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#452: Explaining What a Management Consultant Does

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, December 07, 2010
I have what I consider a clear "elevator speech" or "value proposition." What I am not so confident of is my ability to express in the next 2-3 minutes what I can do for a client. What I do is pretty complex and depends on the client's need but I seem to fumble the explanation.

This is not unique. In the absence of specific details on the client situation, needs, capacity for change, resources, and history, it often requires some restraint for a consultant not to reply "it depends" in response to an inquiry of "what can you do for me?"

Where we get tied up is in balancing a clear general response with our wealth of knowledge and experience in similar situations. This is not the time to tell everything you know, especially since, until you know more about the situation, your experience may or may not be relevant, or the information premature.

Explain to a high school senior what service you provide to managers and businesses. Ask them to explain back to you what you do, and be open to clarifying questions. A blank look from them or a flurry of clarifying questions will tell you a lot about your success in explaining yourself. Once you can explain your service in a way that doesn't require specialized knowledge, you will have the basis for a 2- 3 minute introduction to your services.

Tip: Removing all the jargon, historical examples, and arcane references to the best practices literature on consulting will give you a clear, understandable and concise pitch that connects on an emotional, not intellectual, level. And remember, it is not what you do that is interesting, but what the client becomes as a result of what you do, that is of greatest interest.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  communication  marketing  proposals  prospect 

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