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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 

#472: Competing With Insourced Consulting Practices

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, January 4, 2011
This goes in cycles, but it seems that we are in a phase of companies shifting from external consultants to building their own consulting divisions internally. How can external consultants compete with that?

Competition with an internal consultant is no different than it would be with any other source of management advice. If your value to the client is greater than that of alternatives, then you will likely be invited to serve that client.

First, consider why companies are shifting to internal consultants. Most often it is perceived to be a savings in costs, specifically the hourly rate. Although on an activity based cost basis (including facilities, training, overhead, backup staffing, etc.) the costs may appear to be close, the client often does not see it that way.

Second, consider the environment in which insourcing companies find themselves. This is often both a cash preserving and cultural issue, meaning that managers prefer to not spend budget outside the company at the same time they may be laying off staff or cutting salaries. Better to retask current staff, even if they may not have all the expertise an external consultant might bring.

Tip: The solution is to do more research than normal about the client's consultant selection rubric. Is this insourcing a temporary issue driven by the CFO, a culture issue driven by the HR Director, or a strategic move by the CEO? Remember, when everyone is changing how they use consultants, this brings uncertainty and risk to all. Don't give up when the client says they have decided to insource consulting. Help your prospective client clarify the issues and true costs (including opportunity costs) of retasking a valued staff member to replace outside expertise.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  client service  prospect  sales  trends  your consulting practice 

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#452: Explaining What a Management Consultant Does

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I have what I consider a clear "elevator speech" or "value proposition." What I am not so confident of is my ability to express in the next 2-3 minutes what I can do for a client. What I do is pretty complex and depends on the client's need but I seem to fumble the explanation.

This is not unique. In the absence of specific details on the client situation, needs, capacity for change, resources, and history, it often requires some restraint for a consultant not to reply "it depends" in response to an inquiry of "what can you do for me?"

Where we get tied up is in balancing a clear general response with our wealth of knowledge and experience in similar situations. This is not the time to tell everything you know, especially since, until you know more about the situation, your experience may or may not be relevant, or the information premature.

Explain to a high school senior what service you provide to managers and businesses. Ask them to explain back to you what you do, and be open to clarifying questions. A blank look from them or a flurry of clarifying questions will tell you a lot about your success in explaining yourself. Once you can explain your service in a way that doesn't require specialized knowledge, you will have the basis for a 2- 3 minute introduction to your services.

Tip: Removing all the jargon, historical examples, and arcane references to the best practices literature on consulting will give you a clear, understandable and concise pitch that connects on an emotional, not intellectual, level. And remember, it is not what you do that is interesting, but what the client becomes as a result of what you do, that is of greatest interest.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client relations  communication  marketing  proposals  prospect 

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#441: Try This Simple Marketing Exercise

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, November 22, 2010
Updated: Monday, November 22, 2010
Try the following exercise. On a piece of paper, list the most compelling reasons a prospect should hire you as a consultant over all other competitors.

If your list contains things like experience, education and training, or an inventory of the services you provide you've probably missed the most powerful answer you can give - what you can do for the prospective client in terms of performance results. Of course, these results will be based on the things you can do well, your experience, your education or training, and your previous accomplishments. These support the primary reason a prospect will hire you - the confidence they have in your ability to deliver the results you have described.

Tip: You will help establish and implement a process that is projected to reduce defects by x%, or you will help design a training program that will increase overall engineer test performance by a minimum of 15% over last year's cumulative results. Examples like these are the true reasons consultants are hired to achieve the client's desired results. Always support your projected results with a clear and confident description of how you intend to achieve them. This is where your proven skills, experience, education, and training come in - to build the client's confidence in your ability to execute your planned approach to achieve the results expected.

Remember - first focus on identifying the prospect's desired results, and then figure out what specifically you will do help them achieve these results. Finally, build your prospect's confidence in your ability to achieve the results by pointing out your previous experiences, skills, education and training, etc. in which you delivered those specific results.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  marketing  proposals  prospect  sales 

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#429: Get Paid to Generate Your Own Leads

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, November 4, 2010
Updated: Thursday, November 4, 2010
I wrote a series of white papers that I offer through my website. My intent was to have people who read these papers be sufficiently impressed or intrigued that they retain my services. People are certainly downloading, but no one is buying. What's wrong?

Your strategy is good in principle. Combining a bit of research with a summary of your expertise and ideas about trends or key issues in an industry is a good idea. Clients appreciate the perspective and data, and logic would suggest that if they find the content interesting, they'd want to learn more. However, people buy on emotion rather than logic. Here's a slight variation on your strategy that may make it more effective.

Tip: What if you charged a few dollars for your work? I don't mean charging $100, $50, or even $30. Think about $5 for a 10-page white paper. This taps into the psychology of buying where people perceive greater value for the "second cheapest" and "second most expensive" products. To many, free means limited value and many who download your white papers may never consider them valuable enough to open and read them.

Charging $5 for a report looks like a loss leader (especially if you compare it to a much more expensive research report or trend report you offer on your site). The money is minimal but the emotional commitment to your research or opinion is much higher than it would be if it were free. Your leads are much more qualified, your products are more likely to be read, and you make a few dollars to offset some costs.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  intellectual property  market research  marketing  product development  prospect  sales 

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#423: Get Client Recommendations That Have Value

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, October 27, 2010
All my clients are willing to provide references to my future prospects. However, since I don't know what aspects of my work will be important, I'd rather not get a generic recommendation, so am reluctant to ask for a written recommendation.

Since management consulting is based on trust, a recommendation is important. Almost every prospect will contact a reference, whether or not you provide a written recommendation or not. The absence of a written recommendation can only hurt you in comparison to glowing references in your competitors' proposals. Assuming references are appropriate for your type of work and the bidding process, have a few written references on hand.

You make a good point about generic references. They are so common and often written so blandly that they could apply to anyone. Take a look at references for other consultants and select formats address personal, professional and work styles. Consider if you were hiring a consultant (maybe you would for a subcontractor or teaming partner). What would you want to know up front: Are they easy to get along with? Technically competent? Ethical? Committed to consulting as a profession? Able to react to changes in the scope of work? Effective communicator? And so on.

Tip: Providing your client a recommendation to be signed is unethical. However, you can provide a set of attributes or qualities (similar to those referred to in the questions above) to which he or she can address if they are comfortable. Advise your client how you plan to use the reference and ask whether they want to be informed in advance of your using it (e.g., they may not want a competitor to know of your relationship, or want a heads up if someone will call). Inactive clients appreciate being asked and it is a good way for you to update them on your recent work.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  client  client development  client relations  market research  marketing  proposals  prospect  referrals  reputation  sales 

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