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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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#651: Never Leave Behind a Useless Leave-Behind

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, September 12, 2011
Updated: Monday, September 12, 2011
To stand out with prospects, we have a lot of our work products, research and data on our website that anyone can view and download (all nonproprietary and not our most valued information). What we are now looking at is non-web collateral that would be effective as a give-away or leave-behind to represent our brand and value to prospects. What are the most effective types?

Consider your reaction and the process you use when you get something in the mail (e.g., refrigerator magnet, inscribed pen) or are handed it by someone in a public setting (e.g., report, CD, notebook). The odds are very high that you are going to dispose of it, either immediately or by putting it in a place to look at later (i.e., never). The key to a recipient is how quickly they can figure out what it is, how it works, how they can benefit from it, and for how long.

This is why flash drives (containing a vendor's collateral) are so popular. I already know exactly what a flash drive is, how to use it, and how it can benefit me. Sooner or later, because I keep it with me and use it repeatedly, I will review the vendor's material. Furthermore, even if I decide to not use the vendor, I have a constant reminder of the vendor and a positive impression. Consultants are infamous for handing prospects beautiful reports of their work to show just how great they are. If someone hands me a white paper that I now have to figure what it is, find a place to file it temporarily, and then spend time reading, my odds of doing all of these things and connecting positively with the provider are really low (especially if I discover it is all about the consultant and not about my needs).

Tip: Don't burden the recipient. Never leave anything with a prospect unless you can guarantee they know exactly what it is, they know how to use it, and they can get value from it quickly. Ideally, they would want to use it immediately after you walk out of their office, and each time they use it, they can do so quickly and see it as valuable. What you consider high value may be seen as low value because its use is complicated to the uninitiated prospect. If your leave behind is hard to understand or use, or difficult to get value from, what kind of impression do you think your prospect will associate with you?

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  goodwill  intellectual property  presentations  reputation  sales 

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#650: The Follow Up Call

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, September 9, 2011
Updated: Friday, September 9, 2011
I am building a prospect pipeline with a contact application and have prepared for a series of networking events to attend to kick off my initial contacts. Other than capturing the names and relevant information from people I met and consider potential leads, what else do I need?

You are off to a good start. Capturing leads in a formal way, whether it is on a sheet of paper or in a software contact manager on your smartphone, is essential to managing a prospect pipeline. A box of scraps of paper and business cards as a strategy for getting clients is looking for trouble. Let's not get into how the contacts make it into your list, but the critical next step after first contact: the follow up call.

Following up means doing it before the memory fades (yours and theirs) and doing it in a way that leads to a higher probability of a good business relationship. Once you have identified a person who is marginally qualified, you should follow up to set a time to discuss a mutual business relationship. This is your chance to decide whether and how you commit valuable time to pursue the relationship or you will drop them in the "cool" (as in not worth pursuing right now) contact list.

Tip: The follow up call should be done within 3-5 days, preferably the next business day. You should have a follow up call script that includes a reiteration of the circumstances that brought you together, the premise of why your two businesses might productively work together, your interpretation of pressing needs of the other person (and questions you could ask to verify), an example of work you have done that relates to this need, an offer of a contact or piece of information of value to the other person (goodwill), a possible working relationship you could mutually benefit from, and suggested next steps to move toward that working relationship. Preparation and some forethought, along with not letting the prospect get cold, are the keys to turning a business card stuffed onto your pocket into a live prospect or partner.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consulting colleagues  goodwill  information management  networks  prospect  sales 

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#649: Know Your Client Thoroughly Before the First Meeting

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, September 8, 2011
Updated: Thursday, September 8, 2011
We all know that first impressions are important and we all do our company research before arriving for a meeting, but what really makes a difference to a prospect for the consultant to stand out?

This is not a simple question to answer. Clients vary widely in technical focus, industry background, personal style and their approach to selecting and retaining consultants. However, all clients are human and, as such, respond favorably to people who are interested in them. Due diligence on your prospective client's company is necessary but how much effort are you making to get to know your prospect personally?

