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#345: How Much Do Consultants Need to Compete?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC, FIMC, Friday, July 9, 2010
There are thousands of consultants and business advisors against whom I compete, each with a different focus and competitive advantage. How am I supposed to compete against them all?

This is a great question that reminds me of the joke of "How fast do you need to run to escape from a bear?" The answer: "Just a little bit faster than your friend." You don't have to be the best in all markets, capabilities, technologies, etc. to be effective. You just need to be better (i.e., more valuable to a prospective client) than the alternative. Look at any athlete, actor, surgeon, chef or painter. They are judged - by the person evaluating or receiving the service - as having the right skills, applied in the right way, at the right time. A universal evaluation standard does not exist.

Rethink your strategy. Instead of starting with your abilities and figuring out how to enhance them to beat others, look at a prospect and figure out how to provide greater value than they are currently receiving. The recipients of your service are totally disinterested in your skills except to the extent that their condition is better in the future than it is now.

Tip: Compete against the service received by your prospective clients instead of service providers like yourself. Focus on the nexus of service between you and the client and not on either one by themselves.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  consulting colleagues  customer understanding  marketing  prospect  sales  your consulting practice 

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Michael E. Cohen CMC MBA says...
Posted Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I don't see a big difference between the two types of competition. Ultimately, if you are competing against the services currently being received by the client, you are competing agaist other providers. This includes the provider(s) currently providing the services to the client, and other providers like yourself seeking to replace the incumbent(s).

You can compete with other providers (the incumbent(s) and others like you) in a numbwer of ways: (1) on the differences in the services and products; (2) on the differences in benefits to the client; (3) on the differences in your technical approaches; (4) on the differences in your staff and firm expereienmce and capabilties. and (5) on cost differences.

Very often the clinet has defined the services, products and benefits it wants. Therefore, the choice for the client centers on which firm it has the most confidence in to provide the services and achieve the benefits. This confidence can be determined by the client's assessment of items 3, 4 and 5 above. As such the client will be assessing your skills, its risk in selecting you, and costs to achieve is goals. Clients and projects can be cost elastic or inelastic.

Therefore, I see no difference in the two differentation ffactors that you have set forth. This applies to work in all client sectors- public, private or institutional. (Sorry for any typos)
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