️Episode 010 – 4 Reasons Your Consulting Pipeline Is Dry

As independent consultants, we can get so busy, heads down working for our clients, and neglect building and maintaining our pipelines. The result is that the revenue becomes a feast or famine situation.

On this episode, I share four specific reasons why your pipeline is empty, to help you to never be in this situation again.

[04:02] Reason #1
[07:45] Reason #2
[10:13] Reason #3
[13:16] Reason #4

As a bonus, I’ve created a free resource called the 26 Minute Lead Generation Method that you can use as a part of your larger strategy to ensure that your pipeline is a steady stream of leads.



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**note: This is an automated transcript, so please ignore spelling errors and grammar mistakes*


Welcome to the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business Podcast. I’m Melisa Liberman, a fellow IC and business coach. On this podcast, I teach you to become a consistently booked independent consultant without becoming a pushy salesperson or working 24/7. If I can do it, you can too. Listen on to find out how.


Welcome back, today we’re focusing on the four reasons your pipeline is dry. And by dry, I mean, you don’t have any prospective consulting clients on the horizon, you aren’t moving, prospective consulting clients through a process to talk with them about what their potential problems are, and how you might solve them. You’re not doing those business development activities. If you have a pipeline on a spreadsheet, it doesn’t have anything on it, or it’s pretty sparse. Or maybe you have a CRM and it’s empty, whatever it is, that’s what I mean by a dry pipeline. And as an independent, we all know the importance of continuing to work on business development, while we’re also in the client delivery mode, working on a project. But for a lot of us, we don’t do it until it’s too late. And then we’re facing the end of a project without that next client insight. And so today, because of this common challenge that I see across so many ICs, what I want to do is walk you through the four main causes of this dry pipeline, so that you can really get to the bottom of why you’re not doing the business development work that you know logically needs to happen. So with that, I want to give you a word of caution first, before we dive into these four reasons. So as you’re listening to this episode, you might be really tempted to think you’re different, that the four reasons I’m about to give you don’t apply to you. And that your cause of the empty pipeline is somehow out of your control. So you don’t have time, or the market is bad right now in your sector, or you have a weak network or a nonexistent network, whatever the reasons are. I hear these kinds of reasons all the time. And honestly, I’ve thought that myself at times, too. But really, honestly, when it comes down to it, these are excuses to justify not doing the business development work that you know you need to do. They’re excuses for you to justify not working on your business, and they feel so logical, right. But what I want to caution you on here is to get the most out of today’s episode, think about what I’m saying, how it does apply to you how it might apply to you how it’s possible, and even that it might apply to you. And we’re not doing this out of criticism. We’re doing this to figure out the real root cause of why your pipeline is dry so that you can fix it. So as we go through today’s episode, and I share with you these four reasons why your pipeline is dry, think about how what I’m saying applies to you, versus how they don’t apply to you. We’re not here to rule these out. Because believe me, I guarantee if I as I go through them, you can find a way to rule all of them out and go back to the reason that I don’t have time, that’s not going to help you. It’s not going to help you move forward and solve this challenge. So that is my advice, or you think about what I’m saying, and how might it apply to you so that then we can dig into the real solving for the real problem instead of the surface problem. All right. That’s my tough love for today. With that, let’s dive into the number one reason I see these are not in any order, by the way. But what number one is that I see so often. Other ICS independent consultants having a dry pipeline is that you’re thinking business development is a waste of time, that it’s futile. And it comes from the thoughts underneath out of the potential clients don’t want you what you do, or your expertise. So the inadequacy, the self-doubt, also comes from this feeling of futile comes from an idea that you have about yourself that you’re not capable of lead generation or selling. Like you’re just not capable of running a business at the heart of it. And so, therefore, any work that you might be doing to put clients as possible clients in your pipeline won’t work for one of those reasons. So let me give you an example of this. I had a client who came to me and she and she told me She was running out of time to do this lead generation work. And her conclusion was that she needed to fix her calendar, maybe she needed to get up earlier or, or stay up later, or do some form of sucking it up, right, just suck it up, work harder to fit this in. And on the surface, we might all agree that this plan sounds reasonable. I know for me, I do this all the time, like, I’ll just work harder, or I will sleep less, you know, a lot of us that’s our go-to strategy. But putting that solution in place is in especially for her was solving for the wrong root cause it wasn’t her calendar. As we started digging through the layers of why she wasn’t doing the work, it wasn’t about her time, it was about her thinking that this was futile is a futile effort, no matter what she did to create leads, it was going to be a waste of time. None of us are going to do something like a human that we think is a waste of time.


