Question from a reader:
"Hey Danilo, love your idea of focusing disproportionate effort on a selected number of prospects (dream clients).
We compiled our list and got in touch with each one of them in the past, but after a couple of months little progress was made so we decided to move on and take on work from other accounts - even if it's not the work we wanted to be doing. Any advice?"
I want to thank the consultant for the question. I lack context for specific advice - the issue might be with his positioning, outreach strategy, digital presence - but he mentions one thing that I often hear from other partners.
It's what I call "business development myopia": Prioritizing short-term projects over long-term revenue, relationships, and reputation.
If you're selling specialized consulting services, a couple of months is barely enough to start building a decent pipeline. When the goal is to earn interest and trust from dream clients, it typically takes consultants much longer.
The point is: Persistence matters, and taking the long road pays off.
Sometimes we need to try something new. Success is often a matter of experimentation - trying different things and approaches to connect with those potential clients. Providing enough value for their time, and looking for multiple ways to be helpful.
But more often than not, you simply didn't have the patience to engage with them long enough. Marketing takes time. Building relationships takes time.
Here's a test to see if you're suffering from business development myopia:
- Make a list of all the opportunities you lost (didn't convert into a paid engagement) in the last 12 months.
- Select the ones with your dream clients (if you don't know who they are yet, read this post).
- Ask yourself: How many of these prospects have you continued to engage on a recurring basis with since then?
If you're like the average consultant, not many.
Treating myopia is not difficult. List those companies, and think how you can reconnect and be helpful to each one of them:
- You can look for different people to connect with inside each of those accounts.
- You can use any of these 6 ideas to quickly nurture existing relationships.
- You can design and offer an initiative that shows them what you do.
It takes time. And as Morgan Housel said, "Compounding is hard because a bad month can feel longer than a good decade." But what's the alternative?
Take "meh" clients if you need to, but don't forget to carve time to generate the kind of work that you want.