Market Less and Get More Clients
As consultants or other business services, we don’t need leads. We need prospects. Jay Kingley, CEO and Co-Founder of Maven, shares impactful tips on how to spend less time looking for new clients and more time generating revenue and building relationships with your current clients and network.
Notes from the Show
Where is your next source of revenue coming from? There is an 80% chance it will come from existing clients and prospects. So why are you spending 80% of your time focusing on new leads?
When you’re just starting out, it can be difficult to find the balance between serving clients and building your business with new prospects. In the business services industry, you more than likely need less than 10 high paying clients annually, so you don’t need tons and tons of leads.
Start with Direct Targeted Outreach, outbound introductions to meet people and get your name out there. Eventually, you will utilize referrals, an ebb and flow of outbound to your network and inbound from prospects.
As you develop your network, every interaction focuses on what you have to offer that matches the course of your relationship and continues to leverage each conversation.
Consider this tip; need to stay at the top of your clients minds? Add value beyond yourself; nurture your clients with value from another contact that THEY can bring to THEIR clients. Everyone wins.
You can reach Jay via email or LinkedIn.
How should you be creating your target network?
What is a valuable referral?
Where should you be spending time generating prospects?
The critical difference between referrals and introductions.
A great tip to stay at the top of clients minds.
Mentioned in this Episode:
Transcribed by AI Susan Tatum 0:35
Welcome back, everybody. Today, I am thrilled to be talking with Jay Kingly, who's the CEO and co founder of Maven. And Jay, you're saying is doing less marketing to get more clients. So welcome. And tell us how to do that?
Jay Kingly 0:51
Well, it's a great line, isn't it. And it's relevant to our market, which is consultants and fractional executives and executive coaches and other professional services, you could put lawyers accountants in, in that it's theirs in their business is fundamentally different than just about every other type of business. And one of the ways it's different is that these businesses are not scaled. So they're very high ticket, highly customized offerings. So when we talk to someone in that category, and we say to them, how many clients do you need a year, we typically get under 10. So most marketing is about generating enormous quantities of leads, well, consultants at all don't want leads, what they want are prospects, and they are taking time out of serving clients in order to get clients. So the last thing that they want to do is spend too much time getting clients. So it's not just about effectiveness, it also has to be very efficient for their time. So there are certain tactics, which have these characteristics of being efficient, in addition to be ineffective, where the goal is to generate, you know, fewer than 10 high paying clients a year.
Susan Tatum 2:15
You know, that's that's, it's really interesting that you say that, because one of the questions that I get most frequently from newish solo Consultants is how do I balance building my business against serving my clients and doing the work that I really want to do,
Jay Kingly 2:34
right. And what I always tell people into take what you said about starting out, I always tell people, there's three stages that they can go through the first two are not optional. Third one has, where they're going to have to start for the most part is direct, targeted outreach, right? So they're gonna have to identify who would be a good client. And because they're just starting out, no one knows them. And they've got to introduce themselves. And I know that you've got a lot of expertise on how to do that in the right way.
Susan Tatum 3:08
And I just want to say that for all of the listeners, I did not pay Jay to say that, because I'm talking about this thing about reaching out first, because this is something that I think is so important, and is so often not done is talking to
Jay Kingly 3:25
and you have to start there, you cannot assume that step. Okay. So you you do that. And I think that you know your methods and your strategic insight. Now to do that, I would just go you know, bravo, that listen to what Susan has to say she will guide you correctly. But that for me is stage one, okay. And the reason it's stage one is that it is very effective if you do it correctly. But it is not as efficient as she would like because it takes time and effort to do particularly to do it right now, in the beginning, that's okay, because I've not filled with clients. This is how I start to get filled with clients. And that's where we start with as your business become stable. And what I would say goes from struggling to viable, then you want to start to transition into stage two. And the gold standard for stage two is referrals. Now, the interesting thing about stage two compared to stage one, stage one is you are going outbound and reaching out to people and doing it in an effective fashion. In stage two, you are going outbound to a network, but then the prospects are coming inbound to you because the prospects are directed to you by people in your network. So it's actually a hybrid outbound to members of your network. And then that causes prospects to reach out to you inbound.
Susan Tatum 5:04
So I think it would be safe to say that the vast majority of new consultants, the first thing they do is to reach out to their existing network. And that could be part of the conversations that you want to have, initially, to figure out what it is you're doing, and who you're serving,
Jay Kingly 5:23
Right. But here's what we often say. And this is where new consultants can get tripped up. So they are leaving corporate, for whatever their reason, and they decided to start their own business. And they're all excited about it. And they put out sort of typically a mass communication to everybody they know that says, hey, I'm now doing this. So if they particularly if they generated some goodwill through their corporate career, then there are a variety of people would say, you know, what, I actually could use you sometimes even their employer, or assumed to be ex employer will say, Hey, I'd love to use you in a transitionary fashion. So because they often get a start, when it comes to their marketing, they say, Well, that wasn't hard, was it? I got a bunch of clients. Okay. What they're not telling you is, they were a little nervous. So they cut their price. And right, so there's some deep discounting there. But they've got some clients that didn't seem that hard. But then at some point, those engagements end, and then they wait, well, where's everybody else? And that's where they hit the proverbial wall.
Susan Tatum 6:30
You know, the first time you and I talked you said something that really stuck with me. And that was that may we agree that most consultants love referrals. But you said we're all looking at it wrong. And there's there's a big difference between referrals and introductions, spend some time on that.
Jay Kingly 6:50
Okay, excellent. So when people think about referrals, oftentimes they don't distinguish between what I call an introduction in the referral. So an introduction is when someone in your network and let me just stop there for a moment and say, who should be in your network? Right? Well, there's real clarity around that, when you're thinking about referrals and introductions, that people in your network are those who have a business relationship with the target the with the decision makers in your target market, if they don't have that relationship with the decision makers that you want to do business with their helpfulness to you will be limited. And I'm not saying zero. There's other things you get from a network. But in terms of clients, they're not going to be a major source of clients. So now you have these people who are doing business have business relationships with people that you want to do work for. So let's talk about an introduction. So an introduction is when that person in your network goes to one of their clients, and says, I want to introduce you, for example, to me, right? I'm the person looking for for that introduction. So they're going to introduce me to their to one of their clients. So the direction is, from the, from me to the person in my network to their client. Now, what is the challenge with that? Their client has not asked to meet with me, right? So it is when you are that client, and one of your service providers asks you to, in effect, do them a favor, because that's how you're going to hear it. Right. So you want me Susan, to do you a favor and meet with Mary. But I don't really want to meet with Mary, I don't see the point. But I'm going to be polite because it's we have a relationship. So I am probably going to say, Okay, I'm happy to meet with Mary. And now you get connected. And there's this dance, because Mary's trying to get on my calendar and I don't really want to meet with her. But I'm doing it out of courtesy. So we schedule a couple of weeks out, then it gets postponed a couple of times. And eventually, Mary gets it say, Mary, how can I help you? And I smile, because I'm going to be uber polite. And Mary probably is going to stumble a little bit because she doesn't have our messaging down. She doesn't quite know how to handle it. But she'll get something out. Then I'll say, Mary, it was a real pleasure talking with you. You know, I'll keep you in mind. Thank you so much. And I'm out. Oh my god. Thank you. Right, I've now recaptured time that I don't really have
Susan Tatum 9:27
so and Mary is immediately forgotten
Jay Kingly 9:31
and immediately forgotten because the client never had interest was only doing it as a favor to you, their service provider. So, you know, introductions are okay, better than nothing, but they're not where you'd also be like to be so now let's go to a referral. Now a referral goes the other direction. Now a client say your client Susan goes to you and says Susan, I am looking for someone that can help me on my strategy for revenue generation. And you say I have the perfect person. Jane, Kimberly have made it. Right. Yay. Right? And you are so solid in recommending me like sole sourcing. And so when when then when then you told me Hey, Jay, I've got someone who's interested in you. Wow, that's great. But here's what people don't understand. If your client is asking you, for somebody, they are probably asking other service providers they work with also. So those situations are rarely sole source. So normally, what's really happening is I'm getting put on a shortlist. And again, a shortlist is better than no list, but it's not sole source. So let's say that your client now has three people to talk to each of whom have been strongly recommended by that service provider that they know. So all else the same, my odds of success are about one in 3 30 3%. But as a solo consultant, my close rate I really want about 75% in order to be efficient. So now I'm at 50% avoid like to be in terms of close probability. Now, if I don't have a full client roster, I'll do that all day long. Because again, what's my next best alternative? But once I start to get busy, then those referrals are no longer that attractive, in fact, to share a story when I was a partner in a, in a management consulting firm, and I was doing very well, I used to get a lot of referrals. And someone would call me and say, Jay, I got your name from so and so speaks the world of you. And I really need your help. My first question was, who else you're talking to? And if they said, Well, I got a couple of people that had been recommended to me, I would normally say, You know what, those other people are probably really good. And I'm really busy. So I think that you ought to focus on those other people. Because I'm I'm sold out. If on the other hand, they said to me, Jay, you're it, then I would say how to seat. Let's talk Because now I knew now what would know that my close rate was at least 75 80%. And that made it worth my while because I was fairly busy. So referrals are great. When you're not that busy. They become more and more problematic, the busier you get, unless you know that your sole source.
Susan Tatum 12:31
So that may that makes sense. I would think also that you saying to them, these other people are probably great. And I'm really busy. So I'm going to pass is going to make them want to work with you more.
Jay Kingly 12:43
Yes, that is a side effect. But you do have to be genuine. Yeah. And authentic in what you're saying. And then sometimes they would come back and say no, Jay, look, I've talked to the other guys. And no, no, no, no, you're the only one I now going to work with great now I will have
Susan Tatum 13:03
now your sole source.
Jay Kingly 13:04
Now I'm sole source. So I'm mapping up that conversation. So for me a referral is so much better than an introduction, because at least I know that that client has intention. So we hear this a lot about Google searches. And companies that want to be discovered through internet searches, what you want is not traffic, you want traffic with intention for a consultant or other provider of expertise, or referral, at least is a connection with intention, where an introduction sometimes lacks intention, because it's going the wrong direction. So having intention always Trump's lack of intention, but I think there's a there's even something better than introduction and a referral that you really want from your network.
Susan Tatum 13:52
So let us know what that is.
Jay Kingly 13:55
All right. And this gets back to I know something that you spend a lot of time in, which is how do you create compelling messaging, and we work with consultants in fractional roles, etc, who are really in the top 20% In terms of the value they can deliver to their clients, the business may not be there, but their capability is certainly there. And when you're at that level, then you ought to have insight and to the issues that are important and urgent to your target market. Now an insight for me is a way a different way to think about that important and urgent problem and challenges the thinking it's it's almost by definition, contrarian. It's and we've all we've all seen these it's all when you when someone throws something that you you're like, oh my gosh, why didn't I see this before? It's so obvious because it is easy to understand. You just never saw it until this person with insight, shared it to You, it is profound in its impact, because you immediately see how it can make a material difference in your business. But the catch is, it's not necessarily easy to implement. And that's where you're going to need help. And that's where the consultant comes in. So you have something that's insightful, and you know that there are plenty of people in your target market that would benefit from this insight. And because it is your insight, you are now differentiating yourself, from everyone else who does what you do, the challenge that you have is, how do you get it in front of that target person and get through all the noise. And this is where your network is gold, because the person in my network has a trusted relationship with the people I want to get my insight in front of. So if I can get them to take my insight and share it with their prospects in their clients, and now that not only do they hear my insight, but it comes with trust, that is a game changer. Right? Totally game changer. And they are effectively filtering for me. Because only the people who say, Oh, my gosh, this is great. This can help me address this issue, which has been bedeviling me, well, now they're going to say to the person, my network, hey, I need you, I need you to put me in front of Jay, how do you how can you connect me? So the intention is off the charts. i In i have generated that interest through my insight. So I am now a sole source, almost by definition. And that only leaves one question, why would someone I'm going to network do that for me?
Susan Tatum 16:42
I have a question. To back up a minute, this a little bit more tactical. But so what I hear you saying is that we need to build a network of people who have access to business relationships with the people that we want to be our clients. And you've used like, you're you're a supplier or you're like, like I'm working, it's it's one of my clients that ask a question, and you and I can recommend you. But I would imagine it's not always a client, that's going to make a recommendation that could make a recommendation, your relationship could be with somebody that is offers a, say a complimentary service or something and they're selling to the same people. Is that fair to say?
