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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 

#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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#601: How to Know Which Organizations Can Most Benefit From Your Help

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, July 4, 2011
Updated: Monday, July 4, 2011
Looking back across two decades of consulting clients shows a range in success. Some clients were both committed to change and others were less so, and still others varied in their ability to change. How does a consultant know which prospective clients are worth the effort to support?

This is a factor in consulting most of us never consider. Clients assume that if they are facing a crisis or a lull in performance that a good consultant can improve things. Consultants also assume that if their experience and skills are appropriate, then they should be able to help just about any client. There is a critical logical deficit in this thinking that every consultant should think about before taking on a client.

Not every organization is in a position to take a consultant's advice or, even if they are listening, to implement and sustain such advice. The leadership needs a certain level of awareness to understand what improvements are possible, and the organization needs a certain level of operational performance to implement recommendations. Not all organizations are in this position. Whether leadership is incapable or unwilling to talk about leadership, strategic or cultural issues or the organization functionally is not in a position to implement, there are some clients who will not improve despite your best efforts.

Perhaps more important is your helping establish the social and operational foundation before you suggest sweeping performance improvements. If the client is willing to accept that change may require hard work on personal and social issues and to put in place operational processes that make it possible to even see how your recommendations would apply, then you have a chance of doing good. If your prospect is not even willing to prepare the ground for your change recommendations, then this organization is unlikely to benefit from your talents.

Tip: Consider a "Goldilocks" strategy. Organizations that are too strong (e.g., too flush with cash and on a growth tear) may be unwilling to accommodate improvement recommendations because they fear losing their streak. Organizations that are too weak in leadership, culture or operations may be unaware or unwilling to profit from your help. Your ability to best help is with organizations that are "just right."

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  customer understanding  marketing  performance improvement  prospect 

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#593: Get a Fast Start When Consulting to a New Industry

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Every so often I get a client with whose industry I am unfamiliar. I am a process improvement specialist, so this is not a problem, but I would like to get into the industry culture and perspective more than just talking to my client. Suggestions?

Your client and your colleagues who work in that industry are your first choices. Getting the culture of your client's organization is as important as the climate of the industry overall. However, I understand that you want to get a broader, industry wide perspective.

There are two quick resources (among many) you could turn to. One is the relevant trade associations, of which there are often one or more for any given company or industry. Probably the most comprehensive sources is Thompson Gale Publishing's Encyclopedia of Associations, which has over 4,000 pages of descriptions of the more than 100,000 nonprofits in the US (there is an international version as well). Unless you plan to pursue lots of new industries, this annual directory is something you might look over at a library, where you can take advantage of other industry directories to which the research librarians can direct you (university or business school libraries have lots of access to proprietary databases as well, if you can arrange for access to them).

A second source, and one that will give you some deeper insight over a longer period of time, is an industry's periodical (again, many industries have more than one). For example, the petroleum industry has more than 25 publications covering a range of industry segments. A source to help identify available periodicals is BNET, the Business Network. BNET's website lists hundreds of industry publications. Some of these are free and some are subscription based. 

Tip: Since some of these may take a few weeks to begin arriving if you are considering hard copies), you may be able to subscribe to newsfeeds from them. This will provide you with not only the top stories from the print periodical, but also additional up to date news between issues. Feedzilla is a great utility to access feeds or build your own feed.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  learning  market research 

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#579: Pay Attention to Culture Even Within Your Own Country

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, June 2, 2011
Updated: Thursday, June 2, 2011
I get that consultants should attend to cross-culture issues when doing business in foreign countries. However, in some cases, there are cultural issues from region to region within one's own country. Aren't these also important?

They absolutely are. Although perhaps the biggest (and potentially most embarrassing) gaffes occur in misunderstanding across nations, the need to understand your audience does not go away within one's own country. It is more than just differences in dress, language, business customs and how one conducts a meeting. It extends to how one uses technology, expectations about making and keeping commitments, and tolerance for lateness.

With a global business audience, a person's ethnicity, country of origin, and the region of your own country in which they generally conduct business all flow together to create a unique social construct for each person. No longer can you say, "He is from Germany so he will behave like X." or "She has worked in the southern part of the state, so she will not mind Y."

Tip: Despite all the books that claim to tell you how to deal with a person from country X, recognize that each person is more complex and requires a nontrivial bit of research to best understand how they work and think. Consider it like dating, where you spend some time understanding someone before deciding how best to develop a relationship.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  business culture  client development  customer understanding  market research 

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#545: Keep Your Referral Pipeline Full

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, April 15, 2011
Updated: Friday, April 15, 2011
Competition among consultants makes new clients harder to come by these days and companies seem to take longer to hire consultants. How can I hear about opportunities as soon as possible?

Learning about potential engagements early means having someone "on the inside" looking out for you. If this isn't someone who actually works for a prospect's organization, it means having people who know the organization well - and know what you could do for them. We are talking about referrers.

First of all, let's talk about what referrers are and what they are not. They are not limited to people you approach at networking events and ask for referrals. These contacts rarely know you well enough to make effective referrals.

Instead, look for people who understand the role of a management consultant and would be able to describe both you and the value of the services you provide. We hear about how you should develop a broad list of potential referrers, such as your mail carrier, dentist, and college roommate. This may work for the best known and common professions but this approach is less effective for management consultants.

A complete referral strategy is more involved than this tip can explain but I suggest you identify a dozen people you are confident understand what you do and the value of your services. Next, provide them with a list of about a dozen target companies for which you would like provide your services and (this is important) for each company, include a short description of what service you might provide and what value each services would provide. A sentence or two for each company is about right.

Tip: The value of this exercise is two-fold, but only if you actually complete it. First, writing it down helps you focus on specific targets, services and value you might provide. Second, it puts you on record with an explicit list of referrers, with whom you should check in regularly. Once you have this list under control, meaning that people on your list are really looking out for you, consider making separate lists for different aspects of your practice.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  marketing  networks  proposals  referrals  sales 

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