“Traditionally, consulting businesses have little of either [reach & scalability]. Consultants don’t need wide brand awareness or a large audience. They only require a small group of highly targeted individuals and organizations to be aware of their existence and services. Word of mouth is often enough to fill the pipeline for consulting businesses.”
– Rand Fishkin
I’ve been reading Rand Fishkin’s book, Lost & Founder. It’s the story of the founding of SEOmoz, and each page bleeds practicality and plenty of “gah, why didn’t anyone tell me this first” takeaways.
Rand talks a lot about the difference between selling services and selling products, and makes a pretty strong case why products aren’t necessarily right for everyone.
But what really stuck out to me was the above quote, which can be summed up as:
- Product businesses are high-volume, low-revenue. You need to build an audience (a.k.a. generate a ton of leads) in order to make it work.
- Service businesses are low-volume, high-revenue. Since you can only work on so many projects at any given time you should put more focus on building a strong network, rather than building an audience.
In principle, I agree.
Superimposing the audience building and sales tactics that $197 course creators on top of a consulting business rarely works, mostly because hiring a consultant tends to involve a lot more due diligence than an impulse buy product.
However, have you looked at how really successful enterprise product vendors operate?
Enterprise sales teams aren’t driving people to a credit card checkout form, but they are leveraging tried-and-true audience building strategies to acquire leads, qualify them, nurture, and then close the deal.
Because these teams optimize for super high volume (relative to the average freelancer or agency), they don’t regard each lead as being “ready to buy”. They score leads and take into account a lead’s level of awareness.
OK, I promise not to dig too deeply into enterprise sales here.
However, the exact same higher-touch lead generation and nurturing strategies enterprise companies use can be used by you, even if you’re solo. There’s a lot about effective audience building that we can learn from enterprise leaders who have lead generation and nurturing down to a science.
Ready to start playing the long game? I’ve got 3 core truths to start with (that many of us learned the hard way):