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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 

#936: Are You Ready to Deliver Your Pitch

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, December 5, 2008
Updated: Friday, December 5, 2008
My track record of getting appointment with prospects is pretty good but there are times the pitch just doesn't go over very well. I always do my research and have a lot of ideas ready to pitch but, more often than not, they just don't seem to connect.

Experienced consultants develop protocols for much of what they do. After many years of delivering similar services, they have honed efficient setup and processes for delivering most of their services. For some consultants, however, this push for well-defined processes seems not to apply for prospect meetings.

You say you do your research on the prospect ahead of time but you also say you arrive with lots of potential ideas. This may be where you run astray. Think of it from the client's perspective. They have lots of issues to deal with but probably only a very few they are prepared to talk to you about. To a prospect, your talking about a lot of things you could do for them sounds like you are selling yourself, not solving their problem. If you really have done enough research, you will know the top three issues the prospect needs to address. If you are the right person for the job, then you will have a very tightly scripted pitch to get right to the point of pain. Doing that will keep prospects focused on what you can do for them, not what they need to do for you.

Tip: If you can't identify 1-3 issues the prospect has a passion for, has a need to fix, and lacks the capability in house to solve, then you don't know enough. It may be that you could meet with the prospect to listen and gather more information, but it is better to understand the issue well enough to be able to craft your rather robust process to solve it. Finally, it is worth the effort to dry run your pitch. Don't consider practicing your pitch something a novice consultant does. The confidence you gain from a perfectly practiced pitch wears off onto the prospect.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  marketing  prospect  sales 

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#935: Add Teaching to Your Consulting Portfolio

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, December 4, 2008
Updated: Friday, December 5, 2008
I have been thinking about ways to add to my consulting portfolio and I wonder if teaching will provide a lot of business leads.

A consultant is already a teacher. Part of your job as a professional service provider is to help a client address a problem or opportunity but another part is to provide the resources, teach skills and develop support systems to address similar problems in the future.

However, your question is how effective teaching might be to fill your pipeline. The answer is, not much directly but it can still contribute to your business development indirectly. First, teaching forces you to clarify your methodologies, validate your research and improve your ability to communicate your consulting value. In preparing for your classes, you will certainly weed out any outdated ideas, tired approaches, or sloppy logic (or your students will likely call you on them). Second, depending on where and what you teach, your students may be purchasers or influencers of consulting services. Certainly, teaching subjects related to improving company profitability to an executive MBA class would be ideal, but most students are not in this position. Third, teaching can connect you to other teachers, thinkers and researchers that you might otherwise not have access to. This can be invaluable in keeping you on the cutting edge of new ideas, or at least old ideas with new research.

Tip: Start small to see if you really like it. Teaching is not for everyone and being a good teacher is only loosely correlated with being a good consultant. Start with seminars and workshops. talk to other consultants who teach. If this seems to fit your personality, time availability and skills, pick a community college or adjunct faculty position with a subject you are familiar with and experienced in and where you can start to develop (or influence) a curriculum. A decision to teach is not forever, but remember to build in the ability to capture value for your consulting work.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  teaching 

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#934: Developing Ground Rules for Facilitated Sessions

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Updated: Friday, December 5, 2008
Although I am an experienced consultant, I am just getting started facilitating. I have tried to set ground rules but I am not sure that these are working well, since some sessions are not going well because of bad participant behaviors.

I presume you are asking about how to best manage a facilitated session using ground rules. It is important to have a set of well considered ground rules for a session. These rules should address behaviors that will encourage productive behaviors and discourage disruptive behaviors. Your goal as a facilitator is not to prevent participants from expressing themselves (or force reluctant ones to express themselves) but to ensure that their behaviors do not suppress or unduly influence the contributions of others.

There are two schools of thought on developing ground rules. First, you can do what you have done and you develop them in advance and impose them on the group. This could be done jointly with your client or you can do them by yourself. If you understand the nature of the group and have been briefed about specific individuals who may need encouragement or restraint, this usually works, especially for an experienced facilitator.

