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Tuesday, 4 May 2010


I recently advised a client on a procurement and imagine my surprise when they said they said they thought it 'unfair' that we reccomended that suppliers should be word limited on their responses. I explained that limiting words meant that someone had to actually write a specific response rather than simply cut and paste template content and that this simple policy would very much highlight which suppliers were focused on the project. Guess what, I was right and the procurement achieved the result everyone wanted, a good solution, value for money and a motivated supplier.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Brevity or thunk ?

I recently had reason to review another organisations consulting proposal and was reminded of just how some firms really bulk out proposals unecessarily with consulting speak and graphics to look impressive, also sometimes known as giving the proposal the 'thunk factor'. The reality was that this document was proposing a review and as you may know all reviews will follow the same discovery, analysis and reccomend/report stages. What clients care about is what are you going to deliver and not pages and pages of process ! The value clients are looking for being the interpretation of what you find, using your experience to reccomend actions that will actually work and deliver value and of course understanding how best to position the key messages so that it is palatable and easily understood.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Marketing consulting services

In my view, many consulting firms web sites and marketing campaigns are weak and the reason I think for this is that unless you specialise in a niche market and have a niche proposition, it is very difficult to develop compelling value propositions for consulting services. This is because every client and every situation is unique and so consulting firms typically end up using one of two approaches to the market. The smaller firms marketing tends to be concentrated on positioning limited capabilities as evidenced by previous work ie. case studies. Smaller firms will typically then deliver a custom solution for every client. The the big firms tend to market a vast list of services and capabilities and then use a 'cookie' cutter approach to delivery. Given consulting is about leveraging the right skills, experience and trust relationships many firms still dont emphasise their people enough in their marketing.

Friday, 16 April 2010

What makes a good consultant ?

A lot of people ask me about this and for me it is simple. A good consultant is always happy to provide some useful advice to a prospective client before agreeing any terms. A good consultant also will always be able to describe an understandable step by step process that they will use to deliver results and will also be happy to offer you good references from work they have done before. Finally a good consultant will be objective and unbiased, continue to be interested in how you are doing after they have delivered and will always be happy to share knowledge with you and your team as they work through a problem.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

So when do people use consultants ?

Consultants are just temporary resources that companies use to get things done, or they should be. In the past some consulting firms have been accused of bad practice by effectively becoming virtual employees that have taken over their clients business ! Good consultants will be able to articulate clients problems and then describe an approach and apropriate methods to getting those problems resolved. Issues arise when clients dont understand how to best to work with and motivate consultants, or think that simply hiring contractors will somehow work. Contractors, dont get me wrong, are fine when the problem and the solution is really understood by the client, but where this is not the case, hiring a consulting firm will always deliver better value for money and get better results.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Thoughts on relationships

Do you really need a pre-existing relationship with someone to sell them advisory services ? Many people say yes and work on the basis of only hiring people who can demonstrate they have pre-existing relationships. But, whilst selling consulting is about leveraging relationships, what is more important is the quality of the relationship, crucially it must be a TRUST relationship. Anyone, no matter what level in an organisation must trust in you to buy consulting from you, as failure when using external advisors is typically career limiting ! My experience is that you can build a trust relationship with someone you do not know quite quickly as long as you employ effective approaches and methods. The good news is that for the most part believe me, you will already be aware of how to do this.

Thoughts on getting started

There will be many of you who like the idea of a career change, selling your knowledge and working as a management consultant. Well, many of my colleagues will say you have no chance if you have not been trained by a 'proper' consulting firm .... thats just crap frankly ! Its true it gives you a great advantage, but you know, if you have been effective in your career so far, the chances are you already have most of the skills you will need. Getting started in consulting is just like starting anything new, except remember that to be really effective you have to be equally as good at sales as you are at delivery, so be prepared !