Episode 023 – The 3 Most Common Lead Generation Mistakes Causing You to Underearn As A Consultant

For most independent consultants, lead generation feels hard, time-consuming and slow.

But lead generation doesn’t have to be a struggle. 
The truth is that there’s more visibility and access to potential clients than ever before. 
So why are so many independent consultants struggling to drive in qualified, converting leads? If you’ve struggled with lead generation, there is a high possibility that you’re falling into the trap of one or more of the three most common consulting lead generation mistakes.
In this episode,

  • I’ll help you diagnose why you don’t have any (or as many) leads as you need to sustain and grow your IC practice
  • You’ll learn to identify the three mistakes in your consulting practice
  • You’ll understand the impact of each mistake you’re making and
  • You’ll uncover how to avoid the mistakes going forward

[05:01] Mistake #1 
[10:52] Mistake #2
[15:32] Mistake #3

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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.


Today on the podcast, we’re talking about the three most common consulting lead generation mistakes that could be causing you to underearn. So I can’t wait to dive into these three mistakes with you today. First, I want to just share a personal story that actually does relate to the mistakes. I told you last week, if you are listening that my six-year-old started kindergarten, I am what they call a geriatric mom. That’s horrible, isn’t it? I was told that by a doctor anyway, that’s a different point. The point is that my six-year-old started kindergarten. And before he went to kindergarten a few weeks ago, he told me that he’s really bad at making friends and he won’t have any friends in kindergarten. And pretty much it was all going to be horrible. So that was really sad and kind of broke my heart a little bit. And he seemed to be kind of really resistant to going to kindergarten as a result of this. Well, anyway, I’m happy to report that he had four days of kindergarten and he’s already got a new best friend. So obviously, his idea about not being able to make friends I knew was not true and didn’t come true for him. And it made me think of you because as we get started on today’s podcast, talking about lead generation, it’s never as bad as we think it is right? He thought kindergartener was going to be horrible. And literally the first day he made a friend, he couldn’t remember the friend’s name. But he figured that out later in the week, right? Like, it’s never as bad as we start making it out to be. And once we get started, then you know, things start rolling. And so that’s what I want to share with you today. Lead Generation is kind of like going to kindergarten, it sounds horrible. It might feel horrible to you. Like most of us, as consultants, we don’t think that’s our forte. But once you get started, get the ball rolling and figure out what works for you. It can be really exciting, really something you love to do, or at least palatable, let’s go with palatable if you’re really resistant to it. Okay. So with that, let’s talk about today, those three most common lead generation mistakes that I see other independent consultants making, so that we can figure out if you’re making those mistakes, and then what to do about it if you are, because at the end of the day, if you’re not executing on lead generation, one of two things is happening. You’re either having gaps in between clients, and therefore gaps in your revenue, and creating that feast or famine cycle, or you’re settling for work that does not work that’s at the level that you’re capable of. And therefore you’re not getting paid at the level that you’re capable of. So that’s why this is so important, I want to make sure that we really dive into your lead generation and figure out what’s going on so that you can start to remedy it. Alright, so I want to help you diagnose why you don’t have any, or as many leads as you need to sustain and grow your independent consulting practice. And if you’ve been following along for the last couple of weeks, I’m really diving into my double method that helps independent consultants double their revenue without working more. And so today, we’re focused on you have the double method, uncovering your ideal client leads. So episodes, 21 and 22, focused on the DEA and they owe the first two parts of the double method. So if you haven’t yet caught those, go back and listen to them. But stick with me for now, you don’t need to have heard those before we dive into today’s topic, okay. So with that, what we’re going to cover today are the three most common mistakes that are causing you to underearn as it relates to lead generation, the impact of each of those mistakes, how to know you’re making the mistake, and then what to do if you are, right. So super straightforward. We’re going to go through each of the mistakes in-depth, so you’ll know what it is and be able to figure out if you’re making it and then what to do next. So that ultimately you have that lead generation process in place. And you’ve got the beginnings of your business development, right. Business Development starts with leads having leads. So that’s why we’re so focused on this today. All right. So first mistake that I see independent consultants making. And I’ve done this myself. So I’m right there with you. I don’t do it anymore. But I’ve been there. So I understand it. The mistake is being dependent, having dependency as your lead generation strategy. So what does that mean dependency as a strategy? Simply put, it’s basically you relying on other people or other companies to bring you business.


