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Between 2005 and 2011, IMC published Daily Tips every weekday on consulting ethics, marketing, service delivery and practice management. You may search more than 800 tips on this website using keywords in "Search all posts" or clicking on a tag in the Top Tags list to return all tips with that specific tag. Comment on individual tips (members and registered guests) or use the Contact Us form above to contact Mark Haas CMC, FIMC, Daily Tips author/editor. Daily Tips are being compiled into several volumes and will be available through IMC USA and Mark Haas.

 

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Top tags: client relations  communication  customer understanding  your consulting practice  marketing  consultant role  learning  client service  reputation  goodwill  consulting process  market research  practice management  sales  ethics  planning  client development  engagement management  innovation  proposals  professional development  professionalism  knowledge assets  prospect  trends  presentations  recommendations  consulting colleagues  intellectual property  product development 

#145: Helping Your Clients Manage Their Talent

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, October 2, 2009
We all know demographics and knowledge economic forces are conspiring to create a "talent war." If we are not in the human resources or workforce management consulting areas, how can we best help our clients?

Great question. It is logical to think that with the recession, the pressure to find talent might be reduced for a few years. Good employees are going to stay while those around them are being laid off or are wary of changing jobs and losing any seniority. However, consider a survey by salary.com earlier this year that found, even in this recession, that 2 of 3 employees were actively or passively looking for jobs. This is almost twice the rate employers estimated.

The most talented employees are logically looking for opportunities inside and outside the companies in which they work. As the economy undergoes major shifts, more opportunities and new challenges will certainly open up at other companies. Because they will remember how they and their colleagues were treated when times were tough, they will act on bad treatment as soon as the economy improves. Probably the best thing you can do for your client is to assure that they clearly show their employees how valuable they are and to carefully consider what may be considered by employees as a lack of loyalty. Executives must level with employees, even letting them know that they don't know. Historically, this may not have been the right advice, but in this environment, when your best employees are more mobile than ever (and more are Gen X and Gen Y, for whom loyalty means less than for Boomers), disclosure and engagement are critical.

Tip: Joe Pine (The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage) and others talk about how increasingly important experience is to a brand. This is true for employees as well as customers. Help your client make the employee experience more meaningful and trusting by not focusing on negotiating benefits, or promising more benefits when the economy turns around. If layoffs occur, use your skills in technology, strategy, process, or other discipline to help your client understand what elements of those activities in which you are an expert employees find most valuable or most significantly impact the employee experience.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  client service  goodwill  recommendations 

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#144: Would You Know a Perfect Client If One Fell Into Your Lap?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, October 1, 2009
I know I am supposed to define my "perfect client" and then they will magically appear asking for my help. I just don't buy that the universe unfolds according to my whims. Is this really worth the effort?

It depends on to what extent you think the universe is responsive to you at all. So you don't believe wishing brings good things. However, you would be hard pressed to refute the truth in the adage that luck is when opportunity meets preparedness. In such a case, your perfect clients may be all around you but you just don't recognize them. Without the exercise to say what makes them more or less attractive, they all look the same.

What makes a difference to you? The complexity of their problems? The size of the organization? The size of your fees? The level in the company of your client sponsor? The client's geographic proximity to your office? The length of the engagement? The opportunity for follow on work? The people, of either the client or your own team, that you work with? The opportunity to learn something new? These are all candidates for defining a perfect client.

Tip: If you have never done this before, it can be a little daunting. Start with your past clients, arraying them against a list of criteria like those above. Score them from 1 to 5 on each attribute. Weight the attributes (e.g., learning is twice as important as fees) if you like. Score your clients and see if the ranking feels right to you or not. Were the highest ranked clients your “favorites?” Revise the model as needed. Once you feel comfortable, evaluate prospects by this protocol and start looking for clients with attributes that naturally have the greatest weights.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  customer understanding  market research  marketing  proposals  prospect  sales 

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#143: Premature Elaboration

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Updated: Thursday, October 1, 2009
What is the best (or even a good) way to demonstrate the most value for your services during initial discussions with prospect.

