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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 

#548: Selling is Just as Much a Skill as Consulting

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, April 20, 2011
My most enjoyable days are when I am heads down in a consulting engagement, working with the client and my colleagues solving a tough problem. But days I have to generate business are among the worst. Help!

First of all, you are not alone. Consultants often say that they like consulting better than selling. However, you need to get clients to be able to help them. And, the selling skill-attitude cycle is a hard one to break.

We like certain things, so we spend more time on them and, in turn, get better at them, further increasing our enjoyment. Things we don't like get less attention in our reading, are the subject of fewer discussions with our colleagues and receive less of our education budget. Assuming you are not going to pay someone to develop business for you, you'll need to tackle this head on.

Selling is a profession just like consulting. There is a body of knowledge, best practices, professional associations, and recognized certification. Just as you would reserve judgment on someone who said they are a consultant without any experience or continuing professional development, you should also question your own skills in sales unless you actively developed and enhanced your selling skills.

Consider developing a personal consulting selling skills education plan. It could include conferences and webinars like those offered through IMC USA, companies that focus on marketing and selling professional services like RainToday or a professional association, like the United Professional Sales Association. Use these resources to better understand why selling (intangible) professional services differ from selling physical products.

Tip: Recognize that you will need selling skills, but also that it is the attitude you bring to sales activities that determines whether you will engage on a lifelong process of improving your selling ability. The attitudes that make a great consultant and a great sales person are different. This is why, as good as you might be at both of these activities, switching between them on a day to day basis creates dissonance for most of us. One way reduce this impact is to consciously recognize that you are leaving consulting mode and moving to selling mode, and vice versa. Another is to switch back and forth less frequently (e.g., plan on certain days for marketing and selling, others for consulting).

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  education  marketing  practice management  professional development  sales  your consulting practice 

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#530: Mind Your Ethics When Creating Case Studies for Clients

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, March 25, 2011
Updated: Friday, March 25, 2011
My client has asked us to provide case studies to use in training his internal consulting staff. He specifically asked that they be based on my own experience and to include how I handled the situations. Should I be worried about using the situation of my other clients?

Absolutely. Setting aside your client's desire for you to use your prior client experiences, there is a serious ethics issue here. You are obliged to protect data and, in most cases, even inferences, about your client's operations, products and even business strategies or plans. Even with your best attempts to redact facts and "fuzzy up" strategies, someone who knows the market of your client may be able to piece together who you are talking about. And, your clients may even prefer you not divulge the nature of your work with them.

It is better to create cases that don’t relate to your clients - at least don't relate one case to one client. Remember, it is perfectly appropriate to create case studies that are entirely fictional. Think of the standard movie disclaimer "All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental."

Tip: You can only use prior client experience if your prior client signs off on your case write-up and its use for training your (specified) current client. You are better off advising your client that professionalism prevents you from the fact or appearance of divulging potentially proprietary information.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  education  ethics  teaching/training 

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#430: How Good is Your Decision Making?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, November 5, 2010
Updated: Friday, November 5, 2010
After nearly thirty years of management consulting, I consider myseslf to have good perception about client issues and to be an excellent decision maker. When is it OK to trust my instincts and when should I turn to others for verification?

Asking means you are aware that you might not be as good a decision maker as your experience might indicate. In fact, many of us overestimate our perceptiveness or decision making accuracy. Think you are a good decision maker? Let's see.

Answer the following ten questions with a numerical range (one low and one high number) that you are 90% confident contains the correct answer (i.e., there is at most a 1 in 10 chance your range is too small). Next Monday we'll provide the answers so you can see whether your decision making confidence is warranted.
  1. Length of the Nile River (in miles)
  2. Diameter of the moon (in miles)
  3. Weight of an empty Airbus 380 (in pounds)
  4. Year in which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born
  5. Gestation period of an Asian elephant (in days)
  6. Air distance from Chicago to Shanghai (in miles)
  7. Year the first spacecraft landed on the moon
  8. Area of US national parks (in square miles)
  9. Year in which Attila the Hun died
  10. Average population density of the US (in people/sq mi)
Print out this tip and next to each numbered item write a lower and upper bound estimate (no Googling the answers!). Check back Monday.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  assessment  education  knowledge management  planning 

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#385: Debunking Myths

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, September 3, 2010
Updated: Friday, September 3, 2010
Why is it so hard to get clients, or colleagues for that matter, to believe the findings of assessments or research? Some people seem to stick to what they think they know and not open up to new evidence. Am I just not presenting it in the right way?

The saying "Logic can't displace what was learned by emotion," means that once someone is emotionally invested in an idea, it is hard to present facts and expect them to change their minds. Speaking of minds, we all know that we only use 10% of our brains.

This is not true. And it never was. It is a myth that even many doctors believe, having heard it so many times. Whether started by misinterpretation or intent, certain "facts" are hard to change in people's minds. The 10% (or 5% or 15%) of our minds that we use is likely Dale Carnegie's misinterpretation of Karl Lashley's experiments with rats in the 1920s to see how much of the brain could be removed without impairing function. Even though the result was that very little of the brain could be removed without impact, some rats could relearn tasks with most (but never as much as 90%) of their brain removed. And so the myth was born, for purposes of self improvement, that we used only a small amount of our potential and, through diligent effort, we could improve ourselves.

Repeated enough times, this 10% has become a "fact" that, even now, you are probably thinking that you need to see some hard evidence that the 10% is not true - even though you never saw any "evidence" that the 10% number was true.

Tip: Be prepared to back up your findings with logic and fact, but most of all, bring an understanding of where the "myths" came from that you are trying to overcome. Only when you understand why someone believes something will you be able to develop a strategy for debunking those myths.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  education  knowledge assets  learning 

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#326: Post Conference Planning

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, June 14, 2010
Updated: Monday, June 14, 2010
Even though I am an experienced consultant, conferences are a key part of my practice regeneration and networking strategy. However, although I do meet interesting people, get great ideas and learn about what is going on in my area of practice, I think the value does not last as long as I'd like.

For many consultants, a conference is an important strategy to develop new skills and new business. However, many of us think of conferences as expenses and not investment. We conclude that we are spending a few days "away from our business" and we need to get back to work as soon as we can to "make up for the lost time."

There is a better way to look at this. First, you are taking time to work on your business so you are best served by leveraging the information you gained and people you met. You don't visit a prospect or client without a well thought out plan of how the event will go; do the same for a conference. Have a plan and work it.

Second, the time right after the conference is potentially the most productive. On the plane ride home, send a follow up email to each person of interest you met (you can knock out 30-40 short emails that will be appreciated and may result in a response waiting for you by the time you arrive home). Go through conference material and note the items you think can best help your business - and toss the rest. Go over your preconference plan and see how you did, making notes for the next conference to gain even greater value.

Tip: Tip: Don't come home and put your conference binder on the shelf and toss collected business cards in a drawer. Schedule a half to whole day immediately after you arrive home to consolidate all you learned and connect with your new contacts.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  education  professional development  teaching/training 

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