Jay Kingly 17:25
Yes. 100%. So the key thing is, I want the person in my network to have a relationship with the person I want to sell to. Okay, okay. And, and the more that relationship is a business relationship, meaning that that client pays money to, to the person in my network, the higher the trust is going to be sure. And it's really about leveraging trust. So I looking for the most trusted relationships, that my client, that person I want to be my client has with others, it's almost like I always do this thought experiment. Imagine, of course in today with everything being electronic. But when I was younger, people used to keep their calendar in a book, right? They had a calendar book, and we didn't have the internet, so you would actually show up to meet them. And it would be almost like, they left their calendar open. And they said to the book open, and they said, I'm going to be gone for 15 minutes and amuse yourself. And I could take that calendar and say, Who are they meeting with? Who's not part of their company? And if I knew, and if I could see, here's a person they seem to meet with every quarter or every other month. And they say, Wow, that's the person I want to have in my network, because they have this relationship with the person that I'm trying to sell.
Susan Tatum 18:50
So how do you do that in a in a digital world?
Jay Kingly 18:52
It's about understanding my decision maker and my target market. Insane. Who is it that either they are buying from? Who is it that they are influencing a buyer in their company, right? So they're part of the process, even if they're not the decision maker, or maybe they're not part of the buying decision, but they are part and parcel of implementation. And you know, an example might be a 401 K provider, you may be sits down with the CFO and the CFO says are what are you use your firm, but the head of HR is going to be responsible for rolling it out, right? So that 401 K provider would know the CFO would also know the head of HR, or whoever in HR is responsible for the implementation. So I think about who I want to reach and I say, Who do they buy from? Who do they influence and who do they work with as part of implementation, even if they weren't part of the buying decision? And those are the people so when I understand those professions, then I say, Okay, now Let me target for my network people in those professions, because they know they're going to have access to decision makers in this target market.
Susan Tatum 20:08
So then you are so the you target the find those people that you talked about trust, there's going to have these people, in many cases, maybe strangers to you right now, to start off with. So you got to build that relationship with between yourself and the possible refer.
Jay Kingly 20:27
Correct. And this is not a one conversation, and I'm good. No, this is this is a, a series of conversations. And at the core of that relationship, it's got to be at mutual interest. You know, it's that old joke, you know, what radio station do you listen to? WiiFM Right? For me, So what doesn't work and a mistake, I often see people as though meet someone, unless they let me tell you would be a good client for me. Let me tell you who I'm trying to get access to? And like, Why is this person going to do that for you? They don't even know you. Yeah, so it's not going to happen. So you have to build that relationship first. And then you have to what I'll call activate them. Second, but only after you have a relationship.
Susan Tatum 21:18
Can you tell us a bit more about how you do that?
Jay Kingly 21:20
So I think you have to look at what is it that you could do that would be helpful for that person. So we do when we work with our clients, we think of like, I think of it's like a tool chest, and there are different drawers. And in each drawer, you have a variety of tools. And as you go up higher, it's more expensive. Okay, so you have to say, Where am I in the relationship? And what is it that I could do to be helpful to this person, and maybe it's providing them an education, maybe it's saying, Oh, I have a great networking group, or there's an event that you don't know about that, I think would be great for you. And all I'm looking to do is to help them and give something to them. But I want to match my investment to where I am in the course of the relationship. Because my time is valuable. I don't want to spend an awful lot of time being put money aside on someone who is the wrong person who's not the right fit. But every interaction, I'm trying to understand, what is it that I could offer, that that person would be valuable that they would value? And use that to always leverage the next conversation. So I recommended a conference that you should attend you were excited. Okay, I know when this conferences, I'm going to reach back out right after the conference saying, Susan, what you think right, tell me about it, so that I'm always teeing up that next conversation, always based on mutual value. And that's, I think, how you build that relationship over time. But now that I begin to have the relationship, you get to the question of, well, what is it that I want this person to really do for me? And why? Are they going to be willing to do it? Because they have their own business? This idea that your network, Is your marketing team or your sales team for spittoon. Of course they aren't, they're worried about their business, right? They're not worried about your business, they want to make their business successful, not your business successful. So how do you align interest? How can I say to you, Susan, if you do this, it's gonna benefit you. And oh, by the way, it will also benefit me so we have alignment, rather than saying, Susan can ask you for a favor. Susan, I looked through your LinkedIn connections, and I saw you're connected to this person, can you reach out and introduce me? Like, why? Like, why would you do that? You know, because I'm, I'm taking I'm not we're not having a mutually beneficial relationship.