We are often so eager to show how much we know that we don't wait until the client has fully explained where his or her organization is, how it got there and completely understands the issues they face. As soon as some consultants hear a problem they have solved before or recognize, they are quick to show how much they know. Even when you have solved the presumed problem before, you owe the client the opportunity to describe why it an issue for the organization and the nature of the solution for which they are willing to engage you. Hold your conclusions until you have explored the issues together. Remember, it is about addressing the client’s problem, not showing how smart you are.

Tip: The title of this tip says it all. Not that every analogy is appropriate but initial consultant-client conversations can be considered like dating: show exceptional respect, listen more than talk, and think longer term.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  communication  marketing  proposals 

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#142: Double Vision

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, September 29, 2009
My colleagues and I argue, good naturedly, over the meaning of the terms mission, vision, objectives and strategies. Although we agree to disagree, each finding support in the literature for our varying definitions, we do diverge strongly on vision. Is there one dominant view on vision?

Not to add fuel to the debate, but you presume that there must be only one definition of vision. I have always felt that there are two different concepts of vision that are used simultaneously. Hopefully this makes things clearer, or at least provokes some thought.

I see two visions: one internal and one external. The internal is a more traditional view of "what type of organization are we creating over the mid- to long-term? What will the organization look like after we faithfully pursue our mission, accomplish our objectives through successful execution of our specified strategies?” Once an organization gets close to its internal organizational vision, it is time to reach higher, usually with an entirely new concept of the organization. The constraint of the internal vision is that other organizations are, at best, indifferent to its achievement or, at worst (i.e., competitors), opposed.

The external vision is what the organization wants the world to look like as the result of its activities, including achievement of its internal vision. This is most appropriate for nonprofit and public sector entities whose desire is to create a public good, but it can be applied to commercial firms. Rather than a description of a single organization, the external vision is a state of nature of the world in which the organization exists. In fact, if this vision is realized, the organization no longer has a reason to exist. All people have safe drinking water. No one is homeless. Everyone has access to affordable healthcare. The power of this vision is that there are likely many other entities, including traditional competitors, who support and are can align behind such a vision.

Tip: There is room for two distinct, useful visions in defining who your client is and where they are going. To get the best alignment of resources, including from competitors, think of double vision as a way to see clearer.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting terminology 

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#141: When Your Client and You Are on Different Pages

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, September 28, 2009
Updated: Monday, September 28, 2009
Every once in a while I get out of sync with a client. I feel there is more potential for the organization than they do, and I am fighting to do things in their interest that they just don't want to do. Should I just back off?

This does happen, when a consultant is pushing a client to do the "obvious" thing to improve the client position and the client doesn’t see it or want to pursue it. On the one hand, the client pays the bills and is in charge of deciding what is or is not in the client organization's interest. On the other hand, you were brought in for your independent and objective ideas about how to improve your client's situation.

Parents know that it is problematic when you want more for your child than they want for themselves. How much do you push when you know what is in their best interest and they just don't have the experience to recognize it? With an adult client, however, it is their decision. Your expertise is as an advisor and you can only explain to them that in your experience, course A or B is the best one for them. Once they reflect and reject it, and you feel they understand the decision they are making, you have met your obligation and are done. Time to get in sync with the client and not feel they need to get in sync with you.

Tip: This is often where clients complain about the arrogance of some consultants who barely hide their contempt for a client who "cannot see the obvious." Our job is to lay out the issues and our best advice; the client's job is to make the decision, whether or not you agree with it. Also, if the circumstance occurs that you warned about and that could have been prevented had your advice been heeded, take the high road and stay far away from saying, or even thinking, "I told you so."

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  client relations  client service  consultant role  guidance  professionalism 

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