Episode 006 – Where to Find Your Ideal Clients

One of the most intimidating aspects of becoming an independent consultant is the fear of not getting any clients. Well, I am here to tell you that finding and signing clients is very possible and it doesn’t have to be a painful and frustrating process. You can fill your pipeline with higher-quality, and more volume of your ideal clients, not just any clients. 

In this episode, I’m going to share a doable, effective, and simple way to find your ideal consulting clients. 

In this episode, we will discuss…

  • [3:53] The Ideal Independent Consulting Client Quadrant
  • [05:03] Quadrant #1
  • [12:16] Quadrant #2
  • [16:34] Quadrant #3
  • [18:00] Homework



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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 to the podcast. Today we’re going to talk about where are your ideal consulting clients. I want to demystify this for you so that you’re finding your ideal client, not just any clients, and also help you troubleshoot why you might not be finding them yet. Or you might know where to find them but aren’t actually following through. So those are the really big focuses of today’s episode. And the process I’m going to share with you today is very, very simple and very effective. If you’re able to avoid the common traps I will share them with you. First, I just want to share, you know, I used to think there was an exact right way to find clients a secret to finding the best consulting clients like someone else knew where they were and how to get in touch with them. The best process the best automation, the best tool, and I didn’t know all of those things, especially coming into consulting, not having been a bag-carrying salesperson, if you will. But what I found after really diving into this work over the last almost nine years is that this is truly my brain’s way of protecting me from fear of rejection, fear of failure, and fear of inadequacy. And it kept me in that research mode, that analysis, paralysis mode, that mode of listening to webinars, quite frankly, the mode of listening to podcasts, a lot of consuming of information, right but not actually taking action because I didn’t feel like I knew enough to get started. At the same time, it made me feel really productive. Because I was doing something I was learning, I was thinking that I was gaining all of these skills, when in fact, I was just accumulating a lot of information that I wasn’t actually putting into practice because it never felt like enough. And as a result, I really wasn’t doing anything that would actually result in prospective consulting clients, I was just filling up a lot of notebooks. And you might be in that same zone when you’re here listening to the podcast today, which I am completely appreciative of. And I’m going to give you some action items at the end to go take and that’s really the difference here is consuming the information, and then taking action against it, versus feeling like oh, I need to go find more information in order to be successful at finding my ideal clients. So with that personal story in mind, let’s dive into today, we’re going to talk about a doable, effective, and simple ways to find your ideal consulting clients, you might already be finding some and so this is going to help you find more, fill up your pipeline with higher quality and more volume of ideal clients. But if you don’t yet have a pipeline, which a lot of you who I talked to don’t, because you either have never created one or it’s empty at the moment, this is a really, really good way to get started. So in more detail, we’re going to cover a concept that is a version of a Magic Quadrant for you to find where to find prospective clients. And then we’re going to talk about the reasons why you might not be using those concepts already. And then how to overcome those reasons so that you can start building or rebuilding that pipeline. So let’s dive into the Magic Quadrant. So what I would love for you to do is to draw a plus sign if you have a paper in front of you just draw a plus sign so that you’ve got four quadrants. And on the bottom axis, you’re going to write they know me. And on the side axis, you’re going to write they have or know someone who has a problem myself. So those are the two axes. And if you’re visual like me, I’ve actually drawn this out for you on the episode art. So in your podcast app, you’ll see the episode art. And the picture that I just described to you is right there so you can see it there too.


