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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 

#361: You Can Help Clients Set Deadlines

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, August 2, 2010
Updated: Monday, August 2, 2010
I never know how best to set a timeline for my clients. They are the client, of course, but they never seem to move as fast as I’d like. Is there some way for me to get my clients to share my sense of urgency?

You do recognize that the client has elements of their timing decision of which you may be unaware, thus there may be a good reason why they do not share your sense of urgency overall. However, it is appropriate for you to make sure that they fully understand the implications of delay. Probably the most effective thing you can do to help a client move as fast as you would like is to get them to enthusiastically embrace your ideas and/or recommendations by understanding the implication - whether financial or cultural - in terms of opportunity costs. This may be cast in terms of the penalty of delay or the reward of quick decision.

You already know what their key decision criteria are (e.g., competitive advantage, morale, bottom or top line growth, employee skills, technology adoption) so work these timing benefits into those key metrics.

Tip: Don't over-promise with unrealistic expectations or with promises of results that are outside of your control. Remember to first understand why your client has a different timetable - it may be you who needs to rest your expectations.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  advice  communication  customer understanding  engagement management 

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#360: Every Consultant Needs a Solid Understanding of Statistics

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, July 30, 2010
Updated: Friday, July 30, 2010
My firm focuses primarily on training and HR consulting. We don't do process reengineering or analytics so is there a reason why we need to develop our staff in analysis or statistical skills?

In a word - yes, particularly statistics. In an increasingly technical world, anyone advising management of a business, nonprofit or government agency needs to know the fundamentals of probability, sampling, inference and (perhaps most of all) how to both display and interpret statistical information. The potential to misinterpret information from a poorly analyzed dataset or prepared graph can mean the difference between solid advice and misdirection. If you can't understand the nuances of data, you have no business giving advice.

Just because you are an HR firm doesn't mean you don't have use for statistical analysis. Designing and interpreting employee surveys, evaluating the effectiveness of training curricula, and predicting social demographic or company trends all require solid statistical skills. As a consultant to a business function where practitioners may be less skilled in statistical analyses than others, you have an extra responsibility to assure that HR is solid in its use of analysis in pursuit of performance.

Tip: Validity, reliability, correlation, inference, sampling, validation are all concepts with which you should be familiar. Look around for some primers on statistics such as Statistics for Managing Human Resources, or even Statistics for Dummies

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  customer understanding  data visualization  learning  professional development  statistics 

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#359: Use Your Phone to Build Your Brand

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, July 29, 2010
Updated: Thursday, July 29, 2010
I have an insight I'd like to share with other consultants: your phone greeting can really help or hurt your reputation. I just revamped mine and have gotten positive comments from a lot of clients and colleagues.

Glad to hear you are in a continuous improvement mode. Every part of your business persona can reinforce or detract from your brand - whether it is your website, how you dress, your presentation template, your client interview process, and your voicemail greeting. Most of us record a functional "Not here. Leave a message" functional greeting when we get a new phone and never look back. For many, this may be the first, or only, impression they get of you. Shouldn't you make this as good as you can?

A couple of thoughts. First, your message should reinforce your brand. It should send a message, not just ask for the caller to leave theirs. Also, your office and mobile greetings should be consistent but don't have to be the same. Second, consider what you want the caller to think and feel after listening to your greeting. You should give them information or an impression they might not already have and a reason to want to do business with you. Third, change your message regularly. It could be a (short, repeat, short) mention of a new book, new service, or new area of interest.

Tip: Ask your colleagues to do you a favor and tell you what they learned, feel, are surprised by or understand about your brand from your greeting. Is your greeting distinctive or could it be on any consultant's phone? Finally, what other parts of your comprehensive brand are you overlooking.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  brand management  communication 

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#358: It is Never a Bad Idea to Send Follow Up Memos

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I am a bit compulsive about documenting all my client encounters. I do it for my own purposes but is sending my notes to a client as a record of a meeting worth doing, or is there a downside?

Savvy consultants recognize the importance of recording assumptions, decisions and action items after every key client or prospect encounter. Memories fade for both consultant and client and decisions may have been made in which the impact of a disagreement becomes critical to a project's success.

Do you need to send a full copy of your detailed notes? no, but here are six reasons for sending a follow-up summary:
  1. Shows you are committed to the details of a project.
  2. Allows you to add critical "after-thoughts" that help to strengthen your original point(s).
  3. Demonstrates your professionalism.
  4. Provides a written record of the meeting that can be referred to, often saving the client the trouble.
  5. Sets the stage for next steps, particularly when you can cast them in terms you are clear about.
  6. Informs others of the encounter (and its results) by copying them in, as appropriate.
Tip: Send a memo as a courtesy to your client after every key phone call or meeting in order to help reflect your professionalism, build a stronger relationship, get your recommendations acted on, and leverage your good work. Keep is as short as you can, in a consistent format, and always indicate any action required/requested. Don't procrastinate. Send the follow-up while the original encounter is fresh in the mind of the client.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

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#357: Prepare a Disaster Plan for Your Consulting Practice

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Despite the increasing incidence of somewhat spectacular natural and intentional disasters, the evidence clearly shows we are poorly prepared - either as individuals or as communities (or nations). Aside from helping my clients become better prepared, is there something we should be doing as a consulting firm to prepare?

Most people are optimists, believing that the worst will not happen to them. However, ask anyone who has recently been through an earthquake, weather related disaster, flood, near-miss of a terrorism incident or the regional economic devastation of an oil spill (for example). They will tell you also that they didn't think they needed to be prepared - or as prepared as they later realized. Your consulting firm is no different. How ready are you to withstand the impact, and recover from, a similar unexpected event?

From the simple (power surge that fries your hard drives and on-site backup systems, or a flood of your facilities) to more complex (outbreak of flu that keeps you or your staff out of work for several weeks, or a lawsuit that prevents you from using a technology or IP on which your practice is built), you need to have thought these events through. No one thinks it will happen to them and neither do you. It is time to lay out the events from which you can currently recover and ones you are unprepared for.

Tip: Take a cue from Ready.gov for business. Use these checklist and suggestions to help your own business as well as those of your clients. Who knows, you might even develop a new practice area in managing risk and disasters for a new groups of organizations.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  planning  risk analysis  trends  your consulting practice 

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