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#264: The Power of a Blank Sheet of Paper

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, March 18, 2010
Updated: Thursday, March 18, 2010
I probably do what most consultants do when pitching their services - lead with some probing questions and then provide a slide deck (the appropriate one based on prior conversations) for discussion. It meets all the needs of a pitch but what could we do differently to give us an edge?

Consider that the client is looking for to solve problems or transform their organization. As executives or managers, their responsibility, and presumably skill set, is in making those changes happen. Think of how that manager feels when a consultant comes in with the "solution" already mapped out. Rarely found in this solution is the organization's culture or the manager's input. While we think the manager should be impressed with our expertise and insight, we need to remember that they expect to be part of the solution.

Try using a blank sheet (or more) of paper to sketch out the issues, influences, and solutions. Engage the client in laying out these components and encourage them to even pick up the pen and contribute to the drawing. It is amazing how much more connected a prospect of client is to the solution, and to you, when they shared in the solution. This approach takes nothing away from your expertise and even enhances your image because you appear to be come up with answers from your vast storehouse of knowledge.

Tip: There's no harm in practicing your "impromptu" sketches, and if you are not the artistic type, you might give the pen to one of your colleagues.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  communication  customer understanding  meeting preparation  presentations  proposals  sales 

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