So with that client, she and I worked on why she was thinking it was a waste of time, and focused on that mindset focused on trying to really dig into what her thoughts were about herself, and about the potential clients and really dug under the covers to figure out why she thought it was futile, and address that root cause versus trying some elaborate calendaring solution. So for you, do you see how this can play out that underneath the surface, you’re thinking that your business development efforts, whatever they are, are a waste of time that they’re futile. And so, therefore, you don’t do them. So not because of your calendar is because you think it’s a waste of time underneath that. And so you might either avoid the lead generation entirely put it off until tomorrow, procrastination, or sometimes go through the motions to make yourself feel better and check things off the list. But when we’re coming at that, from the place of thinking as a waste of time, we’re just doing it anyway, someone told us to so we’re gonna go check the boxes. Either way, we’re coming at our lead generation thinking that it’s futile, we’re not going to see results. And it’s not because you’re bad at this or your calendar or any of these things is because your quality of thinking is low. So that’s the first place I want you to look is if your pipeline is dry is are you secretly thinking under the covers here, that this is a waste of time, futile efforts, that’s where you want to focus, if you’ve got that mindset going on. So that’s number one. Number two, you could very well be stalled by fear. Again, we’re all human here, right? It’s so common as an independent consultant, especially where so much is resting on our own shoulders for all of our business, to be paralyzed with that fear, whether it’s fear of rejection, fear of failure, or both, usually both. And so what this looks like is you might be stalled or frozen. in analysis paralysis, for example, you might be deciding kind of deciding on a business development approach and what you’re going to do to generate leads. And then before you even get off the ground, you change your mind. And you’re repeating that over and over again, trying to find the quote, unquote best way, the best solution, you might be negotiating with yourself. And really, at the end of the day, this is a stall out, right, you’re not diving in to test and see what works and what doesn’t work. You think there’s a right way and a wrong way and a way that will work in a way that won’t work. And it feels very binary that way, versus seeing that there’s a really big gray area in the middle. And what this stalling out by fear creates, I love to describe this when I talk with clients about this is like they’re walking down a long, long hallway like, I don’t know, imagine. I don’t know why it reminds me of like a haunted haunted hotel, like the Stanley Hotel or something. I don’t remember what movie that was. But anyway, I digress. So the point is, is it’s like you’re walking down this really long hallway with all of these doors. And each time you get to a door that you might try, the fear just shuts it in your face, like okay, I’m not going to try that method of lead generation. So you go to the next one, and you start to peek inside that room. And then the fear is like boom, and it shuts that door in your face and you’re constantly just walking down this hallway, being frozen out by yourself. And it comes from that fear of failure, the fear of rejection. And in the end, what ends up happening if this is the root cause of why your pipeline is dry, is that you end up rejecting yourself before anyone else has to too, and you’re just failing ahead of time. So if you notice that fear coming up as you think about business development, this is a root cause that you’ll want to really dive into. Okay, number three, you very well could be firmly planted in your comfort zone. This is a very common root cause of why our pipeline is dry. Most of us as an independent consultants, we’re very good at client delivery. And that’s where we put our focus. That’s where we put our time. And that’s what we justify that I need to go all-in for this client, and not see that perhaps 30 minutes a day could be carved out for me to work on my business, for example, we gravitate toward what we do really well and avoid what feels uncomfortable, that’s not coming naturally to us. And so with this root cause of a dry pipeline looks like is checking the boxes, or not doing the work again, justifying because it feels like I’ve got to go do all this client delivery, when in fact, you’re avoiding the work of business development, avoiding the priority of business development, because you’re not wanting to leave the comfort zone. So I’ll give you an example of this. I had a client who told me he was doing all of the lead generation activities that we had jointly created in his plan, plan of attack his go-to-market plan, and he wasn’t getting the number of leads, you know, was very paltry. Well, this explanation will describe it that way, paltry, wasn’t getting the number of leads that he was expecting out of this process. And as we dug in further, we realized that he was really going through the motions, checking the boxes, talking to people during the day doing a little bit of this work. But he was actually talking to the same people over and over again, he wasn’t branching out into new pockets of potential ideal clients, he wasn’t trying to meet new people, and he wasn’t really executing a robust lead generation approach. He was literally just beaten to death in his existing network hoping they would help him uncover clients. So this is such a good example of feeling like you’re doing the work and feeling frustrated that it’s, you know, not resulting in anything, when in fact, just operating spinning out in this comfort zone and not really taking the action, that’s going to lead to the results. And so with anything, business development doesn’t come naturally to most of us. If it does come naturally to you, you’re probably not listening to this podcast right now. You skip this episode, right. So it’s not something that comes naturally, naturally, it’s not in our comfort zone. And it takes practice and trial and error to build up the muscle. But if you’re firmly planted in this comfort zone, and your pipeline is dry, that’s not going to happen. So look at that for yourself, where are you operating in your comfort zone, and almost just spinning your wheels out, not getting anywhere as a result of that. And then the fourth reason, the root cause of why your pipeline is dry, is what I call a misaligned strategy. And this can be a little bit tricky to explain so so listen carefully here because in some ways, is the opposite of the comfort zone issue that I just described. So let me