Module 4: Develop an Automated System
At this point, you might be tempted to jump right in and start contacting local businesses to try to make a sale. This is where many consultants fail because they don’t have a clear plan of what they will actually offer to the clients. It is extremely important to write down exactly what you can (and cannot) offer. Then, figure out HOW you will deliver those results.
Automation is the key to your success and quick scaling. This means developing a system that will allow you to maximize your time, minimize wasted expenses, and allow you to quickly scale upwards to earn more profit for yourself.
There are many ways you can automate the consulting business, and it can range from using a simple spreadsheet to developing special software. Consultants will get the most out of their business by using a variety of tools that can be inexpensive yet effective.
When you contact local businesses to offer your services, you can use a checklist to gather all the information required and make sure you don’t forget something. This is a simple tool that will allow you to standardize what you ask and even allow for outsourcing, in the future.
You should also create an automated sales funnel that works day and night to build a list of leads interested in your services. This should include a landing page to gather contact information, basic information on what you offer, and a thank you page to help warm up your leads. Once this funnel has been set up and gets traffic, you should start to see an increase in interest for your services.
Apart from automating the process of getting your own leads and sales, it is a good idea to have a system for delivering the services you promise to your clients.
Let’s go back to the customer retention and loyalty consultant example.
The service you offer to clients would be increased repeat sales from existing customers and increased referrals from existing customers. To do this, there are two main focuses that can be effective.
Special offers and coupons: To get someone to come back through the door to make a non-essential purchase can be challenging but is much easier when you give a coupon or discount. Create a system that automatically sends a coupon to customers after they make a purchase offering a certain percent off their next visit.
Ask for referrals: One of the most powerful ways of getting new customers is by getting an endorsement from an existing customer. Would you be more likely to try a new restaurant if a family member came back raving about it? You’d be more likely to try it than if you just happened to see a billboard. You can harness this power by giving out cards to customers that specifically ask to refer a friend or leave a review on the website.
The best of both worlds is to use a loyalty program app that creates a list of customers in one database and gives away rewards in exchange for simple tasks like sharing on social media, referring friends, or taking a survey. The idea is that you can incentivize simple tasks, such as sending out a quick Tweet or giving feedback on the company, that will engage the customers and ultimately help to increase sales.
If you do not have the technical knowledge to support your clients directly, or simply don’t have the time to do it all yourself, you can choose to outsource all or some of the work. This is a business model that can be successfully run using outsourcers or contractors, but you must have tight control of their work and be able to find the best people. There is nothing worse than to deliver content to your client, after they have paid a considerable amount of money, and find out that they are not satisfied with the quality.
Before you get your first client, you must find and vet whoever you plan on using as a contractor. Make sure they are available readily by either email, phone, or skype, and are able to work on the timelines that you require. If you promise to deliver something to your client in 7 days, you need to know the contractor can do the work in 5 days or less, so you have time to review ad make and necessary changes.
Another point to consider is what happens if the client is not satisfied with the work or needs something revised. Will the contractor make changes for free or is that an added expense? What is the turnaround time on make changes or adding scope to the project? As long as you are aware of these answer, you should be able to do well using an outsourcer.
There are many sites like Freelancer.com and oDesk.com that make it easy to find outsourcers for any type of online marketing or design work. Take your time to get as many responses as possible before selecting the freelancer that is most qualified and is reasonably priced. Feel free to test their skills to verify their credentials and make sure their language skills are up to par, which is especially important if you are looking for a writer.
Another option is to find local contractors in your particular area that you can work face-to-face with. They may be more expensive than outsourcing overseas, but you will have more control by being able to have meetings and discuss exactly what you need. Many times, you can find qualified college grads (or even high school students) that have excellent technical skills and are looking for some extra money. Place some ads in the local newspaper, use Craigslist, and post some flyers at a local college to get some interest in the position.
Once you have a contractor or outsourcer ready to perform the work, set up strict guidelines for what you require (turn-around time, pay, quality of work, etc) and how you will contact them. You can use email or a file sharing site, but be clear in what you require so that they can effectively support you, so that you, in turn, can support your client.
Next, we will discuss how to launch your consulting business and start making money!