Susan Tatum 24:00
Well, so just just to make this you know, like, like, bring it down with an example because I know that in years past I may have tried or known people that have tried saying, you know, you will be doing your your client a favor by introducing them to me because I'm going to solve ABC problem for them or I'm going to give them a free workshop or I'm going to do something like that. Yeah. And that's he's laughing people that can't see him. But But yeah, you know, that happens and then it doesn't really turn into anything. So give it give us an example of like, something that either make it up or something that you've seen that really worked and I know it will be specific to a situation but
Jay Kingly 24:41
no, but let me do that. And let me start though, by saying why that's preposterous concept. Hey, I'm, what's in it for you is I'm going to work magic for your client and you're going to be the hero. It's like, they're my client. I'm already I do not need your help to look good in In front of my client, thank you very much. And it's like, oh, right. So here's what I think is the is absolutely the gold standard. And I'll make it very tangible. Most people know. Well, this is well, let me say it this way, if you have two buckets of people in your business, right, you have existing clients and prospects, existing clients, former clients and prospects, these are people that know you well. And if they're prospects, they just never hired you. But you spend a fair bit of time with them, so they know you, okay? And then we have leads, people that you may be reached out to have one conversation with, but there's no trust, there's no deep knowledge. I always ask people tell me the relative size of those two groups. And typically 20% are in the client, former client prospect 80% are new opportunities with people. Okay, so it's 80 20 and then I say to them where do you spend most of your time? How do you allocate your time between those two groups? And they say, I spent 80% of my time chasing new new leads. Yeah. Okay, great. And then I say to them, where do you think your next dollar or revenues most likely to come from? And the answer 80% is going to come from a client, former client or a prospect it is only 20% likely to come from someone who's brand new, and yet, they spend 80% of their time on the new, which is backwards. Now, they know this, everybody knows this. So why did they do it? And here's, here's why. They know that they need to stay top of mind with their clients, former clients and prospects. And that means you got to reach out and have a conversation. So why don't people do it? Because they don't know what to say. Right? It's awkward to say, hey, Susie, genuinely need for what I do. Right? Are you ready to hire me? Give me more business. Awkward. Okay, let me tell you what else is awkward. I know that you like to golf. Okay, how's your golf game Susan? Great. Next month, how's that golf game going? Next month? Oh, so it's awkward. So because it's awkward, people don't do it. So this is where you can solve a major problem for your clients, which is, I have got something that your clients will be really interested in. And what I want you to do is, I want you to share this with your clients. And here's the beauty, now you have a reason to reach out and nurture them. Now I am giving you the mechanism where you can stay top of mind by adding value to your clients, and even better, you're not promoting yourself. And all that you're going to do is you're going to say let's say if it were me, and Susan, you're my contact, right? So you come to me and you say, Jay, I have this insight, this perspective on the way you should do outreach, how you should communicate, and how you break through the noise. And you summarize that in three to four minutes for me. Okay, great. Now I reach out to my clients, who are the exact people you want to work with clients, former clients and prospects. And I say to them, Hey, Fred, it's, it's been a month or two since we talked, you know, I was thinking of you the other day, because I had this conversation with Susan, and Susan is in my network. And she helps people create noise busting ways to engage with prospects and clients. And this is what Susan was telling me. And mind you, it's it wasn't directed towards you but, by now, literally take out my Nuggets. So I get this right. And I tell them exactly what your insight was. And at the end of that insight, I simply say to them, and as Susan was telling me, this, I thought of you, because I know that doing outreach is critical to your business. And then I shut my mouth. And here I have added value. It's not about me, I am telling them that I am I have in my network, all these valuable resources, and I am their eyes and ears. I am constantly listening for things that might be valuable to them. And I share it with them. And how many clients have people that do that for them? Hardly any. So now I have you have given me the ability to nurture my clients, former clients and prospects. That's where 80% of my future revenues are coming from. Now I can add value to them on a consistent basis by taking your content. Now what's in it for you, obviously, is some of my clients are going to say, oh my gosh, Jay, this is exactly what I'm looking for. And they are going to want me to connect them to you. And that's how you are going to get your clients and that's how I stay top of mind. I get more business with the people that I have built relationships with. And you cannot do better than this. And now you are created a win win for you, the people in your network and their clients, everybody wins, no awkwardness.
