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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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#276: Building the Economic Buyer From Within

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, April 5, 2010
Updated: Monday, April 5, 2010
In developing new business it is often hard to reach the true economic buyer. The gatekeepers are pretty good at keeping consultants at bay. Do you have any advice on how to connect with economic buyers?

Connecting with an economic buyer is more than just identifying who it is and getting past gatekeepers a meeting with them. Focusing on just getting past gatekeepers misses an opportunity to make sure the meeting itself produces the results we want.

Know as much as you can about the company. Develop a cadre of inside resources likely connected to the economic buyer. Get to know personnel in HR, research, legal counsel, marketing, and other departments related to areas of activity in which you'd like to work.

Tip: Get to know them, find out about their work, and learn about the needs of the company. Once you have done this, let them specifically know about your desire to meet with the economic buyer. Describe your intended services, confirm that the person you think is the economic buyer is indeed the right person, and ask their advice on how to make that contact. This will give you a robust view of how best to describe and present your services to the buyer. It also pays dividends later by having a ready made groups of allies who can help you best serve the client organization.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  consulting process  customer understanding  market research  marketing 

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#275: Pricing Your Services

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, April 2, 2010
My market is pretty transparent about daily fees paid to management consultants and the range is pretty tight. But it amazes me how some of my colleagues seem to thrive while other struggle at the same rate.

First off, consultants should be looking for opportunities to charge on a value basis. Selling time as a commodity will get you commodity pricing, i.e., competition for the lowest price. When you are compensated for the value you bring to a client, there is no issue with daily fees being too high (to the client) or too low (to the consultant).

Nevertheless, if you are going to charge daily fees, then how long has it been since you took a hard look at your cost structure? If you conducted an activity based costing exercise on your business, how much does it cost you to provide a day's consulting services? Have you included insurance, overhead (all of it, not just your variable costs), transportation, research, conferences and professional development, amortization of your certifications, etc.? This is where you may find your costs too "high" for your market.

Reevaluate your costs every year to make sure that they can still provide you a profitable business and to highlight opportunities to maximize value. Remember, consider expenses as investments and consider the loss of value from eliminating it. For example saying "I can't afford to go to a professional development conference," is just looking at the expense and not the new skills, visibility, contacts and business revenue to be gained over the long term.

Tip: If you are familiar with Activity Based Costing (ABC), you might look into a variation by called Time-Driven Activity Based Costing that addresses a long-standing weakness in the original ABC method - how to deal with down time (sounds like something consultants sometimes experience). See Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing: A Simpler and More Powerful Path to Higher Profits for a good summary of this new approach (something to adopt conceptually for your consulting services but it is not necessary to rigorously follow the full methodology).

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  efficiency  fees  performance improvement  practice management  your consulting practice 

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#274: Change Management Models

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, April 1, 2010
Updated: Thursday, April 1, 2010
In my consulting work, I find similarities in what my past clients have needed and what my current ones need. What is great about this is that I can reuse some of my old materials, adapted appropriately to the new situation. Is this a common practice?

You should always use the concepts and principles that are most appropriate to the client need and circumstances. This does not require developing new materials for every engagement. However, it does suggest that, whatever you reuse, it be carefully thought through for its applicability.

It is important to always use some kind of formal change model. This will help you structure your data collection, prepare the organization, and to communicate progress. These formal models are often improved over time so don't forget to check up on their latest incarnation (you will need to judge whether or not it is improved or just "old wine in a new bottle").

The model you use may be one of the many developed and marketed by large consulting firms (e.g., Kotter's 8-step change model, Waterman's 7-S model, Lewin's change theory, and many others). Many of notable change models are quite similar and address many of the same aspects of strategic, operational and cultural change. However, when selecting a model, be aware that some emphasize one or more aspects of change that may be more or less important in your setting.

Tip: You can also develop your own model that fits your own experience, research and approach to organizational change in your particular consulting space. Start with a structure from one of the more publicized models and adapt its components, concepts and language to your own needs. Each time you use this model, evaluate its effectiveness. Over the years you will develop a refined and documented model of successful change.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  change  client service  consulting process  knowledge assets  product development  your consulting practice 

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#273: Consulting for a Green World

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Green business is growing, with political and technological advances creating a demand for green products, green regulation and green management. How can I get up to speed on my opportunities in this space?

The most interesting aspect of the greening of business is that, regardless of your particular industry or discipline, you can participate in making your client more sustainable and, ultimately, profitable.

This is not the place to go into green market trends but here are two tips for where to look in your own space for green opportunities

First, what services do you provide that directly affect green products? If you consult on telecommuting, then the potential to reduce transportation costs fuel for commuters creates a good market for your services. If you advise governments on land use planning, then businesses will be interested in your skills to reduce facility energy and water use costs.

Second, what industries are most at risk for climate change impacts? KPMG recently identified industries that are most at risk of climate change impacts and poorly prepared. These include transportation, tourism, aviation, health care, finance, and oil and gas If you work in these industries, how could you reduce risk or improve preparedness?

Tip: An increasing number of firms are providing sustainability training and services that consultants can take advantage of. For example greensupplychain.org provides consultants with partnering opportunities to enter the green consulting space with your own clients or into new markets.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  customer understanding  marketing  trends  your consulting practice 

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#272: Does Ethical Consulting Pay?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I always try to do the right thing by my clients but am wondering whether it "pays" to provide ethical consulting services.

This is an uncomfortable question, but I suspect one that some management consultants might at least think about. It implies that the decision to ethically provide consulting services might depend on whether doing so results in higher fees. Interpretation of how exactly to apply ethical practices to a given consulting situation has some nuance. However, the decision to ground every business decision in ethical principles is absolute. The IMC USA Code of Ethics is the standard of practice for US management consultants. It implies a commitment to be "bound by the unenforceable," that is, doing the right thing regardless of whether anyone else knows.

Since you asked, though, there is increasing evidence that ethical practices "pay." An article in The Wall Street Journal reported that people will pay a premium for products they consider to be produced with ethical practices. Perhaps more importantly, people will require a deep discount to buy products they perceive to be produced with unethical practices. If the intrinsic value of doing the right thing is not enough, a utilitarian justification may have to do.

Tip: Given the disrepute in which consultants are sometimes held, this suggests a vigorous effort to assure clients that you are committed to act ethically and are bound by the profession's ethics code. The most authentic demonstration is through voluntary commitment to being bound by formal IMC enforcement procedures as a member but, at a minimum, you should discuss with your clients that you will abide by IMC Code of Ethics.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  business culture  client relations  consultant role  ethics  goodwill  professionalism  your consulting practice 

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