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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 

#266: Slowing Down

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, March 22, 2010
Updated: Monday, March 22, 2010
I'm working too hard. I'm too busy. And I want to slow down but just can't sem to. Any tips?

I am assuming (maybe right and maybe not) that you are overworked with paying client work. The tip is not what you might expect in this economy but here it is. Raise your fees. A lot. For both existing and new clients. Risky? Wouldn't this lose some business? Most likely ... but you did say you wanted to slow down.

Surprise ending: You may slow down ... but don't be surprised if you end up making more money than ever before ... and working fewer hours. There is a saying that no matter what you charge you will get back the same dollars but with more or less customers. In a time of commoditization of consulting (and many other professional) services, when more and more consultants are undifferentiated, a notably higher fee will certainly set you apart. Now all you have to do is to make sure you meet those expectations.

Tip: Want to hedge your bet? Try it with half your clients and prospects and evaluate how this works in trimming your client load.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  fees  marketing  reputation  work-life balance  your consulting practice 

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#264: The Power of a Blank Sheet of Paper

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, March 18, 2010
Updated: Thursday, March 18, 2010
I probably do what most consultants do when pitching their services - lead with some probing questions and then provide a slide deck (the appropriate one based on prior conversations) for discussion. It meets all the needs of a pitch but what could we do differently to give us an edge?

Consider that the client is looking for to solve problems or transform their organization. As executives or managers, their responsibility, and presumably skill set, is in making those changes happen. Think of how that manager feels when a consultant comes in with the "solution" already mapped out. Rarely found in this solution is the organization's culture or the manager's input. While we think the manager should be impressed with our expertise and insight, we need to remember that they expect to be part of the solution.

Try using a blank sheet (or more) of paper to sketch out the issues, influences, and solutions. Engage the client in laying out these components and encourage them to even pick up the pen and contribute to the drawing. It is amazing how much more connected a prospect of client is to the solution, and to you, when they shared in the solution. This approach takes nothing away from your expertise and even enhances your image because you appear to be come up with answers from your vast storehouse of knowledge.

Tip: There's no harm in practicing your "impromptu" sketches, and if you are not the artistic type, you might give the pen to one of your colleagues.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  communication  customer understanding  meeting preparation  presentations  proposals  sales 

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#263: Revisit Your Marketing Collateral

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Over the years I have developed a great collection of white papers, blogs and feature articles. I consider these timeless advice and descriptions of my services but I am wondering whether they need to be updated.

After even a few years, you should review your collateral to see if it is dated. As much as you are proud of your work, business practices, technology and consulting approaches evolve. Even if your service is the same high quality as it always has been, and your clients are still satisfied, managers will evaluate the relevance of your services in terms of how it relates to those of your competitors (who will make sure their services are "up to date").

Tip: Perhaps more than anything else, it is terminology that must be reviewed. Imagine a client who is approached by a consultant offering to provide TQM (Total Quality Management) or ADP (Automated Data Processing) services. These are extreme examples of terms that stopped being used decades ago. In some cases, updating the nomenclature is not enough and the entire concept of the piece may need to be revised.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  customer understanding  intellectual property  marketing  presentations  product development  sales 

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#262: Looking Ahead in Your Practice

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I have been in consulting for 15 years but am starting to consider about when I leave my firm for other pursuits. I am not ready to start formal exit planning yet but want some simple tips to help me think about the 10-15 years.

There are lots of books on exit planning for consultants but probably the best guide is colleagues who have recently left the profession. Take advantage of their perspectives, each of which will differ depending on their industry focus, discipline and practice management approach.

One way to start your thinking in the right direction is what we generally ask our clients to do (you know, "physician, heal thyself"). Describe your business as if you were going to sell it today. What is your run rate, client contract backlog, proprietary processes, relationships, key staff, reputation in the market, position for new areas of practice, etc. Now, given where your business and marketing plans are aimed, describe your business along those exact same metrics in 5, 10 and 15 years. Are these really where you want to be when you leave your company (either by sale or by just folding up shop)?

Tip: Most of us will resist this exercise because we live in the present and near future. You may well find that your business plans do not connect your current status to these future scenarios. This is the first test of how well your plans will get you to your 5 year objectives. It is simple enough to do, but the simple act of writing down performance metrics for selling the business will change your thinking about the current and possible future value of your business.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  planning  practice management  your consulting practice 

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#261: Your Client is a Critical Part of Your Project Estimates

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, March 15, 2010
Updated: Monday, March 15, 2010
Our consulting firm has a detailed and very successful project planning methodology but some projects are compromised by the client's lack of cooperation or commitment of resources. How do other consultants deal with this?

Your situation is common. Consultants who say they never experience this are likely executing projects that they are doing by themselves without much client interaction. Work with clients should be a joint effort. Consultants provide expertise, perspective, information and methodologies. Clients provide culture, history, facilities, staff expertise, and so on. Both are necessarily involved in the engagement to improve performance.

One good approach is to include the client resources in you project plan. Consider the entire project and be explicit about how many and what kind of client hours are required. Some clients don't fully consider their own time required when you say you want to do a few focus groups, then realize that they are committing to hundreds of hours of staff time. This is as much a project cost as your fees.

Tip: This is a professional and ethical issue, in essence a matter of full disclosure. Failing to clearly detail what hours, skills, facilities, information and risks a client is expected to provide is an insufficient project plan. Show your client that you consider full costs in your planning. More than one client of mine has said that they have never had a consultant include these costs in their proposals and they really appreciated my doing so.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  customer understanding  goodwill  planning  proposals 

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