Susan Tatum 30:17
So let me see if I can summarize this. You are providing this person that you want to be a referral source, you want to build this relationship with them, you are providing them with a reason to stay in touch with around with their clients.
Jay Kingly 30:38
And prospects. Yes.
Susan Tatum 30:40
their network. Yeah. Okay.
Jay Kingly 30:41
And add value.
Susan Tatum 30:41
Not. Yeah, not just to Hey, what do you do? Yeah, right.
Jay Kingly 30:43
This is real value.
Susan Tatum 30:46
Okay, now, that makes sense. I mean, and you find that people, so it may be completely off topic of what they would normally talk to this person about. I mean, let's say you're an accountant, and I'm giving you information about prospecting or whatever. But you're still going to
Jay Kingly 31:02
Right, they know, I'm an accountant. I don't have to educate them on what I do. Because they are a client, former client or prospect. I don't have to educate them on me, what I need is a reason to stay top of their mind. Yeah. Right. And because I know you have something that they would be interested in, it's, it appears on the surface to be selfless, right? It's just like, I value my relationship with my former client prospect. I am your eyes in years, like, I have time to learn this stuff that you're too busy to learn. And that is enormously valuable to absolutely in what happens when you do that on a regular basis is your client and your prospect? They look forward when you call. I did this in my career, they actually I mean, I was with CEOs of multinational companies, they are massively busy. Every time I call, oh, they would step away for 15 minutes. And I didn't need more than 15 minutes, you've given me this 45 minute tidbit. So I can be a little Hey, how have you been whatever. The other day, I was talking to this person, Susan, blah, blah, blah, that's, you know, I'm now minute five or six, I shut my mouth so they can react to that. And it was astounding the number of times that at the end of the call, they would say to me, and this is literally what they would say. They'd say, Jay, since I have you on the phone ironic, because I called them, they would say, you know, there's something I think you can help me with. And oftentimes, what I realized was that it wasn't something they were planning, but they found what I was sharing with them valuable enough that they were triggered reciprocity. So they would say to me, you know, there's something that I think you can help me with that, I would say, well, great, I'll talk to your assistant, we'll set up a time to talk. And then whatever. I mean, they were gonna give me money, I just had to figure out what was the most valuable thing for them in all because I shared something with them, that had nothing to do with me, but had everything to do with that. And what better place to find that information than people in your network. Because the people in your network are dealing with those people. They know from their area of expertise, what should be on their minds, what they're worried about. I'm just the conduit, but staying right in their face saying, Hey, don't ever forget. And as you add value, they one want to reciprocate. And two, they always want to take your call, because they know it's not gonna be long 15 minutes all you need. It's gonna be valuable to them.
Susan Tatum 33:36
And they're not gonna You're not trying to sell them anything. You're just providing them anything.
Jay Kingly 33:39
Yeah, but you aren't going to let them buy if they want but you're not selling anything. I'm just being helpful in that I can't do that Susan without your content. Because it's it's not about me, it's about the client. Yeah. And how you enable me to be helpful to my client yehey.
Susan Tatum 33:59
That makes a lot of sense and the time has absolutely flown by because I've still got in places that I would rather dig deeper and ask you more questions, but that's that's an eye opener. You know, it's I find it's really very helpful, Jay so thank you
Jay Kingly 34:17
Susan Tatum 34:18
for listeners that want to follow up and find out more about you and and what you have to offer. What's the best way to do that?
Jay Kingly 34:24
They're welcome to shoot me an email. My first name JAY dot my last name kingly. And our domain is referability Maven, all one word, REFERABILITYMAVEN.com just mention that you heard me when Susan show said that I can give all credit to Susan or feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn whatever is easier.
Susan Tatum 34:49
Oh, fantastic. And I you certainly in the in a couple of conversations. We have changed my my thought patterns around referrals and introductions, many aha moments there Jay
Jay Kingly 35:00
Susan Tatum 35:01
Take care. Thanks again for coming by