get us an example to explain this to, I’ll use myself as an example. So early in my independent consulting business, I was working on lead gen, I had invested in this course with this expert guru, who told me and laid out this entire process where it’s like a sequence of I don’t know, seven messages or something to send to my ideal client. It was a process that was very buttoned-down, you could do this in, I don’t know, 30 minutes or an hour a day, it was all very step by step. So it wasn’t a matter of trying to figure it out, it was a matter of executing it. And so as I was doing this each day, I just couldn’t get over the feeling of spam Enos of it, and, and also the feeling of like, just beating around the bush. I love being more direct. And it was just like, I don’t know, seven messages later, just seemed out of alignment. For me. It felt terrible. Every day. It was like an uphill battle. I can’t believe I have to, quote-unquote, have to do this, which I didn’t. But that’s what I was saying to myself. And of course, it wasn’t creating leads. It was a misaligned strategy for me. And that’s what I ultimately realized is that it was an alignment issue, that this method of lead generation wasn’t congruent to me, to me as a person, and where my values are. Now I could go change that if I wanted to and keep going. Or I could figure out where retests do a different method that feels more aligned. But here’s why I said in the beginning when I went into root cause number four is that this is a little bit tricky is that we have to figure out the difference between misalignment and the comfort zone. It could be that, you know, I was pushing outside of my comfort zone by sending these messages. And I needed to move past the comfort zone, right, as I described to in issue number three. But here’s how I know the difference between that being a comfort zone issue and a misalignment issue. And that’s that I tried the strategy all in for 30 days, I wasn’t avoiding the strategy. By avoiding leaving my comfort zone, I left the comfort zone. And I tried it, and I got curious about why I hated it so much. And so from that place, I was able to rule out that it, it wasn’t a comfort zone issue, because I had moved out of my comfort zone wasn’t even a fear of rejection, I got really curious about why I hated that strategy so much and came to the realization and conclusion that it was because it was misalignment. For me, it wasn’t congruent with what I thought was right, what I thought other people would want to hear from me. And so that’s how I realized that, for me, I was suffering from that root cause of misalignment. And so I was able to cross off that lead generation method from the list, and then commit to another lead generation method for another test for 30 days to figure out, how do I get out of the current balance getting out of my comfort zone with a strategy that’s aligned to what feels right to me. So hopefully, that example of my own business can help you to differentiate between where you might be stuck in the comfort zone versus misaligned. And the good news here is that there are so many different ways to generate leads that you can find ones that are aligned with you, it’s going to push you out of your comfort zone. But you don’t have to be doing something that feels horrible every day of your business, you didn’t create a business for that reason, right. So those are the four root causes of why your pipeline is dry, the Sahara Desert. So from here, I’ll just recap them. Number one, you might be thinking that business development is futile, it’s a waste of time. Number two, you could be stalled by fear, fear of rejection, fear of failure, or failing, and then you’re failing ahead of time. Number three, you could very well be stuck in your comfort zone, not pushing the boundary of what you know, and what comes naturally to you. And then number four, you might be executing a strategy and doing the work and not getting the results. Because it’s a misalignment to what your intuition tells you is the right way to go about doing lead generation for you. So those are the four root causes that I see across clients, across people that I talked to who are independent consultants. And so for you really dig in, let’s put this into action. So the way to do that is to get honest with yourself about why you’re not doing the work to generate leads, or why if you’re doing the work and not getting the results, which of these four root causes apply to you. And it can be more than one of them, by the way. And again, there’s no judgment or criticism here, we’re all human right? I share with you that one of these applied to me. And sometimes they still apply to me. But now I know what to look for. And that’s why I wanted to share this episode with you, so you know what to look for. So go figure out exactly what it is that you need to address so that you’re fixing and addressing the real root cause versus trying to create some elaborate calendar solution for this. And what I did do for you is create a shortcut. So I have a 26-minute lead generation process for you, it includes getting into the right mindset to start with, and then what to do exactly and 26 minutes a day to create these consistent pipelines. So check out the link in the show notes for that. And that will also help you put this into action. So get honest with yourself about why you’re not you don’t you’ve got a dry pipeline, and then use that 26-minute lead generation process that you can download from the show notes. The link is in the show notes so that you can go get an overflowing pipeline in place. All right, and then next week, I’ll give you a little teaser. Now that you know what these four underlying root causes of your empty pipeline are, or your withering pipeline, however, you want to describe it. Next week I’m going to share with you in more detail how to overcome these four blockers. So again, it’s not about the calendar or any kind of elegant solution. It’s about overcoming these four root causes. So that’s what we’ll focus on next week. So tune in. Thanks for joining today, and we’ll talk again next week.


Thanks for joining me this week on the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. If you liked today’s episode, I have three quick next steps for you. First, click Subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to make sure you don’t miss future episodes. Next, leave me a review in your podcast app so other independent consultants can find it beneficial too. And finally, to put the ideas from today’s episode into action, head over to Melisaliberman.com for the show notes and more resources to help you grow your consulting practice from your first few projects into a full-fledged business. See you next week.

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