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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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#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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#437: Consulting Humor: Give Specific and Directive Advice

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Second of five very telling jokes about consultants and how to avoid them being told at your expense.

It is important to be clear, specific and directive about your advice to clients.

The procurement specified, "Seeking one armed consultant, with technical skills and industry experience."

The consultant called up the prospect to inquire about the engagement. She said, "I understand most of the qualifications you required, but why 'one armed'?"

The client replied, "I have hired too many consultants who tell me one thing and then tell me 'on the other hand . . .".

Takeaway: Be confident in your assessment and primary recommended course of action. There are always options, but you should be experienced enough to understand the implications of each and select the one you will stand behind.

See more at (or contribute to) IMC's Consulting Humor blog

Tags:  advice  ethics  presentations  recommendations  sales 

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#436: Consulting Humor: Explain Your Fees

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, November 15, 2010
Updated: Monday, November 15, 2010
Since humor is based on pain, old and well worn jokes about consultants tap into some uncomfortable truths about how some clients perceive our services. We are well advised to pay attention to the implicit messages in this week's jokes (Yes, we'll do jokes all five days. Trust us, there are a lot more).
The dominant value of management consulting services is in diagnosis, not necessarily in implementation services.

A company had a boiler that was working intermittently. They tried everything they could do but nothing worked. Finally they called in a consulting engineer, who they knew to be expensive but the best in the business.

He arrived and set to work studying the boiler, checking connections, temperatures, and overall operations. He then stepped back, stroked his chin and after a few minutes, made a mark on the side of the boiler. He then picked up a sledge hammer and took a full swing and hit the mark.

The boiler gasped and sputtered, then started to work perfectly.

The consulting engineer then gave his bill to the client. The boss was shocked and said "I'm not paying $1000 for hitting a boiler with a sledge hammer." I need to see a detailed invoice.

The consultant's bill: "Hitting the boiler: $25. Knowing where to hit the boiler: $975." (This is an old joke; each time it is told, the prices go up)

Takeaway: When setting billing rates, explain to your client that much of what you are being compensated for is diagnosis. The 10-20-30 years of experience you bring drives to a solution that the client or consultant can then implement. Consultants get a bad rep when they try to diagnose without enough experience and then try to prescribe solution without enough skill.

See more at (or contribute to) IMC's Consulting Humor blog

Tags:  fees  proposals  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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