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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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#73: How to Get Your Clients to Call You a Second Time

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, June 17, 2009
I have had some great clients that offer glowing referrals but rarely call for more services. One could read several things into this - either these clients got such great service that they just don't need my services again or something worse. How can I tell?

It is usually dangerous to try to ascribe motivations to others without at least some confirming information. When the opinions or conclusions you seek are related to your skills, abilities and services, this conflicts with your objectivity. It will be hard to ever know whether you are truly valued or not by your clients unless you have established a trust relationship with them. Only then can you talk openly about what your client's expectations and how well you have previously or can in the future meet them.

Some types of services are just one-time opportunities, so the lack of follow up does not mean your services were not appreciated. Be realistic about why you may or may not get a second call. The client may need a series of services, of which yours is only one. You can be of as much value by providing the right referrals to the right services (other than yourself) at the right times. This is why having a strong network of other consultants you know well is so important. Clients will remember you when you get them the expertise they need, even if it is not you.

Tip: Knowing if you are valued enough for follow-on work begins by setting clear expectations at the outset of the relationship. Talk about your desire to provide, if appropriate, services over the long-term and explore how/whether you might be able to do this based on your developing understanding of the client and his/her situation. Ask to be able to check in occasionally after your first engagement is compete. However, do this on the basis of having something of value to offer, not just asking "hey, got anything else for me to do for you?" Keeping up with emerging client needs will give you a stream of ideas that will increase the likelihood that you will get that second call.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  client relations  client service  consultant role  customer understanding  referrals 

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#49: Conserve Your Sales Resources

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, May 14, 2009
Updated: Thursday, May 14, 2009
How can I stretch my marketing and sales activities and budget?

In most cases, referrals are more powerful routes to to clients than prospecting. A referral carries with it an implicit endorsement from the referrer and gives you an advantage over someone who reaches out to a client without a referral. Given, that, your best strategy is to focus on the mechanisms to cultivate and maintain referral sources. There are a few ways to do this.

First, understand who is likely to be a referral source. Small businesses are busy and may not have time to help you out. New businesses to a market won’t have built their referral networks. Conversely, trade associations or chambers of commerce have broad contact with their industry or profession. Vendors, if you are not competing with them, can be great referral sources.

Second, understand what you need to do to get referrals. We sometimes assume that a referral source is eager to help us based just on our reputation. Although this might be true in some cases, you are better off making sure there is something in a referral to both the referrer and the target. Making a referal requires trust that you are both good and ethical over the long run. This means cultivating referral sources with repeated and consistent good service. Do good work and make sure you let your referral sources know about it.

Tip: Set as a target to get 50-75% of your new clients from referrals. Start with a list of your target clients and work backward to find types of and specific referral sources. Make this a formal, written plan to identify those referral sources for whom you have already or can demonstrate that making a referral will not put them at risk. Finally, develop the tactics that will assure that the referrer benefits from making that referral.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  market research  marketing  proposals  referrals 

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#930: Surround Yourself With the Right People

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, November 27, 2008
Updated: Sunday, December 14, 2008
I have a pretty good professional and personal networks. They provide a good way to refer work to others and receive referrals as well. How can I move my network up a notch?

First, be clear (this means writing it down) what you think is the goal of your network(s). People use them in different ways and the "next step" could be different for each network objective.

Objectives could include referral targets, useful to you because companies will come to you because you can always find the right consultant (if it isn't you). A network can also provide you leads, assuming you are clear about what type of leads you seek and those in your network are clear about your needs. There is also a network of people who can provide you technical, market or trend information when you don't need expertise, per se, in the form of a consultant. There is a use for a parallel network where you are the source for information, be it for media, government, nonprofit or other "non consulting" entities, for whom your expertise is valuable.

Tip: Given list of your objectives, name five people for each objective that come to mind immediately as the people who could help you or be helped by you. If you can't come up with five, do a little research or ask others in your current networks who they consider their dream team of advisers and contacts they want to be in their networks. These should be people you wouldn't normally consider in your network; they would be more visible, moreinfluential, and more in need of your services or information.

Pick only one off the list and contact them with a few ideas of how you could work together. Spend a few weeks developing this new addition to your network and evaluate your approach to growing your connections. Every few weeks (your pace may vary), pick another person and work them into your network. Based on this success, reevaluate the others on your network and recalibrate how helpful you can be or they can help you.

© 2008 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  networks  referrals 

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