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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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#21: Hiring a Development Person to Help You Sell Your Services

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, April 6, 2009
I have heard that some consultants hire a "marketing" or "business development" person to help them sell their services. Does this really work?

First, what do you mean by "work?" Do you mean can a person you hire to make calls to prospects get you appointments? If so, then the answer is definitely yes. Giving someone a script with a compelling case of why your consulting services are needed and having them pitch your services for you can save you some time. Business development services can range from just making appointments to helping you with your pitch and using their contacts to identify prospects. Such a person can be especially helpful if you are a poor salesperson or have limited contacts. Financial arrangements range from flat fee, to an hourly rate to a finder’s fee. You are buying, at a minimum, sales time and, at best, access to prospects you otherwise would not have.

However, the success of this approach can be compromised by two factors. First, given that consulting is a relationship business, you will still have to make the final sale. If you cannot articulate a clear value of your services or close the sale with a prospect, then appointments are unlikely to translate into engagements. Second, relatively few management consultants provide such standardized services that can easily be sold by someone else. Exploring the nature of the prospect's business and circumstances is much easier to do yourself and this is where the relationship building starts. Although not a representative sample, I have heard clients say that having another person sell your work strikes them as unprofessional.

Tip: There are aspects of business development you can certainly outsource. You can have someone advise you on prospects, help you with your marketing research or sales materials, even coach you on closing the sale. However, as a professional, you need to develop the relationship with the prospect from the beginning.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  consultant role  market research  marketing  proposals 

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#9: Turning Your Marketing Message Upside Down

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, March 18, 2009
What are some ways to reach clients when they are so focused on a defensive posture? I know we'll all come out of this eventually, but my positive message of opportunity is not getting through.

Maybe you just need to stop fighting against how your prospects are feeling. They feel what they feel and it's not up to us to tell them they are wrong. We can present facts about our services, our expertise, our satisfied clients and our potential to do great things for them. However, we would do well to recast our message in terms to which they are now tuned.

This is not a trivial exercise. It is not a global search and replace on a word processor to replace "build your market" with "defend your current customers." Consider the now famous film ad for Argentine Presidential candidate Lopez Murphy in which two very different messages are found when reading the same series of phrases forward and backward. Be creative in how you recast the bad news in the market into good news related to your services.

Tip: Instead of starting with your brochure and your elevator speech, start with what is on managers' minds. Look at consumer and business confidence reports, business magazine, Conference Board or trade association press releases. What do they say is the typical executive's greatest concerns? Use those as talking points and describe how, with your help, you can address the very things they fear most. Turn the message upside down.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  innovation  marketing  proposals  prospect  sales 

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#1: Break Your Services Into Parts For Faster Sales

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Sunday, March 8, 2009
With consultant hiring slowed at large consulting firms and even boutique firms seeing delayed starts of projects, where are the best places to look for new client engagements?

In any market, your best opportunities come by identifying a prospect's points of pain and bringing expertise to solve them. In a disruptive market like 2009, even clients with solid businesses have different concerns than in normal times. Now the concerns of employees, creditors, suppliers as well as those of management are of concern. Your ability to bring these issues into sharp relief is your ticket to a motivated buyer of consulting services.

Read the concerns of managers in the business press. Their first thoughts turn to managing risk: preserving budget, using credit sparingly, doing more with less, hiring smart, and generally hunkering down. Risk management, however, also means not taking a chance on a consultant who says they can help with those issues. You will need to do more than just promise results; you'll need to work out a clear, highly focused, short time frame approach with tangible results. No more long windup, diagnostic-focused, training-rich, casual-pace engagement plans.

Tip: Instead of shopping your traditional services in search of a need, think about breaking them up into their parts. Each service should have a clear line of sight between a specific point of pain, applying your expertise and producing a tangible result and ROI. Propose each part as a standalone service, each with specific benefits and show how these results resolve a specific pain.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  marketing  proposals  prospect 

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#998: How Strong are Your Management Practices?

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, March 2, 2009
As clients get more serious about hiring the best consultants, I am seeing a lot more emphasis placed on project and financial management instead of just the technical approach and technical qualifications. How should I play this?

You are not alone. It used to be that you could just explain your approach, that you were qualified and provide a list of references. Not any more. It seems in every recession, companies want to be sure you can manage your own affairs as well as theirs. They often want you to explain your staffing, quality, cost and schedule controls. They want to see something to assure them that you have business continuity and risk mitigation strategies in place, especially for larger and higher profile projects.

This is something you should be ready to provide to prospective clients. At a minimum, think about each of these practice and project management functions and how you do, could, or should manage them. Where will you go to acquire and train additional staff? How do you control costs? How are your project communication systems integrated into your project management systems? What mechanisms do you have to assure that your work activities are monitored for quality control and work products are quality assured? These do not have to be elaborate (for small projects or practices they won't be) but you need to have thought these through, if not implemented them.

Tip: Start with the basics: cost, quality, staffing, schedule and risk. What can you say about how you manage each of these in a typical project? What is the most likely, or most disruptive, thing that could happen to negatively affect your client? What systems do you have in place or procedures could you quickly implement to maintain the project to the standards to which you committed? Write these up and refine them over time.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  planning  project management  proposals 

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