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It starts with image. Prospects may not realize that you or what you do exists, yet may need your services. Thus, every interaction with any other person is an opportunity to make an impression of a reliable advisor; to market your firm and its services.
Image is supported with
follow up. You always want to send:
1) an article (preferably something written by a member of the firm),
2) an email (preferably a firm newsletter),
3) an invitation (preferably to firm-sponsored events), or
4) firm updates relating to what you think may interest them.
If the firm doesn't have anything, send something from another publication or partner firm.
Following-Up + Meetings
Following up is constant. You shouldn't call asking if they're satisfied with their consulting services provider. Remember, you're not selling copy machines; you're cultivating an image and relationship that the prospect will want to exploit. In order to see any results from this approach, it must be repeated this way every time, many times.
Your initial goal must be to get face-time with a prospect (meals are best, firm office visits are recommended. Meeting at prospect site presents opportunities for distractions).
Upon meeting, keep the following in mind:
1) ask prospect questions to determine if they've got authority to engage a consulting firm, whether they've worked with other firms and the results, as well as their sentiments towards the relationship (are other engagements ongoing or past?)
2) allow prospect to probe during meetings; do not sell. This is an opportunity to showcase firm research. Senior managers have tons of problems daily and if they care about solving them, they seek council, not to buy ideas.
3) re-direct conversation to how they need ideas and insights that relate to our service.
4) get prospect to agree with you on what you say they need. Most importantly, position them as the lead change agent in their organization, with you the secret weapon, the deliverer of ideas and guide during execution.
Meetings- and following-up- quotas per week are helpful. It is strongly suggested that senior level partners implement quotas in their teams.
What exactly is it that
a management consulting firm offers? It's not a tangible "product"
that can be demonstrated visually. And your attempts to explain will take a
different shape every single time. To encapsulate the value you'll deliver as
a consultant, here are some suggested, brief explanations:
- "thought leadership"
- "sustainable competitive advantage"
- "the transfer of experience faster and more efficiently"
- "persuading corporate executives to adopt improvements faster" - Marvin Bower
- "outsourcing responsibility" due to the enormous amount of information that requires specialization, which is difficult to keep on top of.
- "accelerate process by which economies stay competitive"
- "active translator of ideas, but systemizer and implementator, to bridge between people and business"
- innovation is rampant inside organizations (particularly at the bottom), but no vehicles exist to extract and implement
- "consultants learn, teach/transfer knowledge, then drive to action"
In other words, you're
a teacher and you've got all the authority and credibility that comes with that
role. Ultimately, facts and opinions are the only real "products"
offered by a consultant or any advisor. Prospects and clients rely on us to
keep them updated on relevant trends, insightful research, and innovative business
processes (collectively called the "latest thinking") so they can
stay competitive. Consequently, perpetual "thinking" is imperative
to the success of the firm.