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How to get new clients for your ISO 9001 consultancy

You want to start a career as a consultant in the field of ISO 9001 and quality management. What do you have in mind to gain opportunities to present proposals and win clients and projects? Think about that …

The world is full of consultants – some with a lot of experience. What will you do to make yourself known? How do you intend to differentiate yourself and make your ISO 9001 consultancy proposal stand out? Who are your target clients? What are they looking for? Where are they “shopping”? What will be your value proposition? Learn in this article.  

How to show qualifications and expertise

If you want to start a career as a consultant, then most likely, you currently have no clients. So, the first constraint that you have to handle is getting the first, second, and third clients in order to give you a chance of developing your space in the market.

Just because someone says or writes that he or she has qualifications, it is not guaranteed to be true. Any potential client may doubt your qualification statements. So, one of your first concerns should be to certify, to shore up, and to reinforce your qualifications statement. You want to reduce any anxiety that a potential client could feel when your name lands on his or her desk or screen.

  • Enroll in a course – for example, you can enroll in recognized courses that can certify your know-how, such as Lead Implementer Courses.
  • Start a blog – blog posts can also be published on professional social networks like LinkedIn, or in particular Facebook Groups.
  • Answer Quora questions, be an active member of LinkedIn and Facebook professional Groups.
  • Create your own YouTube channel with short video blogs containing expert advice.
  • Speak at conferences and seminars – it will develop your professional network and reinforce your reputation as an expert.
  • Publish an expert article – the most powerful marketing technique for a consultant is to publish an article in an appropriate trade, consumer, or business publication; your message will be more credible because it is not publicity – you will become known and develop a reputation.
  • Write a book – don’t forget – people see authors as experts.

How to focus on your target clients

Consultants are problem solvers. What problems do your potential clients have that you can help solve?

Who are those potential clients? The temptation of many is to start firing in all directions in the hope of getting some results. The truth is that this is not a good approach, and you will most likely spend too much in resources with a minimum impact and return.

  • Define your target clients. Clients are not all alike, and different clients look for and value different things. Which group of clients would perceive more value for what you can bring to the job to be done, to the problem to be solved? Describe your target clients and build their profiles. What size; what industry; what kinds of problems will you solve for them? Why are they seeking the support of a consultant? What is it that they value?
  • Consider your previous professional experience. Can you take advantage of what can be one of your strengths? You know the sector and its unwritten rules, you know people, and you already have contacts – perhaps you, yourself, have already experienced those problems and challenges. Perhaps a previous employer can be one of your first clients.
  • Define yourself as a specialist. Do you know the number-one complaint of clients about consultants? “We have to waste time teaching them about our business.” When potential clients need a consultant, it’s for one specific project and they are in a hurry. They don’t want to have to train the consultant or waste time to let him or her learn about the particularities of their business and the sector.

ISO 9001 consultancy - How to get clients

Make yourself known

There are two basic ways of making yourself known. You can earn your potential clients’ attention, or you can buy it.

Earning attention. You earn potential clients’ attention with what is called “content marketing.” Instead of pushing your presence upon the potential client, you offer technical content that can be useful to potential clients. It will be the potential client who, through the use of search engines, will find you by using words or phrases about what he or she is looking for, or about the problems and concerns that challenge him or her.

You start these content marketing activities as soon as you start developing ways to demonstrate your expertise and qualifications: with a blog, with the publication of articles on professional networks and magazines, by speaking at conferences and seminars, or by giving away webinars for free (see, for example, Advisera’s page for webinars – ISO 9001 webinars).

Buying attention. Buying your potential clients’ attention is the traditional way of marketing. In this case, you try to initiate a conversation with a potential client. You can list a set of target clients and search for the right person to contact and send an e-mail, or make a call to try to schedule a meeting to present yourself and your services.

Be prepared to be ignored and to receive a lot of “no’s,” because that is why content marketing is important – it will be working for you 24/7/365 in the background. One day, you will call a potential client and he or she will remember your name from a blog post, or from an article, or from a webinar, and in that situation, you will no longer be a complete stranger.

Don’t wait for clients to come and knock on your door

Be proactive – don’t trust in luck. Work and develop your qualifications, choose your target clients and make yourself known. To track your progress and evaluate the effectiveness of your actions, consider making a business plan with targets for number of clients and revenue.

Learn more about techniques for getting new clients in this free webinar: How to sell ISO consulting services.

Advisera Carlos Pereira da Cruz
Carlos Pereira da Cruz
Carlos Pereira da Cruz has over 30 years of experience working as a consultant, trainer, and auditor with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. He is a university teacher and author of several books on strategic management, ISO 9001, and ISO 14001, as well as an ISO 9001 author.