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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 

#529: Think Twice About Discounting Consulting Services

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, March 24, 2011
Updated: Thursday, March 24, 2011
I have been successful winning new work recently by offering discounts. I am assuming that once I become known to the client, I can go back to my full rates. Is this your experience?

There are several issues here, first of which is your conclusion that discounting rates constitutes a "success." It is more likely that you have landed a client who values discounts at least as much as your work. If they did truly understand the value you bring to their organization, you wouldn’t have had a discussion about cutting your fees.

Discount chasers can, and always will, be on the lookout for other discounts. At best, you should consider discount shoppers only for cash flow and not those clients for whom you can do your best work and grow your capabilities. Furthermore, you are likely to be resentful of having to discount your fees when, as a professional, you will still provide top quality service.

Second, don’t assume you can raise your fees once a client comes to know you and love you. For the same reason as above, your relationship is built on that discount, not on your full value. If you do succeed in raising your fees, then it is likely at the expense of resentment from the client at your new "higher" fees being paid for the same service.

Tip: If your fees are fair and market-based then you should focus on better explaining why they match your value, not send the message that you believe your services are worth less than your full asking price.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  client development  fees  market research  proposals  reputation  sales 

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#494: Make Positioning Your Consulting Services Clear

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, February 3, 2011
Updated: Thursday, February 3, 2011
Too often consultants try to be all things to all people and, as a result, lose credibility. But what happens if you do a lot of different kinds of consulting work spanning more than one specialty area? What's wrong with being a generalist?

There is a time for being a generalist and a time to be a specialist. You might appear to be useful to a wide prospect base if you are not too specialized but your best value comes from providing a deeper, more nuanced and forward looking expertise in a specific field. Some consultants have separate, customized biographical information that they use for each of the different audiences they serve. For example, they might have one bio for speaking engagements, another for mailing to specific category prospects. Also, you might have general processes for diagnostic work and different service sheets for each industry segment.

That said, you may be a generalist in marketing your services, but recognize that your client is hiring you for a particular problem that requires specific skills. Once you are engaged and into a project, you will need to shed the generalist mindset and narrow your focus. The more you consider yourself a generalist, the more you will have to work to narrow that focus once you start to serve the client.

Tip: You can't be all things to all people, but you can be different things to different people. Position yourself appropriately for each audience and, once you are engaged, keep focusing to provide more value in increasingly narrower areas of need.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  consultant role  consulting process  engagement management  marketing  proposals 

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#482: The Day Will Come When You Leave Your Client

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Despite the possibility of offering more consulting services, for some clients we have done all we can and it is time to end the relationship. Any tips on how best to do this?

Above all, make the exit a well managed one. Just reaching the end of the current task, submitting a final invoice and saying your good-byes is not enough. Three areas are worth attending to:
  • Fulfill and document all work commitments to assure your reputation for integrity remains intact. Make sure the client has the data and tools to fully implement your
  • Conduct an orderly "social" exit, in which you spend enough time with key client staff to make sure they understand and can implement your work products and processes. Explain the terms under which they can contact you for additional assistance and the basis for your departure.
  • Make a plan to connect with those individuals from client staff who have moved on and the terms of how they may use your services in the future. Specifically, it is likely that when they left the employ of your client, you were precluded from working with them in their new jobs. You may be obligated under contract with the client you are about to leave to limits on how you may contact them and/or work with them. These terms may change with your departure so you should be prepared to reengage with them as appropriate.
Tip: Spend plenty of time with your primary client sponsor leading up to your departure. To smooth the transition, especially for clients you have served for several years, talk about what services you will no longer be providing and how (if needed) those skills and services will be replaced by client staff or other service providers. Make sure they are fully aware of all the value you have provided. Finally, express your gratitude for the opportunity to provide services during your tenure.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  client relations 

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#441: Try This Simple Marketing Exercise

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, November 22, 2010
Updated: Monday, November 22, 2010
Try the following exercise. On a piece of paper, list the most compelling reasons a prospect should hire you as a consultant over all other competitors.

If your list contains things like experience, education and training, or an inventory of the services you provide you've probably missed the most powerful answer you can give - what you can do for the prospective client in terms of performance results. Of course, these results will be based on the things you can do well, your experience, your education or training, and your previous accomplishments. These support the primary reason a prospect will hire you - the confidence they have in your ability to deliver the results you have described.

Tip: You will help establish and implement a process that is projected to reduce defects by x%, or you will help design a training program that will increase overall engineer test performance by a minimum of 15% over last year's cumulative results. Examples like these are the true reasons consultants are hired to achieve the client's desired results. Always support your projected results with a clear and confident description of how you intend to achieve them. This is where your proven skills, experience, education, and training come in - to build the client's confidence in your ability to execute your planned approach to achieve the results expected.

Remember - first focus on identifying the prospect's desired results, and then figure out what specifically you will do help them achieve these results. Finally, build your prospect's confidence in your ability to achieve the results by pointing out your previous experiences, skills, education and training, etc. in which you delivered those specific results.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  marketing  proposals  prospect  sales 

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#423: Get Client Recommendations That Have Value

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, October 27, 2010
All my clients are willing to provide references to my future prospects. However, since I don't know what aspects of my work will be important, I'd rather not get a generic recommendation, so am reluctant to ask for a written recommendation.

Since management consulting is based on trust, a recommendation is important. Almost every prospect will contact a reference, whether or not you provide a written recommendation or not. The absence of a written recommendation can only hurt you in comparison to glowing references in your competitors' proposals. Assuming references are appropriate for your type of work and the bidding process, have a few written references on hand.

You make a good point about generic references. They are so common and often written so blandly that they could apply to anyone. Take a look at references for other consultants and select formats address personal, professional and work styles. Consider if you were hiring a consultant (maybe you would for a subcontractor or teaming partner). What would you want to know up front: Are they easy to get along with? Technically competent? Ethical? Committed to consulting as a profession? Able to react to changes in the scope of work? Effective communicator? And so on.

Tip: Providing your client a recommendation to be signed is unethical. However, you can provide a set of attributes or qualities (similar to those referred to in the questions above) to which he or she can address if they are comfortable. Advise your client how you plan to use the reference and ask whether they want to be informed in advance of your using it (e.g., they may not want a competitor to know of your relationship, or want a heads up if someone will call). Inactive clients appreciate being asked and it is a good way for you to update them on your recent work.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  client  client development  client relations  market research  marketing  proposals  prospect  referrals  reputation  sales 

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