So the most common way I see ICS doing this is by relying on recruiters to bring them, let’s just be honest, their contract jobs, most of the time, their contractor jobs, they’re not consultant jobs, or you rely on a marketplace or an agency, or maybe just your immediate network to bring you referrals. That’s dependency as a lead generation strategy. And the number one mistake I see other independent consultants making. So let me give you a couple of caveats to this. Number one, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t leverage recruiters or marketplaces or your immediate network. Of course, those are great sources of leads. However, when you’re dependent on those, then you get into a situation where you’re settling for work that is less than you’re capable of, and then you end up underearning. That’s what I’m talking about. So really hear that nuance as we go through this process. I leverage marketplaces, sometimes, for certain corporate clients that I work with marketplaces, recruiters, agencies, and your immediate network, those are not a problem, it becomes a problem when you depend on them for your business. And you don’t have a process of your own that you can go out and create leads with. All right. So with that being said, let’s talk about why is being dependent a problem. I’m just gonna put it straight out to you, you’re a business owner, you’re not a contractor, you’re not a consultant, solely a consultant, you own a business. And successful business owners are able to market and sell and deliver their work because they’re in command of their business. This is one of the key ingredients for you to build a sustainable, successful long-term business where you don’t become that statistic. You’ve probably heard it, give or take after 10 years or so only 30% of small businesses remain. And I think that’s generous. So you have the ability to create your own leads, and not be dependent on other organizations and other people to create leads for you is critical to the long the short and long term success of your business. So how do you know if you’re making this mistake? It’s probably pretty evident, right? Either you’re relying on people to bring business to you or you’re not but let like dive in a little bit deeper than that. Did I don’t know if that was the right grammar? Speaking of grammar, the other day, I sent out an email that was talking about subsiding instead of subsisting. And that’s still on my mind. We make mistakes, right? Not a problem. Okay. So let’s go back to understanding if you’re making this mistake of depending using dependence as your lead generation strategy, look back, and do an audit. Where do your clients come from? Are you able to go find and land clients? Kind of on-demand? Or are you waiting for people to bring opportunities to you just look back and do the math for yourself? Another way to look at this is to ask yourself a very powerful question. On a scale of one to 10. How confident do you feel that you could create a new lead without relying on someone else to do it for you? And why did you pick that number? Really look yourself in the mirror and say, am I being dependent on other people as my primary lead generation strategy? If you are, it’s something to address. Again, we’re not judging you here, right. It’s something to address. I’ve done it in the past myself. We’re not judging you here. We’re here to help you grow your independent consulting business. And this is a really great place to dive in if you are using dependency as a strategy. So if you are making this mistake, let’s just go back to the basics. Ask yourself so that you can take command of your lead generation. To create leads for yourself, give yourself the challenge to go create two or three leads in the next month or so. Ask yourself where’s my ideal client? Where’s that? What’s the best way to move them. Lead Generation is as simple as meeting them meeting those ideal clients in some form or fashion could be in person could be virtual could be in an event. I mean, take what I’m saying here, very broadly meet those ideal clients understand their pain points, and make offers to help them address the pain points. It could be a micro offer, right?


Hey, I’d love to come in and do an assessment for you. Or more of a macro offer, let’s do a discovery phase. To create a statement of work, whatever it is, or another micro offer, let’s have another meeting, right? So that’s the mistake number one, using dependency as your lead generation strategy, how to know if you’re doing it and what to do if you are number two mistake number two, you’re lacking a predictable lead generation plan. So what is a lead generation plan? It’s like having the big picture I like to look at it for 12 months at least if not 18? What is the big picture look like for my lead generation? Oftentimes, I’ll first fill it in with maybe conferences or events like big picture events, right, that are planned well in advance, and use those as the first pieces of the cornerstone of a lead generation plan. And then build out that plan from a big picture perspective, month by month, and then look at it in more detail like what is my lead generation process? daily, weekly, monthly, whatever it is, depending on what kind of lead generation activities you have. You make plans all the time, you’re a consultant, I don’t need to tell you how to make a plan. But if you’re like most consultants, you don’t have a plan for your lead generation is kind of like flying by the seat of your pants, or doing it when you have to. And what I’m saying to you is, that this needs to be a predictable, proactive lead generation plan. And it needs to have metrics. How many leads for example, do you need in order to hit your revenue goal for the year? And his measurements? How do you measure the effectiveness of your lead generation plan, use a plan just like you do with your clients, I’m sure your consulting clients put that in place in your business as well.


