As more and more services are being sold by schedule, I am wondering if the market for consulting services is going to evolve (or devolve) into a bidding war. What do you hear?
It has been an interesting evolution for selling professional services over the past three decades. Before 1977, when the Bates v. State Bar of Arizona
case ended the prohibition on attorney advertising, professional advertising was sold practically only by "person to person." Fast forward to the last decade when the federal government started to purchase services off of a schedule. Then these services extended to professional services, like management consulting. Now, management consulting firms are listed with services to purchase. Need a consultant? Now you can buy Accenture, the Hay Group, Booz Allen or any consultant global to solo off the rack.
This is the great leveler. Although reputation and capabilities still matter, the previously automatic advantage of cachet is quickly disappearing. If clients want a three person engagement team, they may well buy from a small or large firm. What is more interesting is talk of buying professional services at online auctions. It is only a short leap from services schedules to auctions. Hard to believe? No one thought lawyers would advertise thirty years ago, and no one thought consultants would be picked off a shelf ten years ago.Tip:
Listen to Jim Jorasch, head of R&D for the company that launched Priceline for a (short) video
on where his company thinks this market will go. And start thinking how your marketing will have to change as the ground shifts again. © 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA