No doubt I am not the only one to hear clients defer starting projects they had previously enthusiastically approved. Although I understand the reluctance to proceed with prior plans when the world has changed and companies are conserving cash, how can I get a client who really needs consulting support to go ahead with an engagement?
The resolution of this issue is straightforward, even if it is not easy. When the fundamentals on which a decision is made changes, it must be reevaluated under the new conditions. In the case of a prospective consulting engagement, the need for consulting services may have disappeared. If not, maybe your particular approach, skills or cost may preclude you from consideration. Your best recourse is to support your prospect or client to better understand the new conditions by which a decision should be made.
How has the market changed? Competitor pricing and credit availability? Changes in staffing and utilization of employees? Relevance of the company strategy or tactics under the new conditions? Don't forget new governance or management pressures on your client. Are there other consultants who have stopped - or started - supporting the company recently? How might this change your prospects or how does it affect the environment for consultants? How has the ROI on your services changed or can you reframe the nature of your value to the company?
Tip: Prepare a set of these questions, especially putting yourself in your prospect or client's position. Help reframe how any investment decision should be made. Once you have helped in this process, ask to honestly discuss how your services would best be evaluated in the same framework. Most clients would appreciate your helping them to evaluate your services in the same manner as every other investment, instead of trying to sell your services as "unique."