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#181: "What Was Your Greatest Consulting Success?"

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, November 23, 2009
Updated: Monday, November 23, 2009
Occasionally a prospect asks about my best and worst consulting engagements. I have a great one and, regrettably, one that didn't turn out as well as I had hoped. Is there any way to polish up the bad one?

Not every prospect asks the question but we do owe them an answer to the real question they are asking. That question is "if we use your services for the project we have talked about, where are the risks and (of less interest but asked for balance) how might you surprise us in a good way?" They are really not as interested in the specifics of your past work unless it affects them (which is logical).

Consequently, avoid the temptation to select the same "best" and "worst" engagement to relate to all who ask. Offer the prospect a choice of one or two of each to discuss. You will have a good idea of what the prospect is thinking but lay out the choices with an explanation. For example, say, "In this case, the client was bought out in mid-project and we were never able to complete the engagement as designed' or "In this case, we ran into a tough relationship with one of the client's managers who kept changing the contract scope." This is an opportunity to show the breadth of your ability to adapt to a difficult situation. The alternative is to pick a story that doesn't help the client understand your abilities.

Tip: You would be better prepared by creating an assessment of each of your projects. For each project, summarize the problem, solution and result as well as a description of "what went well" and "what went poorly." This is great education for your professional development. It would also be interesting to add to the "what went wrong" a prescription of what you would do now to resolve the problem. How does this differ, now that you are older and wiser, than how you reacted originally?

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  customer understanding  learning  marketing  proposals 

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