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#388: Take A Cue From the Board

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, September 08, 2010
I'm looking for competitive intelligence on a prospect. I have looked at the Leadership Library and recent annual reports, asked competitors about their differentiators, figured out where the executives spend their community time, set up a press clipping and Topix analysis, and asked around. I really want this client. Anything else I can do to get an inside perspective?

Sounds like you are well along in scoping out your prospect. You have covered the factual, news and opinion angles. Good for you. Not enough people do this kind of research on a prospective client before trying to engage them.

Here's one area you may not have thought of: the Board of Directors (or a CEO advisory body). Directors are presumably selected because they bring financial, market, technological, management or other resources to the company. Collectively, they provide the governance to drive a company efficiently and effectively forward.

If we assume this is true for a moment, take a look at Directors individually and as a group. What does each one bring? What areas of expertise and perspective do they have? Have there been any recent shakeups on the Board or any Directors brought in for a specific reason? Finally, do you know any of them well enough to talk with them about what the company needs? There are worse references to have than a company Director.

Conversely, it may be the case that the Board itself is one of several problems the company faces. In this case, your analysis of how well the Board is constituted might provide an additional topic of discussion with the executive to who you are offering your services.

Tip: Use caution when approaching individual Directors and/or discussing your conclusions about the role and performance of the Board with your future client. Recognize that you are not on the inside and are going to be missing a lot of information. However, properly qualified, the executive is likely to be impressed with your thoroughness in looking beyond traditional competitive intelligence sources.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  boards  client development  customer understanding  market research  marketing  prospect 

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Comments on this post...

Gary Edwards says...
Posted Thursday, September 09, 2010
I really enjoy and obtain much take a way value from the daily tips. This is the first one that has ever given me pause. I was a CEO prior to my current Coaching/Consulting career of 12 years. I reported to a number of Boards in my time as a CEO. I would advise that at a minimum that a consultant who is also a prospective vendor to the CEO think thru the implications of independently contacing Board members without the CEO''s knowledge. Advance disclosure to the CEO could be important politically and also to get intelligence on existing Board politics, etc.
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