My firm is a fairly large and well regarded and I am an experienced consultant. What can I do to differentiate myself from thousands of other consultants (and my partners) who do similar work?
Every consultant faces the same issues of differentiation, regardless of firm size or discipline. Certainly your personal reputation from prior work and, often in a multipractice firm, the reputation of your partners make a big difference. However, people shop on rationality and buy on emotion. In the minds of a buyer of professional services, particularly the more senior they are, there is a greater likelihood of identifying with you if you come across as a peer. This means exhibiting leadership characteristics.
One of the best ways leaders relate is by having stories to tell. Stories, more than dry recitations of capabilities that are virtually indistinguishable from others, help you emotionally connect. Great leaders can tell three stories:
- About themselves (what you stand for, where you came from)
- About the organization they represent (you are promoting your firm as well as yourself)
- About how they have made/can make people feel they are part of something bigger than themselves (this can be about past clients, community organizations or missions that you and your audience have in common)
Your stories won't get you in the door - only your capabilities, experience and value will. Create the stories that define you and your commitment to professional service and you are much more likely to connect. © 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA