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#21: Hiring a Development Person to Help You Sell Your Services

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, April 6, 2009
I have heard that some consultants hire a "marketing" or "business development" person to help them sell their services. Does this really work?

First, what do you mean by "work?" Do you mean can a person you hire to make calls to prospects get you appointments? If so, then the answer is definitely yes. Giving someone a script with a compelling case of why your consulting services are needed and having them pitch your services for you can save you some time. Business development services can range from just making appointments to helping you with your pitch and using their contacts to identify prospects. Such a person can be especially helpful if you are a poor salesperson or have limited contacts. Financial arrangements range from flat fee, to an hourly rate to a finder’s fee. You are buying, at a minimum, sales time and, at best, access to prospects you otherwise would not have.

However, the success of this approach can be compromised by two factors. First, given that consulting is a relationship business, you will still have to make the final sale. If you cannot articulate a clear value of your services or close the sale with a prospect, then appointments are unlikely to translate into engagements. Second, relatively few management consultants provide such standardized services that can easily be sold by someone else. Exploring the nature of the prospect's business and circumstances is much easier to do yourself and this is where the relationship building starts. Although not a representative sample, I have heard clients say that having another person sell your work strikes them as unprofessional.

Tip: There are aspects of business development you can certainly outsource. You can have someone advise you on prospects, help you with your marketing research or sales materials, even coach you on closing the sale. However, as a professional, you need to develop the relationship with the prospect from the beginning.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consultant role  market research  marketing  proposals 

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