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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 

#942: The Follow Up Call

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, December 15, 2008
Updated: Monday, December 15, 2008
I am building a prospect pipeline with a contact application and have prepared for a series of networking events to attend to kick off my initial contacts. Other than capturing the names and relevant information from people I met and consider potential leads, what else do I need?

You are off to a good start. Capturing leads in a formal way, whether it is on a ruled sheet of paper or in a software contact manager, is essential to managing a prospect pipeline. A box of scraps of paper and business cards as a strategy for getting clients is looking for trouble. Let's not get into how the contacts make it into your list, but the critical next step after first contact: the follow up call.

Following up means doing it before the memory fades (yours and theirs) and doing it in a way that leads to a higher probability of a good business relationship. Once you have identified a person who is marginally qualified, you should follow up to set a time to discuss a mutual business relationship. This is your chance to decide whether and how you commit valuable time to pursue the relationship or you will drop them in the "cool" (as in not worth pursuing right now) contact list.

Tip: The follow up call should be done within 3-5 days, preferably the next business day. You should have a follow up call script that includes a reiteration of the circumstances that brought you together, the premise of why your two businesses might productively work together, your interpretation of pressing needs of the other person (and questions you could ask to verify), an example of work you have done that relates to this need, an offer of a contact or piece of information of value to the other person (goodwill), a possible working relationship you could mutually benefit from, and suggested next steps to move toward a working relationship. Preparation and some forethought, along with not letting the prospect get cold, are the keys to turning a business card stuffed onto your pocket into a live prospect.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  contact information  goodwill  marketing  process  prospect 

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#939: Staying on Top of Trends

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2008
What are some places to look to stay on top of emerging trends?

As the saying goes, if you can't start trends, then at least keep up with those started by others. Where to keep up with trends depends on your industry or profession. Each industry and profession maintains a number of publications, if not full associations for practitioners. Most of these are known to the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) or are listed in the Gale Encyclopedia of Associations.

But maybe more important than accepting what other people consider are important trends, why not look through materials that will allow you to divine some emerging trends based on your expertise? You do have expertise and perspective as a consultant to management in specific areas. It is reasonable to conclude that, presented with certain facts, you could just as easily spot a trend that others, lacking your perspective, would miss. Let others readabout your vision of what's to come. At a minimum, when you publish a well articulated prediction of the future and justify it with your own reasoning and facts, you will get both support and rejection. However, at least you will have created visibility for yourself (and a new network of people also engaged in the future of the industry or discipline about which you wrote).

Tip: Make a habit of regularly browsing through general magazines, especially at year end, when many publish "top trends," "what's coming next year," or "people in the news" type articles. You are not necessarily looking for items exactly about your profession or industry but rather for those parallel or connected trends that might have an impact. Whether it is Popular Mechanics' Tools and Gadgets for the coming year (ideas about what lifestyle consumers are aiming for) or Harvard Business Review's Breakthrough Ideas for the coming year, keep a list of publications and websites to look through every few months to keep yourself looking beyond the horizon. If you are really ambitious, spend an afternoon some time browsing through market research sites like Plunkett's or data sites like StateMaster to look for trends in the economy or demographics related to your industry.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  marketing  trends 

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#936: Are You Ready to Deliver Your Pitch

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, December 5, 2008
Updated: Friday, December 5, 2008
My track record of getting appointment with prospects is pretty good but there are times the pitch just doesn't go over very well. I always do my research and have a lot of ideas ready to pitch but, more often than not, they just don't seem to connect.

Experienced consultants develop protocols for much of what they do. After many years of delivering similar services, they have honed efficient setup and processes for delivering most of their services. For some consultants, however, this push for well-defined processes seems not to apply for prospect meetings.

You say you do your research on the prospect ahead of time but you also say you arrive with lots of potential ideas. This may be where you run astray. Think of it from the client's perspective. They have lots of issues to deal with but probably only a very few they are prepared to talk to you about. To a prospect, your talking about a lot of things you could do for them sounds like you are selling yourself, not solving their problem. If you really have done enough research, you will know the top three issues the prospect needs to address. If you are the right person for the job, then you will have a very tightly scripted pitch to get right to the point of pain. Doing that will keep prospects focused on what you can do for them, not what they need to do for you.

Tip: If you can't identify 1-3 issues the prospect has a passion for, has a need to fix, and lacks the capability in house to solve, then you don't know enough. It may be that you could meet with the prospect to listen and gather more information, but it is better to understand the issue well enough to be able to craft your rather robust process to solve it. Finally, it is worth the effort to dry run your pitch. Don't consider practicing your pitch something a novice consultant does. The confidence you gain from a perfectly practiced pitch wears off onto the prospect.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  marketing  prospect  sales 

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#931: Perfecting Your Brochure

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, November 28, 2008
Updated: Sunday, December 14, 2008
I have never used marketing collateral to publicize my business, instead relying on word of mouth. Yet, most articles talk about having a website and brochures, and doing webinars and podcasts? Is any of this necessary?

First, congratulations on having a consulting practice sustainable by word of mouth. If this circumstance brings you a steady stream of challenging, lucrative and socially productive work, then that's great. If this is not the case, then having these pieces of collateral, per se, may or may not be useful. However, going through the exercise of creating them may well be.

Here's what I mean. Ask most consultants what they do, why they do it , how they do it , and who they do it for and you can expect a 15 minute (if you are lucky) explanation. Very few have a clear, concise and "get-to-the-point" description of who they are. Part of this is due to not finding the words that resonate with a wide audience. Being able to say, "I create secure supply chains for transpacific container shipping companies by combining personnel training, integration with your current information technologies and performance tracking systems" is a lot clearer than "I am a supply chain consultant."

Tip: You may not have a brochure, nor need one, but the process of having to put down on a single sheet of paper who, what, where, and why you do is not as simple as it sounds. Give it a try and do two things. First, map this explanation against your last five engagements. Does your practice description capture what you did for these clients and the value you delivered? Second, pass your practice description by about five clients or colleagues and ask them if they recognize you (possibly uniquely) in your description. If not, go back and rework your "brochure." Even if you never use it as an actual brochure, you will have a clearer way to explain the core value you really provide.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  marketing  publicity 

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