For lead generation specifically. So that’s what the plan is. So why is not having a problem. This is what creates the feast or famine cycle. This is what most independent consultants do, you get so heads down in your current project, thinking you’re going to have plenty of time to find the next project when this one’s closer to the end. And then what happens is one of two things, either you don’t give yourself enough lead time, or your heads down for so long. And then when you come up for air, you have a week left or two weeks left, and there’s not enough lead time for you to create the leads and convert them to client projects, or your project gets abruptly canceled or your number of hours is cut, or your scope is cut, you end up creating a gap in revenue for yourself. Or you create a situation where you’re underearning. Maybe it’s no revenue, but it’s less revenue than you’re capable of creating. That’s why not having a plan is a problem. And it shouldn’t have to sell to you needing a plan, right? That’s what you do. As a consultant, you always have a plan for your clients. Why don’t you have one for yourself for your lead generation? Maybe you do, but you’re probably like most independent consultants, and you don’t have one? Or if you do, you’re not following it. And that’s what I’m here to remind you of today. So, obviously, how do you know if you’re making this mistake? Ask yourself, Do I have a plan for lead generation specifically, it’s a pretty straightforward way to know if you if you’re making this mistake or not. But I will leave you with that. I’ll dive in a little bit more for you. Is the plan on paper or in your head? If you do have a plan? For most consultants it’s usually in their head. It’s like the what did they say the emperor has no clothes. I think I butchered that. But you know what I mean? Like the cobbler has no shoes, that’s a better one. The cobbler has no shoes. You go out and make plans for your clients, but then you don’t have one for yourself. Is your plan too passive? Is it kind of you know, oh, I’ll figure this out when I just in time, right? When Justin time is never enough time to actually go through a full lead generation process that creates high-quality clients that pay you what you’re worth, where you can make an impact, level of impact you’re capable. So look at yourself in the mirror and say Do I have a plan? Is it on paper? Am I committed to it? Is it too passive? I’m going to create the results that map back to my goals for the year, revenue-wise. And so if you don’t have those things in place, in order to remedy this mistake, go make yourself a plan. I gave you a lot of the elements of it, calendar it, set check-ins with yourself, with your team, with your coach to assess your progress against the plan, and then run that as you would any other project. Okay, mistake number three, you haven’t developed your business development mindset. So what is a business development mindset? Here’s what I see most independent consultants doing, which is preventing them from reaching the level of revenues and impact that they want, that they know they’re capable of, or think they might be capable of. The mistake is that you see yourself as someone who’s good at delivering for clients, but bad at business development, that you’re bad at selling, that you’re bad at marketing, that it’s not your core skill. You see yourself as someone who is lacking the personality to be good at business development. You see yourself as someone who lacks the genes, somehow to be good at sales and marketing, to be good at business development. If you see yourself in this way, like it’s somehow a crutch, that you’ve got to lean on that it’s a burden to bear, that it’s something you’ll never be good at. But you have to do it anyway. You’re not going to reach your potential, you’re going to continue to be dependent on other people to bring you leads and you’re going to underearn.


