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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 

#230: Make Sure Your Services Are as Good as They Look

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, January 29, 2010
Updated: Friday, January 29, 2010
As a solo practitioner, I can't compete with the resources of large firms. They can put together slick proposals and work products and the client is going to assume that glitz equals quality.

I understand your concern but disagree with the premise. First, you would be surprised to know that more than one client has disparaged these glossy, graphics laden reports. In fact, federal government procurements actually prohibit elaborate or expensive proposals. Just as people joke that they know they are paying the overhead that goes with expensive furnishings in high rent building for their lawyers, they also are uncomfortable paying for sizzle without the steak.

Second, your relationship with your client and their trust in you usually carries more weight than your work products. If your client is more wowed by a PowerPoint spectacular than the weight of your conversations, questions, analysis and your change management outcomes, then you might ask yourself whether you have the right client. This does not mean that your work products should be sloppy or unprofessional. Give your clients exactly what they need and don't try to cover any deficits with fluff.

Tip: If you want to feel better about the pretty masking the real, check out this now famous Dove commercial showing what is behind the attractive image.

Tags:  client relations  client service  communication  competition  proposals 

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#84: Look Out Below: Fending Off Low Priced Competition

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, July 2, 2009
Updated: Thursday, July 2, 2009
The current consulting market and availability of technology has created a surge of low priced consultants. I am sure my services are much higher value than these "competitors" but I don't take them lightly. What should I be doing?

There are two ways to look at this. On the one hand, regardless of how good you think you are, the client is the ultimate arbiter of the value of your services. If a low priced competitor has "good enough" services for a lot of managers, then that is the main market in which you work. On the other hand, if there are enough prospects who find your services particularly high value and are willing to pay for them, then you may be in a sufficiently big enough market of your own.

However, don't discount the fact that there is a steady pressure to commoditize consulting services. Organizational assessments used to be a custom job until the advent of well-researched web-based assessments. Personnel assessments are the same. Business plans still require experience and insight but many managers are moving to low priced software that structure the plan, provide financial analysis, and compare the planned enterprise against current market standards. Financial analysis or project management by computer can get a manager most of the way to their objective before a consultant is called in.

Tip: This is a rising quality of competition that you must pay attention to. Pick up a business planning package or assessment service to see how your services compare. Become familiar with these "competitors" so you can be clear about how your services differ. If necessary, you may have to adjust your prices to the "new normal" or find ways to add services that can't be duplicated by software or standardized processes.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  competition  customer understanding  innovation  market research  marketing  sales 

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#80: Management Consulting Certification as a Competitive Edge

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, June 26, 2009
After 40 years in consulting, I am seeing some significant changes in the way clients evaluate and select consultants. As large firms shed partners into boutique startups and demand for specialization increases, firm pedigree is losing power in exchange for individual certifications and registrations. Where is the CMC in all this?

For several decades the Certified Management Consultant (CMC®) designated the individual management consultant's skills, experience, client satisfaction, technical competence, consulting skills and behaviors and adherence to a high standard of professional conduct. While it was recognized to a varied degree in the market, it did represent the international standard for management consulting in over 40 countries with large consulting markets. With the increasing need for quality standards has come a closer look at both the technical qualifications of the individual consultant as well as the behaviors and skills in the process of consulting.

The impending specification for certification of management consultants in Europe is moving into its final phases, and ISO 17024 certification of consultants is close behind. Even large consulting firms are looking to find some competitive edge as they emerge from the recession in the US. Suddenly an internationally standard certification of consulting excellence and ethics that enjoys reciprocity in a global market has caught the interest of firms who want to stand out. The CMC is emerging as an increasingly important differentiator and the firm with the majority of its consultants certified is recognized as a collective mark of excellence and market value.

Tip: Consider the client looking to hire a consulting firm. Which would you find more attractive, the firm recommended by a colleague staffed by people you didn't know much about, or the firm who had publicly committed to international standards of excellence and ethics, most of whose consultants had met those certification standards tied to the management consulting competency framework? If the pace of new CMCs China plans to put into the marketplace is any indication, certification will be a key differentiator. Whether a large firm or small, the CMC® provides a competitive edge.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  client relations  competition  customer understanding  ethics  marketing  professionalism  prospect  quality  reputation  trends 

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#952: We Can't See What We Don't Look For

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, December 29, 2008
My partner and I run a boutique consulting firm with essentially no competition. We are looking to expand and wonder what markets are likely to have similar low competition, sort of a "Blue Ocean" strategy.

Claims that "we have no competitors" are fairly common among small consulting firms. At first glance, this would seem to be because service quality is so exceptional and client access so robust, that no other firm could hope to break into this gravy train. What is more likely is that the market for services is so provincial that it is overlooked by any serious competitors.  This is not a bad thing, but shouldn't be mistaken for noncompetition.

Service commoditization, globalization, fast cycle mimicry of new services - all are trends that may make a consultant's small parochial market in danger of being invaded. Around the world, native species of plants and animals are being overwhelmed by invasive species. Most of these invaders have been ignored by most governments, despite warnings from biologists. Finally, after commercial losses have mounted into hundreds of millions of dollars, suddenly snakehead, kudzu, lionfish and melaleuca are household words to farmers, ranchers and fishers. So much for protected "markets."

Tip: If we presume there is no competition for our services, we will never see it coming when it does. Be proactive and ask your clients if they didn't use you to provide advice and technical services, who would they use. How would they go about finding another source, including insourcing, to receive what they receive from you. Conduct a survey in your space of what consulting services are most valuable for your industry. Then, ask how users of those services would cut expenses or increase speed or breadth of service delivery. If you think hard enough, you may come up with some troubling answers on your own. But don't presume you are free from competition.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  competition  planning  sustainability 

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