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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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#89: Shifting Your Network into Reverse

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, July 9, 2009
Updated: Thursday, July 9, 2009
I know how important networking is for a consultant, both on behalf of individuals and their firms. We do a good job collecting intelligence and leads to keep our pipeline full. How else can we leverage our network?

You seem to have a handle on one aspect of networking - the inbound flow of information, contacts, introductions and referrals. In this way, you use the knowledge, information, and influence of others for your benefit. However, a network, by definition, works in many directions. Have you considered using your networks to pass information and influence in the opposite direction?

What about using members of your network(s) to pass information to your marketing and sales targets? Once you have identified a company, association or agency for which you would like to provide services, see where you can use your network to validate, recommend or support you?

Tip: As a complement to your own "inbound" networking plan, consider preparing collateral for your network members about your services, how to reach you, and testimonials about the value of your services. Let them create demand for your services, in addition to providing you with a supply of referrals.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  client development  communication  networks  presentations  recommendations  reputation  sales 

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#82: Consulting to Boards

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Many times my recommendations to executive clients are second-guessed by their Boards. Are Boards themselves prospective clients?

The traditional role of the executive is to plan and manage operations and the role of the Board is to govern. That does not mean that some boards are operating or managing Boards, or that they don't sometimes use consultants for advice.

Some areas in which a consultant might advise boards include:
  • Leadership development
  • Board meeting management
  • Board effectiveness evaluation
  • Board recruitment
  • Communicating with key stakeholders (e.g., funders for nonprofit boards, regulators for corporate boards)
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Financial or ethical compliance
  • Providing expertise on legal or financial responsibilities
Tip: Look through any of several Board periodicals such as Board Member or Board Source (for nonprofit boards). These magazines publish articles, blogs and forums on current trends and needs of Boards.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  market research  marketing 

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#81: Use AIDA for Greater Influence in Marketing

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, June 29, 2009
Once I get in front of a prospect, I can make my case pretty well, but how do I make myself stand out in the approach and introduction?

The traditional copywriter's approach of "AIDA" works quite nicely for consultants. If you look at a well written advertising letter, defined as one you read all the way through, you will see how this works. AIDA stands for:
  1. Attention: Provide something that assures that they see you as different from all the other demands on their time. This is the purpose of a great headline in an article and a hint of your value proposition. One example is starting a sentence with "Do you ever . . .?" aimed at a problem you know from your research your prospect faces.
  2. Interest: What is it that will pique the prospect's interest enough to decide to commit a few more minutes really looking at your offer? Is it research data, or maybe the fact that you have just completed a similar project for a competitor? Here is where most consultants lose a prospect by not transitioning from the intellectual to the emotional basis of wanting to see more. Another interest-generating tactic is to stop talking long enough to engage them in the conversation about the issue. Establish your credibility.
  3. Desire: This is where a prospect begins to see him or herself as receiving and benefiting from the results of your services. You job here is to help the prospect imagine themselves in a world where they have already accomplished what you are proposing. Let them know that their competitors are using this kind of approach, or that there is a limited opportunity (if true) to capture the benefit you are offering.
  4. Action: Another place where consultants lose a prospect by not closing the sale. Even if you can help a prospect see him or herself in a desired future state, sometimes other constraints block them from pulling the trigger on an engagement. Now is the time to help them overcome inertia and see themselves taking action to get started. This is where you use statements like, "We can get started with the focus group next Thursday" or "I could review your speech to the District managers and add in our latest research."
Tip: This works as well in your proposal letters of agreement. Even after you have reached agreement on the scope and terms of an engagement, exerting some more influence is always helpful. This agreement is often the only documentation a client retains from the discussion and having a cogent sequence of AIDA to start the letter will remind your new client why they engaged you.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  marketing  proposals  prospect  sales 

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#74: Being Ready for a Conversation About Your Services With Any Prospect

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, June 18, 2009
I don't have a brochure or hardcopy sales collateral (those are "so 1990") but instead rely on my website for prospects to get a full description of my services. Is this sufficient, especially since my services vary so much, depending on the client?

Just because a sales or marketing strategy is old does not mean it is not effective. Recognizing that a website can provide more dynamic and extensive descriptions than your sales package, consider the purpose of such hardcopy collateral. It serves more than just a source of information, which your website is probably most capable of providing. Having

To a prospect, your brochure or flyer is something tangible (a piece of paper) to represent an intangible service (management consulting). Having a one page (and only one side, at that) focuses attention on a few key benefits or features of your services. You can elaborate, as appropriate, in your discussion but the prospect needs to be clear about what it is you are providing. If you can't get this reduced to a few core principles and benefits, you may not really understand your business value as much as you think. The exercise of "writing a brochure" is not so much in the having as in the creating. Dwight Eisenhower said that “plans are useless but planning is indispensible.”

Tip: At all times, have a one page description of your services. If needed, you can have more than one, but each needs to be complete in itself. Be prepared to use this as a talking guide to review your core services and how these services would be adapted to each client's needs. Your sales presentation will be more refined as a result, with each discussion following a familiar path. After each discussion, adapt and improve your one-pager as needed.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  marketing  planning  proposals  prospect  sales 

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#73: How to Get Your Clients to Call You a Second Time

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I have had some great clients that offer glowing referrals but rarely call for more services. One could read several things into this - either these clients got such great service that they just don't need my services again or something worse. How can I tell?

It is usually dangerous to try to ascribe motivations to others without at least some confirming information. When the opinions or conclusions you seek are related to your skills, abilities and services, this conflicts with your objectivity. It will be hard to ever know whether you are truly valued or not by your clients unless you have established a trust relationship with them. Only then can you talk openly about what your client's expectations and how well you have previously or can in the future meet them.

Some types of services are just one-time opportunities, so the lack of follow up does not mean your services were not appreciated. Be realistic about why you may or may not get a second call. The client may need a series of services, of which yours is only one. You can be of as much value by providing the right referrals to the right services (other than yourself) at the right times. This is why having a strong network of other consultants you know well is so important. Clients will remember you when you get them the expertise they need, even if it is not you.

Tip: Knowing if you are valued enough for follow-on work begins by setting clear expectations at the outset of the relationship. Talk about your desire to provide, if appropriate, services over the long-term and explore how/whether you might be able to do this based on your developing understanding of the client and his/her situation. Ask to be able to check in occasionally after your first engagement is compete. However, do this on the basis of having something of value to offer, not just asking "hey, got anything else for me to do for you?" Keeping up with emerging client needs will give you a stream of ideas that will increase the likelihood that you will get that second call.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  client relations  client service  consultant role  customer understanding  referrals 

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