6 Steps to Getting Your First Consulting Contract

In 2014, companies spent $42.4 billion on training according to The Training Industry Report. After locking 34 international consulting contracts this year, I can attest to the fact that solopreneurs and lifestyle entrepreneurs have the opportunity to add significant income through paid consulting at companies. The opportunity is there, you may just not have known how to find it.

Getting a company to hire you and give you a consulting contract may test the limits of your comfort zone. You wonder if you’re qualified to approach a company. When you think about the details, you get frustrated because you’re not sure how to build a consulting business.

My first business was a service company in the bread industry. My second business is a lifestyle business that involves a good deal of paid consulting with companies all over the world. How I book contracts is not a mystery and you probably have the skills and knowledge to land deals. Here are six steps to building a lucrative and freedom based consulting part of your lifestyle business.

1. Make a list of your areas of expertise.

To get the contract, you have to understand what areas you could possibly train on. Tap into your experiences to see what you enjoy and are knowledgeable about. Write those areas down somewhere. List as many as you can come up with.

Once you have this list, start to see how you can combine topics. Look for a “core” topic that could cover several of the ones you listed. Companies want to see that you’re an expert at a main topic. Your website, social media presence, and email list need to show your expertise in a topic if a company is going to hire you. Get clarity and demonstrate what you can consult a company on.

2. Start with targeting companies where you live.

I have consulting contracts to train at companies in 34 countries this year. But, my first contract was in my former hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You want to start locally because there’s a good chance you have a connection with a local company. Also, you can show a local company that you’re part of the community and are committed to doing good work.

Look for small to midsize companies. These companies should do at least $15 million dollars a year in revenue. Anything smaller than that and they might not be able to afford your services. Think outside the box. Car dealerships, local gyms, grocery stores, manufacturing companies, and a bunch of other local options. There are some good opportunities in local consulting and you’ll get the references you need to pitch large and international companies.

3. Get a meeting with the owner or a decision maker.

Another reason to start locally is that you have to talk to someone who can make the deal. Chances are, you aren’t going to make deals with Fortune 500 companies when you start out. But, you can get a consulting contract at a local restaurant or factory.

After you’ve identified your areas of expertise, research nearby companies to determine which has a problem costing them money that you know how to solve. Tell the owner that you want to show them how they’re losing money. Ask for a quick 20-minute meeting over coffee. The way that you get this meeting is by showing the company’s need and that you are an expert in your topic.

4. Prove your fee is worth it to solve the problem.

When you get the meeting, show up and prove you know what you’re talking about. Your research is a big part of proving why you should get the contract. Don’t show up with a lot of promises but no content. This meeting is to prove you can help this company stop losing money. Prove it.

Look up research online and get hard numbers. Show how hiring you will save and make the company more money over the long run. Do this in a brief as possible way. Business owners are busy, so keep the fluff out of your pitch.

5. Make it legal and deliver.

If there’s one thing you take away from this article, it’s to always get a contract. Getting a contract is business 101, but too many entrepreneurs are too trusting. Pay a lawyer to draw up a contract that lays out what you will do and what you’re getting paid for. Once the contract is signed, get to work. Again, GET a contract. I can’t emphasize that enough.

6. Get a referral, a reference, and scale.

The first contract is always the hardest, but if you deliver value, that business owner will recommend you to other businesses owners. Make sure they’re happy with your work and ask for referrals and a reference. Companies know that a testimonial can be made up. They look for references to validate you and your work. They want a name, email address, and phone number from other consulting gigs that you have done. They will follow up.

These are the steps, but they’re meaningless if you don’t take action. This week, identify some companies where you live that you can approach. Figure out what problem you can solve at these companies and how much your time is worth. Get a meeting and prove why you’re the best consultant for the contract.

This can be your primary business or a nice additional revenue stream. You can travel the world while getting to help amazing companies be more efficient. Don’t let mindset traps or self-limiting beliefs convince you that this isn’t possible. You’ll never know until you try. All a company can do is say NO. If they do, move on until you get that YES.

Hey entrepreneurs, speakers, consultants, podcasters, online business owners, Internet marketers, people who offer services, teachers, and/or anyone who has a message they want to make an impact and income with.

Did you know that you can book consulting gigs at companies all over the world? Companies paid outside consultants $39.3 BILLION dollars last year according to Bloomberg. They hire these consultants to train their employees on a WIDE variety of topics.

You can do one-off trainings and get fees in the range of $10K-$100K, license your online courses at a rate of $1K-$3K per employee, book high-end executive coaching in the range of $15K-$60K, and sell comprehensive training programs and temples at rates of $15K to multiple six-figures. I base these numbers off of what companies have told me they’ve paid consultants in each of these categories.

This year, I’ve booked 34 paid international consulting gigs at companies. I’ve done consulting gigs at companies in 59 countries over the last five years. I’ve helped coaching clients and students in my classes book 30 paid speaking and consulting gigs all over the world this year.

I’ve also given clients and students in my classes eight consulting gigs that conflicted with my schedule. I introduced them to the companies and walked them through the deal process all the way until contacts were signed and the deals were closed.

I can teach you how to book paid speaking and consulting gigs worldwide. I can show you the exact steps to book high-paying speaking and consulting gigs. The EXACT steps without any fluff or upsells.

The live version of my Get Booked class won’t run again until next year, but on July 16th, there will be an opportunity to purchase the home study version. 37 entrepreneurs have already gone through this class and have raved about the content (their testimonials and info is on the sales page).

The class comes with eight training videos (12 hours of training), documents to help you book gigs (sample contracts, pitching templates, handouts, sample slides, and PDF’s that walk you through all of the training and strategies), and access to our private group for questions, inspiration, member’s only Q&A’s, and to share wins/losses.

If booking paid speaking and consulting gigs all over the world could help your business, check out the details of Get Booked (Home Study).

Photo Credit: Flickr/ penguincakes

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.

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