The mistake is that you see yourself as someone who’s not good at business development. It’s not a fact that you’re not good at business development is a way that you see yourself. And believe me, if you think that this is kind of Hocus Pocus, you know, like, either you’re good or you’re not good at business development, like go look at all that data points to prove one way or the other. I’m here to tell you that that’s not the case. I’m here to tell you that I went from incorporate at one point, I’ve told you the story before if you’ve heard it, at one point, the CEO called me sales repellent. Because I would go as a subject matter expert on sales calls. And like, correct the salesperson when he wasn’t articulating the process as accurately as I would have expected. He called me sales repellent. And I’m not saying you should embellish or you need to embellish or exaggerate in order to move off of a sales repelling zone into someone who’s good at business development. But what you do need to do is build yourself into the identity of someone who’s a master at business development, as someone who’s a master at marketing and sales. I have gotten not because of any permission anyone gave me. But I’ve been able to transform my own identity from sales repellent, which I believed into thinking of myself as a business development master. My genetics didn’t change my family is cattle ranchers, they’re not selling anything beyond, you know, calling one guy to whatever, however, my dad does it, right. It’s such a different process than what we’re talking about here. No one gave me permission to start thinking of myself as a master, I just decided, You know what, it’s going to be much more in my best interest to think of myself as a business development master than as someone who’s terrible at it, who’s repel it. And as you begin to build up that mindset, and that identity, you’re able to think and take action accordingly. And release yourself from these terrible thoughts that you have about yourself and your ability to be effective at lead generation, marketing, sales at business development, whatever you want to call it. So that is the mistake. You don’t see yourself as someone who is good at business development. And if you don’t see yourself as someone who’s good at business development, then, of course, you’re not going to do it. You’re going to procrastinate, you’re going to delay you’re going to abdicate to other people. And then you’re going to under earn and you’re going to continue to focus on being the doer and not the business owner. So that’s why this is so important to get yourself into the place where you feel and think and see yourself as Someone who’s a master at business development. Now, does that mean that you need to go from, you know like I did from sales repellants to feeling like a master? Immediately? Absolutely not. In fact, I didn’t, it was like a little incremental in between the way oh, maybe I can figure out how to create a lead a start there. Maybe I can figure out how to convert a lead into a discovery project sale. Not a multimillion-dollar sale to start. But you know what, like a 30k statement of work each little step along the way, as you get more practice, as you get more skill and experience, you’re able to start thinking and feeling like that master that you need to be in order to grow your practice to where it is that you know you’re capable of. So how do you know if you’re making the mistake of not having a developed business development mindset? How do you know if you’re making the mistake that you’re thinking of yourself in a way that doesn’t lead you to create the leads and the sales that you need to sustain and grow your business? The way you know, if you’re making them this mistake, and to be honest with you, almost every consultant is so you could just assume that you are if you’re not sure, but let’s just figure out to what degree you’re making this mistake. And believe me, I’m not I haven’t conquered this forever, either myself. So ask yourself to what degree do you rate yourself on a scale of one to 10 as a marketer? And why? When do I say marketers, someone who creates leads? Who creates awareness for your business? The polls potential clients to you on a scale of one to 10? How do you rate yourself as a salesperson and why?


Overall, on a scale of one to 10? How do you rate yourself in terms of business development, and why? Again, this isn’t an exercise to criticize ourselves. This is an exercise to figure out where you’re at with your mindset as it relates to you as a business owner, as it relates to you as someone who can create and drive business and revenue for yourself. And then it will help you to identify where your work is. And so if you’re making this mistake, you don’t have a fully developed mindset, where you see yourself as a Master of Business Development, then I’m going to give you a really simple fix for this. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. You have to purposefully change your self-identity, you have to start seeing yourself as a business owner, you have to start seeing yourself, as someone who’s a master at marketing and sales and lead generation and closing sales. This is the difference between you being a contractor and relying on other people. And under-earning to you being a powerful business owner of a consulting business, a business of one where you’re delivering project work to people and being compensated accordingly. So it’s working on that self-identity, like I described to you going from sales repellent, to master to someone who’s in command of your business development process, such that you know exactly how and when and, and most effectively, how to create leads for your business, and ultimately close some percentage of those. So I know that sounds kind of big, I’m telling you to go change your personal self-identity is kind of big. And it’s kind of nebulous, right? So I’ll give you a couple of simple steps towards this. Ask yourself every day, how am I already great at business development? Or whatever the term is that you want to use? Right? How am I great at creating leads for my business? And then look for evidence to build up this view of yourself. Because if you leave your brain to its own devices, you’re going to be looking consciously and subconsciously, for how you’re terrible at business development. And you’ll continue to find evidence for that. So we’re purposefully looking for evidence of how are you already good at business development? How are you already great at business development? How are you good at creating leads without depending? How are you good at closing those leads on to meet someone? Ask yourself those types of questions to start building up that identity. All right. This was a little on the longer side, but there are so many important things for you to look at here within your business so that you can generate those leads, and ultimately be in command of your business and the amount of revenue you’re driving and the schedule by which you’re working to deliver against that revenue. Right. So let’s wrap it up. Do you see three how these three mistakes can be holding you back from achieving that impact that fulfillment, that revenue that you want in your consulting business? Hopefully, you can see where you might be making one or probably all three of these mistakes in some ways. Go pick one of them, and work on it. Honestly, the easiest one to work on at all times is your business development mindset. Pick that one, and then make a plan for yourself. Mistake number two, so that you’re not dependent on other people, which is mistake number three, right? Okay, so I’m so glad you’ve joined me for today. If you want help figuring out how to really apply, understand if you’re making these mistakes, and then apply the strategies that I gave you to overcome the mistakes, then reach out to me and apply for a strategy call, and we could dive into your business really get a better understanding of where you’re at what your goals are, and what’s keeping you from was standing in your way from reaching those goals and continuing to grow both, you know, in your business as well as professionally. So we will put the link to that call in the show notes. And I look forward to seeing you 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 benefit to and finally 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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