How Top Performing Consulting Firms Drive Robust Pipelines

September 15, 2022

TwitterTweet it:'Consulting firms that proved their value during the last two years remain poised to continue their growth trajectories through the remainder of 2022.'

As we all know, the economy has changed drastically in the past few months. The stock market is down sharply, while interest rates and inflation have risen fast. And, of course, labor challenges continue to pressure firms and their clients. As chaotic as it feels, moments like these tend to be ripe with opportunities for consulting firms. Senior client executives of all types across most industries face as many business challenges as they ever have. And, of course, they will continue to seek objective advice and value expert guidance – the kind consulting firms are best positioned to provide.

Good News: Demand Remains Strong

At Rattleback, we provide growth consulting and lead generation for professional services organizations. This often includes surveying consulting firms to assess the state of their firms and the industry. When we surveyed the market in Q2 2021, firms told us they were seeing a healthy rise in new business activity relative to the second half of 2020. In fact, at the time, 41% of firms told us they had generated more leads in the first half of 2021 than they had six months prior. And, 48% told us they had grown their sales pipelines, at least somewhat, over that same period.

Fast forward 12 months, introduce a dizzying array of macro factors, and firms’ new business programs seem remarkably unfazed. In our latest industry survey, conducted in June 2022, 71% of firms told us they had generated roughly the same amount of leads or more in the first five months of 2022 as they did in the second half of 2021. And 72% say their pipeline is roughly the same or better than it was six months ago – a period when it felt like the lid would blow right off the top of the economy.

Consulting Pipeline Strategy

Driving a Healthy Pipeline in the Second Half of 2022

In short, firms that proved their value during the last two years remain poised to continue their growth trajectories through the remainder of 2022, regardless of what’s happening in the economy. In fact, 48% of the firms we surveyed believe their lead generation programs and pipeline development efforts are “very” or “extremely effective.” Moreover, in that same 2022 survey, we uncovered five things that the most successful companies did best. So, what’s their secret sauce?

5 Ways Consulting Firms Are Driving Robust Pipelines

  1. Clear & Intelligent Positioning – The best firms have a clear sense of their ideal client, where to find them, the challenges they face, how they help them, and the value they create. The firms with a well-defined niche are most effective at communicating added value to their client’s and often have the best margins. Differentiation doesn’t always have to include industry or sub-industry expertise. It could be in project execution, time to completion, scope of service, or something else.
  2. Effective Listening – The smartest marketing organizations rely heavily on original primary research and structured feedback mechanisms to maintain a pulse on customer wants and needs that can be translated into effective sales and marketing initiatives.
  3. Client First – The highest performing firms place the interests of their clients above their own. They live by the mantras that modern marketing is educating and modern selling is helping. Everything they do is driven by a desire to enable clients to progress through their buying journey.
  4. Functional Coordination – Simultaneously, the best firms work tirelessly to break down functional silos within their organizations to ensure that marketing, business development, and client success functions are all operating from the same playbook.
  5. Personal Touch – In a world where sales and marketing organizations of all types are scrambling to automate anything and everything they can, the best firms recognize the need to make each client’s buying journey feel unique, personal, and human.

Those are five methods that the most successful consultancies are using to build high-performing pipelines. However, there are other best practices you should be using as well. Join me on August 25th for the Building a Healthy Pipeline for Your Consultancy webinar, in which I will expand on those five areas and dive deeper into even more lead generation best practices featured by high-growth consulting firms.

Read Next: 5 Characteristics of Highly Profitable Consulting Firms


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About the Author

As Principal of Rattleback, Jason Mlicki has been advising professional services firms on marketing matters for nearly 20 years. He writes about growth strategies, thought leadership development and digital marketing at He also co-produces the annual conference, Profiting From Thought Leadership and the professional services marketing podcast, Rattle & Pedal.