This is the task that successful companies and consultants mark as a priority, and most others neglect: defining, testing and refining your ideal client profile.
Your product or service or consultancy is serving a specific market, and that market must be defined. Yes, it may be broad-based (“horizontal” as in “all consumers ages 18-49”) or very narrow (“vertical” as in “doctors in private practice in the top 12 metropolitan areas”), but there is always a market to be defined.
Excellent companies focus on this definition, and continuously test and refine this profile based on their successful penetration and on their failures. Even small one-person consultancies must attend to the definition, and refine it often, especially in light of lost clients that were not well-served.
So, begin with defining your ideal client profile in as much detail as possible. Then test and test again — does your marketing reach those profiled? What is your close-rate and your retention rate? Does the message need to be adapted? How are leads generated? If by referral, then you must define your ideal referral source. If your audience is reached by marketing and advertising, then you must refine your message to fit the profile, or you must segment the profiles into narrower targets so the messaging can be fitted to each.
As you continue to refine your profiles and your outreach to those profiled, you must listen to the feedback you are receiving. If the outreach gets you “non-clients” and prospects that do not close, change the outreach or change the profile. Remember that every lost prospect you pursue is not just wasting your time and effort and expense, it is costing you the lost opportunity to pursue your ideal prospect that will close.
This is not rocket-science. This is discipline. And this discipline is one of the foundations of success.