Balancing sales and work

On any given day, most established consultants are in a position of balancing sales and work. When you look at the day ahead, how much time should you spend on finding new clients vs. doing work for the clients you already have?

When you’re starting out, it makes sense to spend a lot of time on prospecting for new clients and making connections with people in your network As a new consultant, you must market yourself to get work and, until the work starts to pile up, you probably won’t have a hard time balancing work and sales.

But what about an established consultant? I’ve been doing consulting for 10 years. How much time should I be spending on networking, marketing, advertising and other activities that will bring clients in the door? I’ve usually got a full plate of work — so much that I refer work to other people or hire subcontractors. Most of my work comes via my website or via word of mouth. What should someone like me do to keep their name out there?

Being a marketing consultant, I’ve honed my own marketing over the years. I go to a few well chosen networking events each year. I designed my website to bring in traffic, so that I don’t have to spend so much time looking for new clients. And I focus most of my marketing and networking efforts on my existing clients. They’re the most likely to hire me again, refer me to other clients, or act as a reference.

I suspect many other established consultants are in a similar position. And, really, I don’t worry about sales vs work too much. Not knowing how much time to spend on each activity is a nice problem to have at this point in my life.