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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 

#396: Let Your Client Know You Have a Sense of Urgency

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, September 20, 2010
Updated: Monday, September 20, 2010
I have noticed a big difference among consultants. It is not so much the varied technical skills or level of confidence but different senses of how quickly to move on a project.

This sense of urgency you mention does make a difference in how effective you can be as a consultant. Certainly, a consultant who presses ahead and gets the job done quickly will be viewed favorably by a client. The sooner a solution is presented and implemented, the sooner a company can improve its effectiveness in the area in which the client needs consulting advice. A consultant bringing a sense of urgency will move faster through diagnosis, solution and implementation and encourage the client staff to do the same.

However, remember that speed is not everything. Don't move so fast to a solution that the client is left behind. Many of us have solved the problem (or at least so we thought, in our head) on the first day and were anxious to implement the solution. But, unless a client wants a turnkey solution instead of advice on how they can address the issue, you do more harm than good by beating them to the solution

Tip: Once you have the lay of the land in an engagement, discuss with your client what functions, processes and people are likely to be the "rate limiting steps" of your consulting process. It might be information management, or staff scheduling, or approvals. Agree with your client which ones are worth waiting for and which ones hinder rapid results. With this mutual understanding, and recognizing that some elements of your client's operation may not be able to move as fast as everyone wants, you can press ahead as fast as you have explicitly agreed with your client.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  client staff  customer understanding 

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#395: Use Pictures to Make Your Point

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, September 17, 2010
Updated: Monday, September 20, 2010
My presentations to clients are complex and data rich. With so much to communicate, how can I assure that my message is getting across clearly and the audience remembers it?

With so much information bombarding each of us, we are hard pressed to remember details of each event, document, presentation or even conversation. We use several tricks to clarify and highlight key points but even these are sometimes not enough.

For example, PowerPoint is well known as a way to reduce the data resolution of a presentation (sometimes too much). Applying the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) rule will keep us focused on a vital few elements of a presentation, letting us relegate detail to appendices. Chunking and pre-briefing can be used to provide data in digestible bites. However, none of these techniques reduces the volume of data we are dispensing, just the way we are sending it.

To really increase the amout of knowledge received and understanding gained for the amount of data sent, we need to use an old tactic. That tactic is to use images ("a picture is worth a thousand words"). Using images creatively gets messages across better regardless of language, culture, or familiarity with most of the technical subject matter.

Tip: Dan Roam describes a few rules about improving communication using simple images. Dan is author of The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures, a Top One Hundred book in the category Decision Making and Problem Solving at Amazon).

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting tools  data visualization  innovation  product development 

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#394: Expand Your Referrer List

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, September 16, 2010
Updated: Monday, September 20, 2010
Apparently I wasn't paying close enough attention, but as my clients retire or move, industries change, or companies merge, I find my list of prospective clients shrinking. How can I be sure to have a good quality contact list to assure a steady stream of prospects?

We all know that it's who you know that counts in this consulting relationship business. Whether you need cool or warm leads, having a list of prospects is only part of the issue. You also need to work on maintaining a list of referrers who both know you and know your prospects.

Technology can help in some cases. For example, business networking groups like LinkedIn now lists several hundred thousand management consultants. If you have about 100 connections, you are likely to have about 50,000 second order links and millions of third order links. Way more than you need to get to almost any prospect!

You are wise to build your contacts list as much as your prospect list. Define what kind of individuals would be good referrers. Set a target of adding 5-10 new qualified contacts each week. Capture information about each potential referrer in a managed contact list. Include demographic and personal information so you have a way to connect to them. Note their needs so you can take advantage of opportunities to contribute to the relationship.

After a year, you will have several hundred contacts. If you have categorized each one, you will have opportunities to send all contacts in your (for example) technology category an article about some new technology that they would find interesting. If you limit this to about 10-15 categories, you can nurture the relationships and stay top of mind.

Tip: Be sure to "make deposits before you make withdrawals" in the relationship bank. Actively manage your contact list, each month looking through every contact to see how you might help each contact.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting colleagues  referrals  sales  your consulting practice 

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#393: Seek and Ye Shall Find Consulting Opportunities

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Updated: Monday, September 20, 2010
As much as I love the industries on which I focus my consulting practice, I'd like to find some others to consult to. How do I find growing industries where I can provide my services?

Without knowing what services you provide, it is difficult to tell you where to focus. However, you ask a really good question that we all do - or should - ask regularly. Technology, regulation and demographics constantly change the marketplace and your consulting practice should adapt.

Think of it in each of two ways. First, look at changes in your technical discipline. Keep up with new approaches and technologies in assessment, analytics, interviewing techniques, new approaches to training, process consultation, etc. Are your colleagues doing anything different that you could learn? Have you been using the same techniques that could use a new approach?

Second, which industries are showing sustainable growth and why? In what sectors? Are your clients or their industries among them? Look at business rankings like The Business Week 50. What are those companies doing that you could help your clients do? What opportunities exist for your services in BW50 companies?

Tip: The above referenced companies are based on the S&P500, but international companies are also ranked by BW, the Financial Times and other business media.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  market research  trends 

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#392: Plan on Always Staying One Step Ahead of Your Client

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Updated: Monday, September 20, 2010
I think being an effective consultant means staying a step ahead of my clients. However, I just can't keep up with all the media that cover my client, their customers and trends that affect their business. I am embarrassed every time someone says, "Did you see the article about XYZ?" and I haven't seen it. Any suggestions?

Companies use what is called a "clipping service" to track all media mentions of a client or issue. The name comes from the day (not that long ago) when the service literally "clipped" out newpaper or magazine articles that mentioned the topic of interest.

Today's clipping services are based on the ability to efficiently scour online media databases and they vary in price from free to substantial. As a clipping service subscriber, you would indicate what keywords or phrases you'd like to monitor and what publications you want to include in the search. The service compiles search hits and reports to you (often by email) usually on a daily or weekly basis. The more expensive services are required to search through scholarly jounals and higher priced subscription publications.

To get familiar with clipping services, I suggest you use Google Alert. You can sign up for a search through websites, news, blogs, or other Google areas. Try this out for:
  • Your own company name
  • Your type of consulting practice
  • Names of your clients or prospects
  • Your client's markets or activities
  • Areas of the consulting business or profession
Tip: Once you get a sense of how Google Alert works, you can decide if a broader set of media to search is worth the cost.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  learning  market research  marketing  practice management  professional development  publicity 

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