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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 

#351: Be First in Something to Stand Out as a Consultant

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, July 19, 2010
Updated: Monday, July 19, 2010
I'd like to increase my visibility as a consultant. I do great work. I just don't seem to get as many leads as I would like, and don't convert many of them to clients. What would you advise?

Although strongly endorsed and disputed as a good strategy for diversified corporations, Jack Welch's desire to "be number one or two or get out of the business" has an element of merit for consultants. While you don't actually have to be first or second among consultants globally, you can corner the perceived top rank in some intersection of discipline, industry, geography and mode of presence (i.e., how you interact with the public or prospects).

What would you do if you wanted to be the "Number One" consultant in your field in both perception and reality? What would you do? What do other "top of the heap" consultants do? Make a list then pick those areas you could pull off. Here's a starter:
  1. Speak at more events.
  2. Write more articles.
  3. Plug the holes in your own repertoire of skills and experience by building up one or two to be your premier offerings.
  4. Network more intensively but selectively at industry events and wherever your prospects are likely to be.
  5. Communicate through P.R., letters, e-mails, your Web site, personal notes, phone calls but make them notable and valuable to the recipient, not just a throw-away greeting or thank you.
  6. Volunteer to serve on one or tow committees where your prospects are likely to be and where you can build both skills and reputation.
  7. Write a book, special report, study or anything that is valuable to your audience and will get the attention you need (and offer it for free as a contribution to the profession or industry).
  8. Think "making deposits before taking withdrawals." It isn't automatic for most of us to give altruistically. Make a list of all the ways you can contribute.
  9. Get listed, do interviews, get your name out there.
  10. Be unique. Specialize. Have a "hook" by which you are uniquely identified. One highly regarded collection of approaches to make your offerings really stand out is POP!: Stand Out in Any Crowd
Tip: This is a starter list but add to it depending on your industry, discipline or command of media. Of course it is hard, but the point is for you to stand out from the crowd and that means focusing on one area and putting in a lot of effort.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  brand management  client development  market research  marketing  product development  proposals  reputation  sales 

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#345: How Much Do Consultants Need to Compete?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC, FIMC, Friday, July 9, 2010
There are thousands of consultants and business advisors against whom I compete, each with a different focus and competitive advantage. How am I supposed to compete against them all?

This is a great question that reminds me of the joke of "How fast do you need to run to escape from a bear?" The answer: "Just a little bit faster than your friend." You don't have to be the best in all markets, capabilities, technologies, etc. to be effective. You just need to be better (i.e., more valuable to a prospective client) than the alternative. Look at any athlete, actor, surgeon, chef or painter. They are judged - by the person evaluating or receiving the service - as having the right skills, applied in the right way, at the right time. A universal evaluation standard does not exist.

Rethink your strategy. Instead of starting with your abilities and figuring out how to enhance them to beat others, look at a prospect and figure out how to provide greater value than they are currently receiving. The recipients of your service are totally disinterested in your skills except to the extent that their condition is better in the future than it is now.

Tip: Compete against the service received by your prospective clients instead of service providers like yourself. Focus on the nexus of service between you and the client and not on either one by themselves.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  consulting colleagues  customer understanding  marketing  prospect  sales  your consulting practice 

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#328: Consulting Among Friends

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, June 16, 2010
How do you respond to consulting colleagues who, with no prior relevant experience, take on contracts in your area of specialty and then come to you for help? Am I being competitive by not wanting to share my years of education and experience that give me an edge?

It is difficult to see someone with less experience serving a client for whom you presume you could provide better service. There are two responses, either of which might reduce the odds of this happening in the future.

First, determine how the client selected your colleague instead of you. What does your colleague provide, in the client's eyes, that you do not. It may be that you are not known to the client and your colleagues was the only presumably qualified consultant available. In this case, (sort of) shame on you for not having a better market presence, and it is something you can address. On the other hand, consultants usually think they are selling competence, when in fact clients are buying confidence. There are lots of consultants around with enough skills and experience, many with more than enough for the job at hand. It is possible that the client trusts your colleague even without the superior technical expertise you know you have.

Second, decide under what conditions you will help your colleague with your expertise. Treat them like any other client for whom you would devote time. Of course, you can provide 15 minutes of general advice as a friend, but at some point it becomes paid consulting. Just like you could ask a friend who is a doctor about what kind of flu is going around without feeling you are crossing the line, but you wouldn't want to ask them to do a complete physical outside of a professional setting.

Tip: Respect the client's choice of consultant. Treat it as an opportunity to learn and grow. As to your friend, offer to work together for a fee - don't be embarrassed about asking, since this is what you do for a living and you invested a lot in the acquisition of that knowledge.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  consulting colleagues  learning  proposals  prospect  reputation  your consulting practice 

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#318: Getting the Attention of Prospects

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I am doing what I believe is a competent job of marketing and making myself visible to prospects but competition is pretty fierce. How can I make my offering stand out more?

Getting the attention of a potential client or prospect can sometimes be challenging. This can often be achieved by making the extra effort and doing research to identify their concerns or needs and addressing them directly within the title of a presentation or agenda for a discussion.

When visiting an existing client or new prospect, the goals for a practitioner are to a) have the client pay attention and take him or her seriously, b) have the most relevant people attend the discussion or presentation, and c) have a receptive audience that is very interested to hear what the consultant has to say. If you specifically address the most pressing issue(s) or concern(s) in either the title of a presentation or in the agenda for a discussion, you might be surprised at how successful you are at achieving these goals. Here are some examples:
  • "Potential Solutions for Increasing Marketing ROI Within the Next 6 Months Using _______ (prospect's competitive advantage)"
  • "Focusing on the Customer: Re-evaluating Your Customers Key Expectations and Requirements in the _____ Market"
  • "What _______ (prospect's) Competitors are Doing to Capture Your Market Share"
Tip: Try putting yourself in the shoes of the client or prospect and attempt to determine in advance what their top concerns are. By linking your agenda or presentation directly to these concerns, you have a much better chance of key personnel attending and listening to what you have to say. "I would like to come by to talk about my consulting services" or "I would like to come by to talk about how you might re-energize your recent ad campaign." Which would get your attention?

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  customer understanding  market research  marketing  proposals  prospect  sales 

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#317: Know Your Client's History

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Every so often I get a client that spends a lot of my team's time going over company history and what every consultant before us has done for them. How do I politely decline what seems to be burning up a lot of time when we could be working?

There are several things you could do. First, with respect, it is the client's choice how to spend your time. If they feel it is important to let you know about their history and how they got to where they are now, think about why this is a problem for you. It may just be the thing you need to help you understand where their head and heart are with the changes about which they are asking you for advice. Consider that their need/desire to go through their history says a lot about the importance they place on tradition, process and company history.

Second, hearing about what they have tried and why it worked or did not is invaluable. You are there because either internal or consultant-aided change processes have not worked, or at least have not persisted. The success of your design depends on how well you understand why past efforts failed, and whether your approach is likely to work under current conditions. In many cases, clients may not have really understood the approach a prior consultant was taking and this was cause of failure. Knowing your client and how they have related to consultants is important and is well worth whatever time they are investing to help you understand this.

Tip: Consider it a gift to have a client willing to spend time and attention reviewing where they came from and how they have tackled this problem in the past. This should already be a key part of your inbrief with any client. Don't shortcut the process.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  client relations  customer understanding  learning 

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