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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 

#606: Advise Your Clients Carefully on Negotiations

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, July 11, 2011
Updated: Monday, July 11, 2011
Advising clients on negotiations can be a challenge if they ask but negotiation is not our specialty. It's not clear how "hard” or "soft” to advise my client to be. What help can you provide?

As ususal, don't give advice where you are not qualified, but you can suggest resources for your client. There are many great books on the subject of negotiation. One highly recommended source for insight is Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury. Some major suggestions they provide when approaching a negotiation of any kind (at the simplest level):
  1. Always focus on separating people from the issue at hand.
  2. Pay particular attention to both side’s ultimate interests and pay less attention to their stated position.
  3. Don’t focus on a single answer, but focus on developing multiple options that provide mutual gain.
The book also provides some keen insight on (and effective methods for handling) un-balanced or difficult negotiations.

Other highly recommended books on the subject of negotiation include Richard Shell’s as Bargaining for Advantage and the Guide to Negotiation from the Harvard Business Essentials series.

Tip: Help your client get into the right mindset and offer only what you can ethically provide, even if that is only references and moral support.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  client relations 

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#605: Use Word Clouds in Marketing, Sales and Service

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, July 8, 2011
Updated: Friday, July 8, 2011
I am looking for new ways to convey my consulting company brand. I am thinking of short videos or other web-enabled methods, but want to make it an edgy, quick, emotional grabber. Any ideas?

Branding is a complicated and highly customized practice and you would benefit from talking to someone with that expertise about your particular situation. However, there are a few things to consider if you want to go with something new and attention-getting.

Consulting is a hard enough concept to explain to people so boiling who you are and what you do down to a short video or other medium is really challenging. Consider using a word cloud, a static (image) representation of the words that describe you. Use an application like Wordle to generate a word cloud of the nouns and adjectives that describe your firm and its services. The display shows the most frequently used words arranged in a single image with the more frequently used words (assumed proportional to their importance) shown in larger fonts. See an example cloud for my consulting qualifications and practice areas. This is a pretty powerful way to, within a few seconds, provide a memorable snapshot of who you are.

Tip: Try this out using all the words from your website or qualifications statement (or those of your client or prospect) to get a quick sense of what they are all about. If what the word cloud says about them is not what you think it should be, consider rewriting the website or rethinking your qualifications statement.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  market research  marketing  presentations  website 

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#604: How Do You Fit Into Your Client's "Story"?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, July 7, 2011
Updated: Thursday, July 7, 2011
I provide process consulting services and work across a lot of industries. I've never considered human resources or cultural issues a part of my work but I am wondering if I should expand my perspective out of my process service area to make sure I am working in the best overall interest of my client.

One thing every organization needs is a "story." The story encompasses values, history, vision, mission, and people. It defines who the organization is, what it stands for, where it is headed, what it will and will not do, and how it makes decisions. It tells prospective employees, partners and customers whether or not they should have a relationship. If you know the story, you know the organization.

The problem is that many organizations lack a story altogether. They have values listed on their website, which don't line up with their mission, and employees speak about an entirely different culture. It is hard to start, grow, or sell a business without a story to go along with it. Having a lot of different images or stories will compromise attracting and motivating employees, securing funding, creating partnerships and aligning strategies for growth. .

So, what is your role in all this? First, the story is a compelling part of whether and how a consultant considers working with a client. Second, if the client has no concise, coherent and compelling story, it will be hard for you to decide where and how exactly to focus your work. Improved process efficiency that tears apart a culture or violates the (even if not well articulated) story is counterproductive. In your case, you need to understand the story to do your best work. Third, if there is no story, then you have an opportunity to help them create one.

Tip: By the way, you are no different than your client. You also need a story for your consulting practice that grabs prospective clients and partners more than your lists of clients, services and USP. Doug Stephenson has some good tips for creating your story.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  client service  communication  customer understanding  goodwill  reputation 

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#603: How Close Should You Get to Your Client?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 6, 2011
We are proud of our work advising clients on HR related issues (hiring, talent management, training, performance evaluations, etc.) but as much as we consider ourselves "part of the team" in their growth and improvement, we don't get the recognition from them we think we merit. How do we get it?

First of all, recognize that you are advisors to your clients, not part of their team. Consultants may humorously refer to "going native" because of being engaged with a client too long, but our ability to maintain our objectivity and independence is critical to our value. You should be proud of your contributions to the client but may want to question whether your priority should be validation and inclusion as "part of the team.".

Second, wanting to be recognized for your contributions is reasonable, but why does it have to be only from your client. Sure, you want feedback from your sponsor that your efforts are making a positive impact on the client condition. However, there are ways to be recognized by your peers, within your team and by your profession that can be as much, if not more, valuable to you (if you will let them).

Tip: Consider whether you are seeking validation from your client in appropriate ways. Just as clients value you highly for your objectivity in providing them advice, you benefit from clients showing that same objectivity in evaluating your performance.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  attribution  client relations  client service  consultant role  goodwill  professionalism 

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#602: Consultants Need to Embrace The Coming Boomer Retirement Wave

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Many of my current clients whom I have served so long are talking about retiring. I am aware that with all the boomer age executives retiring, I will have to develop a whole new marketing strategy to cultivate new sets of clients. Should I be concerned?

Yes you should.

We all know CEO tenure is declining, whether from burnout, impatience or getting the boot, but one could reasonably expect that nonprofit executives are generally happy to stay and focus on their mission. This doesn't look to be true. The Meyer Foundation and CompassPoint recently completed a survey of 3,000 nonprofit executives titled Daring to Lead and found that two-thirds of them plan to leave their jobs within five years.

Although every demographic, social, technological or economic shift comes with a need to shift your consulting business in some way, this is not all bad news. First, although many boomers are in executive roles, there are plenty of others waiting to move up the organization ladder from within. You should already have relations with those key managers. Second, a little shake-up in your marketing activities is a good thing; if you don't do it regularly on your own, here is a chance to reexamine all your approaches from a fresh perspective.

Tip: As distressing as this might seem, do you recognize the opportunity? Executive transitions are an opportunity for organizations to make some big changes. Every organization undergoing a loss of a long-time executive may need advice on how to make that transition effectively and with minimal stress. Your current clients may even welcome your contribution as either an executive recruiter or as interim executive. Embrace the change.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  client relations  market research  planning  trends  your consulting practice 

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