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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 

#288: Getting Some Quick Consulting Work

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I just got started in consulting and am looking to jump-start my practice. I am willing to do all the things you've been suggesting, but I need some immediate cash flow or I won't make it. Any ideas?

Here are three suggestions that might help:
  1. Go to your largest prospect(s) (or industry association) and offer to do a study/analysis for them, one that they would find valuable and offer to do it at whatever they would be willing to pay. Don't negotiate. Get them to agree the study/analysis might be valuable and show them why you are uniquely qualified to do this and that the fee can't be a problem since they will set it.
  2. Offer to put together a unique seminar for your field and ask for a one-time development fee, and reasonable fees for presenting it, granting the sponsor co-ownership of the IP (intellectual property).
  3. Send a letter to your top ten prospects and make them an offer they can't refuse, i.e., delivering results or your fee is zero.
The focus here is results that these prospects feel are credible based on the way presented and your background. Don’t forget: these are very short-term strategies and you should let the recipients of your communications understand the rationale, i.e., you are just getting started and willing to do this now. Later they will be standing in line (if you do all the smart things we suggest, and you come up with and deliver results for clients).

Tip: This is a great test of your consulting services' market value. However, make sure you circle back to confirm whether your clients felt that they got their money's worth. Many will pay you want you and they negotiated but you might be pleasantly surprised to hear that you were worth more than they paid. Who knows, they might even be willing to change the payment to something closer to the value received.

P.S. This may also work well in slow times for etablished consultants.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  marketing  proposals  prospect 

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#264: The Power of a Blank Sheet of Paper

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, March 18, 2010
Updated: Thursday, March 18, 2010
I probably do what most consultants do when pitching their services - lead with some probing questions and then provide a slide deck (the appropriate one based on prior conversations) for discussion. It meets all the needs of a pitch but what could we do differently to give us an edge?

Consider that the client is looking for to solve problems or transform their organization. As executives or managers, their responsibility, and presumably skill set, is in making those changes happen. Think of how that manager feels when a consultant comes in with the "solution" already mapped out. Rarely found in this solution is the organization's culture or the manager's input. While we think the manager should be impressed with our expertise and insight, we need to remember that they expect to be part of the solution.

Try using a blank sheet (or more) of paper to sketch out the issues, influences, and solutions. Engage the client in laying out these components and encourage them to even pick up the pen and contribute to the drawing. It is amazing how much more connected a prospect of client is to the solution, and to you, when they shared in the solution. This approach takes nothing away from your expertise and even enhances your image because you appear to be come up with answers from your vast storehouse of knowledge.

Tip: There's no harm in practicing your "impromptu" sketches, and if you are not the artistic type, you might give the pen to one of your colleagues.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  communication  customer understanding  meeting preparation  presentations  proposals  sales 

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#261: Your Client is a Critical Part of Your Project Estimates

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, March 15, 2010
Updated: Monday, March 15, 2010
Our consulting firm has a detailed and very successful project planning methodology but some projects are compromised by the client's lack of cooperation or commitment of resources. How do other consultants deal with this?

Your situation is common. Consultants who say they never experience this are likely executing projects that they are doing by themselves without much client interaction. Work with clients should be a joint effort. Consultants provide expertise, perspective, information and methodologies. Clients provide culture, history, facilities, staff expertise, and so on. Both are necessarily involved in the engagement to improve performance.

One good approach is to include the client resources in you project plan. Consider the entire project and be explicit about how many and what kind of client hours are required. Some clients don't fully consider their own time required when you say you want to do a few focus groups, then realize that they are committing to hundreds of hours of staff time. This is as much a project cost as your fees.

Tip: This is a professional and ethical issue, in essence a matter of full disclosure. Failing to clearly detail what hours, skills, facilities, information and risks a client is expected to provide is an insufficient project plan. Show your client that you consider full costs in your planning. More than one client of mine has said that they have never had a consultant include these costs in their proposals and they really appreciated my doing so.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  customer understanding  goodwill  planning  proposals 

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#248: Cold Calling for Consultants

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I have read in previous tips that you don't advocate cold sales calls. Why?

Because the alternatives are better. Cold calls work best to "find" a possible customer, e.g., insurance, telephone service, air conditioning services ... mostly commodity type services. But the rejection rate is extraordinarily high (though it can be time efficient for those commodities when using low cost screening techniques). We are professional consultants. Our audiences are higher level professionals with whom we want to make a rational, if not emotional, connection. Telemarketing consulting services do not send the right message.

Preferable is the "warm" call. Trade off your lack of an existing relationship with a prospect for a compelling reason for them to talk to you. Do your research, either on the company or the industry. Give the person an intriguing, no obligation opportunity to get something at no risk and no (except for their time) cost. Let them know of the work you have done and ask if they have considered applying that in a specific (this is the key) place in their current operations. Don't just say "I do XXX, and wonder if you could use something like that at ABC Inc." Tell them that you have been reading that they are having a hard time/or looking for an opportunity and you have some experience with this, and it occurred to you that if their XYZ division, which according to their annual report has declined in new product introductions for the past three years, could introduce PQR in first shift plants, you could show how to . . ."

Tip: Give something to the prospect that demonstrates that you are interested in their company and your capabilities/results are applicable. This is the first foray into building trust. Remember, there is a lot more "free" to compete with than ever before and you need to participate in that. The cold call comes off as "I want something from you,” which comes across a costing them a lot more than free.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

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

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#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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