So now you’ve got these four squares, with basically two lines on them how well they know Me is on the bottom, and they have the problem or know someone who does have the problem that I solve. And then you’re just going to put in three numbers. In the top right is a one in the top left is a two and in the bottom right is a three and in the bottom left is nothing. We don’t want to go into that quadrant. And I’ll tell you why here in a minute. So in quadrant number one, which is the top right quadrant, this is really the intersection of people who know you the best. So it’s your warmest audience. It could be a neighbor, it could be a former co-worker, it could be someone you’ve met, you know, and kept in touch with from an industry conference, it doesn’t matter kind of the where they came from. But it’s those categories of people who know you well. And then at the same time, the intersection of they also have a problem, the problem or a problem that you solve, or perhaps they know, someone who has the problem that you solve that number one over in the top right, is really the key starting point. So I’ll just call that number one quadrant number one, that’s really the low-hanging fruit, if you will, it seems obvious, right? It’s the people you know, and the people who either know or know people who are connected to people who have a problem that you solve. That’s incredibly obvious. However, what I noticed is that most of my clients haven’t tapped into this quadrant, especially before we’ve started working together, or even other independent consultants that I talked to haven’t tapped into this quadrant. And so the reason why they give me and you might relate to this to a couple of examples I’ll give you like, number one, they feel like they need to save that type of an individual, reserve them, save them or reserve them, because they’re not quite ready yet, quote, unquote, to talk to them, they don’t feel confident, or they don’t feel like their messages per what’s wrong with me today. thing, it’s hard, I’m formulating, formulating words. And that’s important to do when you’re recording a podcast. Stay with me. The reason why you haven’t talked to these people yet in quadrant number one could be that you are feeling like you need to reserve that conversation for when you’re better at it when you’re more confident when you’re more skilled at what you’re going to say. Another reason is, that you feel like you’ve talked to haven’t talked to them recently, or feeling guilty, overnights, and regretful over not cultivating the relationship. And you don’t want to reach out to start talking with them and re-engaging in that relationship because you feel like they’re going to think it’s self-serving. Another reason I hear frequently as to why you might not have talked to people in quadrant number one is that you assume they don’t have a need right now, you may be talking to them periodically, and are assuming that they don’t have a need right now when I dig into this, and my clients tell me this, they don’t actually know, you probably don’t know, either. You’re making an assumption. You know, I’ll give you an example of this, I had a client who was building his pipeline. And at first, when we were talking through it, he told me that he had talked to everyone in quadrant one, like that was exhausted, his network was exhausted. The people that he knew that might have the problem that he solves were exhausted, all of it was, in his mind, he had talked to all of them. And so as we started peeling back the onion, we realize he hadn’t talked to all of them, number one, and number two, he hadn’t talked to all of them recently. And so as he started engaging in that work, it turns out that his neighbor, who he just happened to run into when he was getting the mail knew someone who was looking for a consultant who does the exact work that he does. So he hadn’t exhausted all of the people in that quadrant. And we’ll talk more about why that might have been in a minute as well. But it boils down to fear of rejection, right? Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of truly exhausting the pipeline, and in that you have nowhere else to go. I mean, that’s what it boils down to. Okay, so that’s an example of the situation where you just haven’t simply talked to people in quadrant one. Also in quadrant one. Another thing that really illustrates that you haven’t truly engaged with those individuals is that you’ve talked to them, but they don’t actually know what you do. You might have talked to them, but you threw a lot of words at them, like the kitchen sink, because you were feeling intimidated or awkward or just weren’t sure what to say. And so they don’t actually know what you do or how they could help you. When I was in consulting, this reminds me of a story. When I was in consulting at that point, my fiance, who’s now my husband, and I was working at Accenture, we were working on ERP migrations, and one of my roles was to write the logic for the data migrations. So for a very long time, he told people that I might grade data, which wasn’t even true because I’m not a DBA or anything like that. But that’s the only word that he kind of latched on to. So for you, for the people in quadrant one, do they actually know what you do? Beyond maybe just kind of a phrase? And then if they do, do they also know how they could help you? Who would be the ideal client to introduce you to? What would it trigger be when they hear something that Oh, my friend, so and so are my acquaintance. So and so are my colleagues so and so former colleagues, so and so help people with that, really getting to that place where you’ve enabled them to help you? So that in a nutshell, it’s very simple, right? We want to talk to the people in quadrant one. Those are the people who know us best, who are the warmest, and who either have the problem we solve or know people who have the problem we solve. And the goal is to go talk to those people at the end of the day. But first, figure out why haven’t you talked to them? Why haven’t you talked to all of them? Number one, what is the root cause of that?


