7 Best Lead Sources for Consultants

By Stephani Fitzsimmons
Director of Content and Communications
Apr 12 2022 read

Working as a consultant can be very profitable and can come with a lot of perks, like downtime between projects or the ability to pick and choose projects that best suit you. Still, like with any professional service business, you constantly have to be looking for ways to connect with potential clients and attract new leads. 

Solid leads may be hard to come by and you may spend a great deal of time interacting with people who ultimately will not hire you. The key to success is not just generating a large number of leads but generating the right leads. You want to be talking to those that are most likely to be interested in your services and become your clients.  

Where can you find high-quality leads? We’re going to share where to look and also how to leverage client work management solutions to help better manage clients, projects and other important aspects of your consulting business. This becomes key in helping to free up your time to focus on finding more quality leads and increase your income. 

1. Client Referrals 

This may be the best way to generate qualified leads. The word of a previous client who hired you to do the same type of work and was happy with the result will be taken more seriously than any cold calling outreach, especially if your former client and potential new client have an established relationship. 

Keep in mind that there are two situations where relying on client referrals to find new clients can't really be done:

  • If you are new to the field or branching out into a type of consulting that you have never done before: If you do not have many clients or have not worked for very long with clients that align with the type of referrals that you would like, it might be difficult to use existing clients to generate new business or provide ringing endorsements. 
  • If you have clients that have been dissatisfied with your work: Even if you don't list unhappy clients as references, their opinion of you is likely to get out and potentially lead to bad referrals that could actually stop leads from coming in. It is important to be aware of your business reputation and do your best to counteract any negative feedback. 

Tracking how a project performed along with client communications and satisfaction can be extremely helpful in gauging who could be a potential positive client referral and who might bring negative attention to your business. 

Accelo's client work management software helps you keep all your clients and leads organized, with information about how the job went and what industry they are associated with, all in a single database. 

2. Associate or Partner Referrals 

Associate or partner referrals can also be a highly effective way to generate leads, as another trusted third-party outlet vouching for your business. This type of lead channel tends to work best when the referral sources frequently work with your ideal type of client or an ideal fit for your offerings. 

There are two main distinctions between associate or partner referrals and client referrals:

  • Associates or partners are typically businesses that work in conjunction with yours or have clients that have used your services, but have not been a direct client: Unlike clients, you don't likely have a built-in transactional connection with associates or partners that refer to your business. However, these referrals are still very powerful because you have an established relationship with the associate or partner, they are confident in your services and would not risk jeopardizing any of their own client relationships to help your business. This is a strong and trusted endorsement. 
  • Associates or partners might expect something in return for being a referral: Clients may think of being a referral as a way to show gratitude for exceptional service or as a way to help their own connections find good services, but associates or partners may need another type of motivation. Sometimes this is in the form of a referral fee, and sometimes it's an agreement to return the favor by referring their business to others. 

So, how do you find associate or partner referral sources?

Accelo’s software can help with identifying these potential lead sources by tracking referrals. You can house all communications in a single place, made even easier by email sync, so that you can see what other businesses or service providers your clients are interacting with and trusting. You can also organize your partners or associates, track any leads they send your way and track any referral fees you may send to them. 

3. LinkedIn 

LinkedIn is designed to enable connections and networking for business professionals. This makes it a great place to connect with exactly the type of businesses that you’re looking for and generate leads.

You can choose to make connections yourself on an individual basis or use LinkedIn ads to be more targeted and increase your reach as you spread the word about your consulting business. 

With any form of ad spend, it’s very important to keep track of the budget and monitor what is working or where to reallocate funds. Accelo can help you make the most of your LinkedIn marketing campaign by helping you track the budget and the success of each campaign. 

4. Webinars

Hosting a webinar is a great way to get your name out to a large number of potential clients and provide valuable information as you position your services. Instead of spinning your story many times, you just need to make the spiel once. There are three keys to successfully generating leads through a webinar: 

  1. Make it interesting. 
  2. Allow viewers to interact with you in real-time. 
  3. Include ways to contact you and encourage viewers to reach out to you for more information. 

Once a webinar campaign is launched, you can track this lead-gen source by tagging leads and creating a follow-up plan. It’s important to know what interactions have taken place between your business and any current or potential clients. This can be done quickly and made easy to locate in Accelo. 

5. Interviews and Media 

Much like a webinar, this lead source allows you to reach a larger audience without the need to repeat yourself or do multiple individual touchpoints. Interviews or bylined articles placed within the right targeted media can make sure that you are getting in front of your ideal audience. 

Hiring a PR firm can really help to make this process less time consuming and more efficient. If PR is not in the budget though, you can research top media that connects with your ideal customer profile (ICP) and reach out to editors. 

In addition to possibly generating leads, this type of publicity can be easily leveraged across your website, on your social media platforms and in client communications. It can really help to establish your business credibility by being a trusted source for media. 

6. Blog Content 

Almost any industry can effectively generate leads through blogs — consulting is no exception. By choosing the right subjects for your posts, you can attract the attention of potential clients and guide them to a page on your website where they can find out more. 

It is important that you create blog articles that speak to your target audience and provide valuable information. From there, you can nurture the lead with additional pieces of relevant content. Make sure that any information provided properly aligns with your services to increase brand awareness, make the lead potential higher and ensure opening discussions run smoothly. 

7. Paid SEO and Ads 

Paid SEO gives your blog or website an added advantage by boosting your information to the top of a search.

Although these appear to be regular search results, they are actually pay-per-click (PPC) ads. As most people don’t scroll too far down the search results before choosing a site to click on, paying to have your results found near the top of the page can be a very effective way to generate leads. 

Choose the Best Consulting Software To Help Capitalize on Leads

Accelo’s client work management platform works in tandem with the above-listed lead sources to make them more effective. Of course, once you have turned all the leads you generate into clients, the software will help you to keep your business organized and running smoothly. 

Try a free trial of Accelo and see how consultants are better managing their business through the platform.

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About the Author


Stephani is Director of Content and Communications at Accelo where she oversees content ideation and development. She has worked in and around B2B technology for most of her career and loves helping businesses be more productive, connected and efficient through new technologies. A veteran writer and content creator, Stephani's work has appeared in InformationWeek, Security Magazine, TechRadar and The Fast Mode.

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