I recall one engagement I won with a biomedical research organization because I read the executive's dissertation, several personal interviews, and past news clippings about their community activities and hobbies. This told me a lot about the type of person they were and how they approached their profession and personal and professional relationships. The prospect, who became a client, cited my effort to understand and use appropriate language, topics of casual conversation and interpersonal style as key factors in my being selected. My interest in them as an individual, on top of my interest in their issues as an executive, indicated to them the way I approached my service to them.

Tip: I recommend being able to answer a prospect who asks: Tell me what you know about me? At a minimum., you should have seen their CV or resume, read whatever articles you can about them, looked at whatever social media presence they have and talked to a few people who know them. The little extra effort can go a long way, especially for somewhat obscure information. For example, they may have a LinkedIn reading list or commented on books on Amazon, both of which give you insights about what makes them unique. This is not just to impress them but to really have a good understanding of how best to work with and serve them.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  customer understanding 

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#648: What Do Others Say About You?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2011
When I hear some consultants talk about their colleagues in an unfavorable light, and the comments seem to be inconsistent with my experience with the people they are talking about, I have two reactions. One is that I wonder what they are saying about me when I am not around. The other is I wonder how much I can trust them to be honest with clients and colleagues if I were to team with them. Should I be worried?

You are right to be worried about comments like that. Disparaging one's colleagues in public is unprofessional and, in fact a violation of the IMC USA Code of Ethics. Paragraph 14 states: I will not advertise my services in a deceptive manner nor misrepresent or denigrate individual consulting practitioners, consulting firms, or the consulting profession. Of course, if you have solid evidence to think unfavorably about another consultant, then you can certainly make your own decisions about teaming based on that knowledge.

If a consultant has something to say about another consultant, they can say it to the person's face. You are not the only one who notices these things. Clients occasionally say that one of the most important factors in judging the professionalism of their consultants is how well they get along with other consultants. For these clients, your bad mouthing another consultant will just damage your own reputation with the client.

Tip: Make it a point to get to know other consultants personally, more than just by reputation. Until you do, and begin to appreciate their perspective, experience and skills, refrain from commenting judgmentally about their character and consulting acumen or expertise.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand management  consulting colleagues  ethics  reputation  trust 

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#647: The Future of Consulting to Nonprofits is Bright, But Cloudy

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, September 6, 2011
As part of our desire to contribute more to our communities, we'd like to serve more nonprofit clients. Except for the smallest ones, they seem to be run by sophisticated managers who could use specialized consulting expertise. Is this a good market to get into?

When compared to for profit clients, nonprofits differ only in mission focus and how profits are handled. Other than that, which may have little or nothing to do with how you advise them, nonprofits can be extremely rewarding and consulting services very effective in helping them achieve their mission. Furthermore, as public sector budgets tighten and philanthropic funding sources remain tight, there is a greater need for alignment, transparency, accountability and performance in nonprofits to get as much bang as possible from each buck. For the same budget reasons, demand for traditional nonprofit services, especially in health and human services, is growing. That's the good news.

The cloudy forecast comes from the same factors of tight budgets and new ways nonprofits are beginning to operate. Many smaller ones are merging to share services, cut costs or consolidate clientele. Others are changing the way they raise funds, deliver services and staff their organizations. While this may seem like an opportunity for management consultants, the lack of budget and uncertainty on how best to change how a nonprofit does business will constrain those consulting opportunities.

Tip: The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that 2011 nonprofit job growth is flat and business giving is unlikely to increase. This means your ability to deliver real value (i.e., what nonprofits need, not necessarily what your firm is most qualified to deliver) is in expanding constituent services without any more funding. At the top of the list is your ability to increase revenues from corporations through mutual investments and service delivery projects, not the traditional development function of increased giving. Use the approach of leveraging business and nonprofit missions to mutual advantage and you will find a lot of nonprofits asking for your help.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client service  customer understanding  innovation  marketing  nonprofit 

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