, article, or webinar invite. After that the phone and voicemail are used to initiate discovery calls with interested prospects. While reachability by phone has become a challenge, once you have a prospect on the line it’s a high-engagement opportunity.
CHANNEL #2: LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the world’s largest and most comprehensive database of ideal consulting clients. There are almost 500 million professionals on LinkedIn across every industry. Linkedin campaigns start with optimizing your team’s profiles to present your value proposition. Then their networks are built up with hundreds of prospects meeting your targeting criteria. These prospects are nurtured by sharing LinkedIn Articles with them. After a period of “leading with value” you reach out with a collegial message to initiate a discovery call.
CHANNEL #3: Outbound Email
98% of business decision-makers use email for several hours every day, making outbound email campaigns an important part of a consulting client acquisition strategy. It is not enough to simply send emails to a large number of prospects and “play the numbers”. A personalized, high-value, authority-based approach is essential. This increases deliverability (stay out of the spam box) and demonstrates your firm’s value and brand.
These channels are used extensively by your potential clients. Campaigns that use all three increase the likelihood of making a quality connection by engaging prospects over 3-6 weeks. This helps reach individuals who prefer one or two channels, and offsets the “channel hopping” that occurs during every business day. It is a natural and thorough progression that increases the odds of positive engagement.
Campaign Orchestration and Systems
Orchestrating a multi-channel client acquisition campaign can resemble a conductor directing a symphony.
When reaching out to prospects across multiple channels, it’s imperative to sequence and synchronize the communications correctly. In most cases, several individuals will be responsible for different parts of the campaign. It is easy for the team to become disjointed and ineffective if the process is not well-orchestrated.
For example, if a prospect says “no” on LinkedIn, she should not be engaged by phone or email. If a prospect is non-responsive by email, the outreach should shift to LinkedIn or phone. If a voicemail is left for a prospect, sending a follow-up email mentioning it increases the odds of a return call. These nuances can make or break the success of your outbound client acquisition campaigns.
You will need data, software and reporting systems to manage your outbound campaigns. These need to do the following:
- Assign and monitor campaign activities to team members
- Build and prioritize target lists
- Manage outbound communications, including training all players on your value message
- Facilitate auto-dialing and voicemails for the call channel
- Run multi-step sequences with behavioral responses for the email channel
- Manage workflows and send targeted messages for the LinkedIn channel
- Record campaign activity and responses from prospects
- Measure engagement (aka “lead scoring”)
- Share information among the campaign team to avoid conflicts and ensure thorough engagement across all channels
Basic campaigns can be run with a shared Google Sheet or Office 365 Excel workbook in the cloud. This can work for small firms running basic campaigns targeting a low number of prospects.
For larger campaigns involving multiple Partners and service offerings, you will need a more sophisticated system designed for multi-channel outbound sales development. This system must be capable of handling lots of data, integrating with phone and email software, running A/B tests, and running automated reports. This is not a CRM — it is a dedicated outbound lead generation activity management system.
Building Your Client Acquisition Team
As discussed previously, assigning outbound client prospecting duties to your billable consultants is a bad idea. You need a dedicated team whose primary goal is to prospect for ideal clients and set up discovery calls for your senior practice leaders.
The ideal outbound client acquisition team includes:
- Your Partners and/or senior practice leaders. These are the individuals for whom the outbound team arranges discovery calls with potential new clients.
- Sales Development Representative (SDR). This person is responsible for engaging prospects by phone, voicemail and email using an auto-dialer system, and scheduling discovery calls on behalf of each Partner or senior consultant.
- LinkedIn Account Manager. This person runs the daily process in each of your Partner’s or senior consultant’s LinkedIn accounts, targeting and building their networks with ideal prospects, and sending direct messages.
- Email Account Manager. This person creates multi-step email sequences, manages the email accounts, and runs outbound email campaigns for each Partner or senior consultant.
- Senior Copywriter. This person interviews your Partners and senior consultants, and translates their knowledge into “authority content” articles, papers, etc.
- Campaign Coordinator. This person coordinates the individuals, activities, and deliverables for the campaign. He or she is responsible for keeping things on track, scheduling team meetings, and reporting the results on a regular basis.
Each team member must be thoroughly familiar with your firm’s offerings, key value messages, FAQs, case study examples, etc. They represent your firm and engage high-value prospects on your firm’s behalf. It is critical that they are smart, well-educated and skilled at communicating your firm’s brand. You should not outsource these functions to cheap offshore resources, or leave it to junior personnel with limited business knowledge.
The best results often come from pairing internal experts familiar with your firm’s services and market, and a high-quality partner with the right outbound systems and experts. This gets you ramp-up speed, flexibility and scalability. It reduces the costs and time to market compared to building an in-house team and implementing all the systems yourself.
How to Put This Knowledge Into Action and Get Your Firm Growing
If you’re still reading at this point, you probably have some questions about how to put this strategy in motion to grow your firm.
- How much investment is required to implement this type of growth program?
- How long does it take to start seeing tangible new client results?
- Can it implemented without going “all in” and building a team before you know it works?
- What’s the value of content vs. outbound engagement activity?
- What’s a reasonable ROI to expect from a program like this?
- How to recruit and train the right team that can ramp up quickly and generate results?
These are great questions that can be answered by our growth experts that run this type of program day-in-day-out for consulting firms.
We create, customize, and implement this exact strategy for ourselves and our clients successfully on a daily basis. We put blood, sweat and tears into helping our clients and live or die by their success.
We shared this strategy so you know what’s involved in running a next level client acquisition program.
If you’d like have an honest discussion about what’s possible and what it will take to grow your client base significantly, then book a call with us here >
You can just “wing it” and reinvent the wheel, costing your firm valuable time and money, generating sub-standard results, and settling for less-than-stellar performance.
You can continue on your current growth trajectory, happy with your firm’s position in the market.
It’s up to you.
We hope this article has provided great value for you. If you’re serious about growing your firm and you’d like to discuss how to implement an outbound client acquisition program feel free to schedule a call with us now >