Second, you could develop ground rules with the participants of the facilitated group at the beginning of the session. This has the advantage of letting the group own the rules. You may also find out about behaviors that would benefit from moderation that you might not have known about if you developed rules in isolation.

Tip: The purpose of ground rules is to facilitate productive discussion and effective behaviors toward the purpose of the session. Instead of just pulling the sheet of paper with ground rules from you last session and stapling it to your new agenda, consider ground rules a part of your technology. Keep a notebook of ground rules, annotated after each session. describe whether rules were followed (and if you really enforced them), whether they were effective, why you selected the rule and how you came to describe them to the group. You may well collect a broad suite of ground rules that you select from as a function of the kinds of group you are facilitating.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  facilitation  process 

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#933: Letting Your IP Go To Waste

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Updated: Friday, December 5, 2008
Over the years, I have neglected to capture the Intellectual Property I have developed. Now that I am writing a book, it is a painstaking process to recreate it. Is there a shortcut?

A couple of thoughts come to mind. First, IP has a shelf life and the value of your IP to you and to the market may differ. Your IP from ten years ago may not be as valuable as you think and maybe not worth the effort to recreate it. You may believe you have created something unprecedented and unique. Or you may believe that there is nothing new under the sun but there is good money to be made repackaging old material. Whatever way you think, as long as it is something you created without benefit of someone else's work, it is your IP and you have a right to package it into a book. Your editor and buyers can decide if it is valuable to them.

Second, it is easier to retain IP than to regenerate it. Most consultants have a fatal habit of finishing a project and running off to the next one. All the processes, data, relationships, graphics, text, workshop or seminar materials, letters, talking points, models and survey data you created rests, unstructured, on your hard drive and in your lateral files. It is likely, as the months go by, you will forget what was critical and what was not, and the task of doing file storage triage may become more daunting than you want to bear, so you don't so it. This is where your IP went (it is still there if you care to go get it).

Tip: Build into a project, even if you classify it as administration or R&D, enough time to do an after action review (also called a post mortem) on your project. Here is where you write up the project, secure references, return proprietary materials, discard duplicates, organize highest value materials, file original graphics/slides/collateral that you could repurpose, and organize project materials for easy retrieval. Next time you won't mourn the loss of you IP.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  intellectual property  knowledge assets  practice management 

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#932: When Your Client Suddenly Departs

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, December 1, 2008
Updated: Sunday, December 7, 2008
I have been working with a client for about four months who suddenly left the company fora new job. She is the one I know best and who knows me best. I am afraid her replacement will not see the value of what we have done or my future services. Suggestions?

Having a relationship with only your client is a risky strategy, for two reasons. First,effective consulting requires you have insight into more than just your client's immediate world. Second, your ability to provide more services beyond just your client means you need to know, and be known by, more than just your client. If you only have a relationship with your recently departed client, then you have a challenge ahead.

However, after four months in the company,you may well have more of a network than you think. The work of researchers and practitioners of organizational network analysis, like Karen Stephenson, Valdis Krebs and Ron Burt has shown the impact of social networks on how organizations operate and change. What can you say about your client's organization in terms of who occupies the roles of technical specialist, gatekeeper, advicegiver, nodes, and resistor (various schools of network analysis use different terms)? Who really makes decisions, controls the culture,or allocates resources? Just because you do not have a relationship with the closest person to your client on the organization chart doesn't mean you don't know who has influence in the organization. Look below the surface and things may look brighter than you suspect.

Tip: Look over some of the research and application on organizational network analysis. You don't have to be an expert,just understand the principles, applications and benefits of using these concepts. Look at recent articles in HBR such as A Practical Guide to Social Networks or The People Who Make Organizations Go--or Stop, or Informal Networks: The Company Behind the Chart for insights of where to look for theseinfluencers and find new opportunities.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

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