Are you feeling like you’re not ready yet? Then what will it take to get ready? And believe me, it’s not a website, it’s literally you spending 30 minutes sitting down and figuring out how do I describe what I do in layman’s terms in a way that connects with other people? And then how could it be very clear for me to describe to them how they could help me who they could connect to me what type of problems I solve, that would be a trigger for them to say, Oh, my friend, so and so does that my former colleague, so and so does that. It’s as simple as that, figuring out who are the people in quadrant one? Why are you avoiding them right now? And if you’re not avoiding them, what are you not saying that needs to be more clear. So they know think of you immediately when they come across someone with the problem you solve, get your talk track together, don’t waste a bunch of time doing a bunch of other getting ready activities, it can be as simple as that, and then go talk to them repeatedly, consistently. So that’s quadrant number one, let’s dive in quickly into quadrant number two. So again, if you’re looking at your matrix, or at the episode art that I created, so you can see the vision that I’m talking about, these are the people that might not know you, as well, but they have the problem, or they know the people who have the problem that you solve. So for example, for me, when I was consulting, I was working with SAS startup companies helping them scale. And so getting really cultivating relationships with people in private equity was a very good kind of group of people, for me to meet, and to get to know and for them to understand what I could do. They were people who didn’t know me, or maybe knew me through somewhat, you know, through a second connection, or whatever. But they did know the people that had the problem that I solved. And so that’s an example of what would be in quadrant number one. And so all it simply means is meeting people that you might already be connected to that you just don’t know, well. So you might already be connected to them. And LinkedIn, for example, or connected in the real world through someone that you both know, that’s what this means into quadrant number two people wherever they hang out that has the problem that you solve, whether it’s on LinkedIn, or in some industry associations, or in networking groups, or I mean, I could list off all the places right, or, and I should say, What it also means is you going out and meeting new people as well, that fit into this quadrant, people who have the problem or know people who have the problem that you solve. So it can be as simple as quadrant number one. Again, this isn’t rocket science, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already. commonsensical Lee has that word. But what I do want to point out to you is why you’re not doing it, because that’s really at the heart of this right? The blockers of why you’re not engaging in quadrant number two, and potentially also in quadrant number one, are things like thinking that you’re an introvert, and somehow you don’t have the right genes in order to do this, thinking that you don’t know what to do. Like, I’m not sure what to say, I’m not sure how this process works. Thinking that you don’t want to you don’t have the time. This is just not something I have time for. Or my message isn’t perfected, or I touched on this a minute ago. I don’t have a website that isn’t ready yet, or I don’t have a specific process that I want to use with them or I don’t have an elevator pitch like whatever the things are that feel very logical and feel like this. You know, I need to get all my ducks in a row first before I start having these conversations. or kind of to my earlier, you know the story that I shared with you at the very beginning, you’re listening to a lot of and consuming a lot of information, but not taking action. All that is, is not you going through a logical process to get ready. It’s you making excuses to keep yourself in your comfort zone. Your brain is designed to avoid rejection, avoid feeling like a failure, and avoid the dreaded conclusion that you’re not enough. And this will never work for you. By I have to point out to you today that these are excuses. These are not facts that you’re an introvert, and therefore you can’t do this or that you don’t have enough time, you can make the time 30 minutes a day to go meet new people and fill up your pipeline. So really dig into this and figure out for yourself, what is your own blocker? Where are you making an excuse for yourself that keeps you in that comfort zone, to avoid the failure, feeling like a failure, avoid the feeling like you’re,


you know that you’re not good enough at doing this and will never succeed. Because these are not facts. These are not, this is not something that you’re missing. Genetically, it’s just that you don’t have this muscle strengthened yet. And that’s all it is, are you learn a new skill to be the person who is the CEO and business owner, which is part of the job that you have. Now as an independent consultant, you need to exercise the skills required to fill your pipeline, all you need are these first two quadrants, we don’t even need to talk about quadrant number three, you don’t need it. You might dabble in there occasionally that people you know really well. But if they don’t know someone who has the problem that you solve, then there’s not as much of a point as you talking to people in quadrant one or quadrant two, or at least figuring out which quadrant they go in. So really get honest with yourself about why you’re not doing this what you’re afraid of. And believe me, we’re all afraid of things, I’m not I’m not sitting here telling you that I’m not that I don’t think of myself as an introvert as well. And this doesn’t come naturally to me either. But I do know how to manage my mind around it to get into that CEO, business owner mindset, and to start embracing this process of finding people who could be potential consulting clients. So essentially my friends the exercise for today is for you to find those and build out your pipeline. And if this doesn’t give you enough to go off of quadrants one and quadrants two, then I highly recommend that you download a free ebook that I’ve created. It’s the 27 ways to land a new client. And it gives you examples that fit all three quadrants. So you can use those as inspiration of places that you might not have thought of, or people types of people you might not have thought of, to go out and talk to, to fill out your pipeline of prospective consulting clients. So I’m going to finish off with today saying, please go put this into action. Figure out your quadrants, who are in quadrant one, who’s in quadrant two, or what type of people are in quadrant two? Where are they located? Are they in industry groups? Are they in networking groups? Are they on LinkedIn, that you can find them on using Sales Navigator, whatever they mean, there are 50 different ways, right, or 27, at least go download that ebook, to figure out where the people are, that are in quadrant one and quadrant two? And then give yourself a routine of going out and talking to them and know that you’re going to be bad at it at first, either because you haven’t done it in a while or you’ve never done it. And that’s okay. You’re not going to you know, somehow miraculously be amazing at it by listening to podcasts like mine, or listening to a bunch of webinars or reading a bunch of blogs, or buying a bunch of books from Amazon. How you’re going to strengthen this muscle is by taking this kind of simple approach that I’m sharing with you. And then going out and trying it, putting it into action and refining and refining and refining until you have a really solid routine that you know results in leads into your pipeline. All right, thanks for listening today. Go put this into action. And I will talk with 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 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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