Category Archives: Consulting Sales

Doing Your Consulting Homework

consulting homework
Doing your consulting homework

We all grew up having homework to do.  Despite the advice from our parents and teachers to do it, some of us did it more than others. And it showed in the long run.

When I was a senior in college preparing to interview with hiring firms, I heard the advice to do my homework once again.  This time it wasn’t as easy as the assigned homework I had received in school.

I remember being confused when college advisors told me to “do my homework” on companies I was interviewing with.
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Why Would You Need a Consultant?

need a consultant
There are many reasons why you would need a consultant

I’ve known people in the business world that don’t believe in using consultants.  These people believe that consultants are over-priced hacks who “borrow your watch to tell you the time”.  Like any industry, there are consultants that provide poor service and give their industry a bad name.  When a company pays anyone to provide a service, they need to do the due diligence to make sure they can do what they promise.  But once a company finds a consulting firm that is good at what they do, their rates can often scare them away.  So why would anyone in their right mind pay those high consulting rates?

Why you would need a consultant

Let’s look at three main reasons for which an organization might hire a consultant

To bring in an expert

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Consulting Priority: Billable Hours

billable hours
Consultants should focus on billable hours

Once, early in my career, I was a project manager on a billable project. One Monday, I got a call from the partner in charge of my project asking why I had billed only 36 hours the previous week instead of the minimum 40 hours to the project.

Using non-billable hours

I explained to him that I had three consultants outside of the project who reported to me and that I had spent four hours working on their performance evaluations.
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Developing Trust With Conflicting Priorities

Conflicting Priorities
Developing Trust With Conflicting Priorities

Why is it that when I ask for a waiter’s recommendation, they suggest one of the most expensive things on the menu? I suppose it’s possible that the most expensive items are the best. It’s basic supply and demand economics. But I always suspect that they’re more interested in jacking up the bill – and in turn, their tip – than in finding me the ideal meal. Their conflicting priorities are obvious.

What is your priority?

Every once in a while, I get a waiter who replies with a question like “What types of food do you like?” or, “What are you in the mood for?”
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Is Consulting Worth It?

Consulting Worth It?
Is Consulting Worth It?

My daughter is a junior in high school and in the process of investigating colleges.  In a parallel effort, I’m in the process of investigating how to maximize her ability to get scholarships and minimize our expected family contribution (EFC).

As part of my research, I’m finding that there is an entire industry category of consultants who are happy to share their knowledge and promise thousands of dollars in tuition savings to insure my daughter’s ability to get into her top school, all for a nominal up-front fee.

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Are You Following or Creating Your Own Market? A Parable

Creating Your own Market
Following or Creating Your own Market?

There was once a man we’ll call Pete, who visited the market and witnessed an upward trend of consumers buying potatoes.  He knew several potato farmers.  So he talked to them about being his supplier.

He set up his own potato stand in the market.  Day to day sales were brisk at first.  But soon, he found that he was surrounded by many new potato stands diluting his customer base.

Following your market

While stirring this in his mind, Pete noticed a fish stand near him selling a great deal of fish.  He knew many fishermen also and convinced them to begin supplying him fish.
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A Young Consultant’s Sales Responsibilities

Sales Responsibilities
A Young Consultant’s Sales Responsibilities

I remember early in my consulting career when it was explained to me that, although my primary responsibility as new consultant was to keep my utilization (my percentage of client-billable hours) up to a certain percentage, I was also responsible for sales.

You want me to sell?

I wondered how I could be expected to sell consulting services.  First, I was an IT programmer – a techie.  What did I know about consulting sales?

Secondly, I was expected to keep my utilization at around 90%.  After maintaining that and using what little vacation time I had, when was I supposed to sell consulting services?
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Who sells consulting services?

Who sells consulting services?
Who sells consulting services?

Early in my career, I worked for a large consulting firm that evaluated their employees on five criteria:

  • Knowledge: How much has the employee learned over the evaluation period?
  • Service: How well did the employee serve his/her clients?
  • Communication: Is the employee a good communicator (written, oral, etc.)?
  • Sales: How much did the employee contribute to new business development?
  • Culture: How did the employee represent the firm by joining organizations and serving the public?

I found it interesting that the same criteria were used for every client-serving employee from the newbee consultant all the way up to a managing partner.
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Why Consulting Firms Fail

why consulting firms fail
Why consulting firms fail

Imagine that you have a leak in your bathroom faucet that keeps your significant other awake at night.  As a result, your SO’s insomnia has spread to become your problem as well.  When it comes to plumbing, you invoke the “two-suit rule” – as soon as you own two suits in the closet, you have reached the level of success in which you hire certain tasks out.  You call a plumber who schedules to come to your house at 9:00 the next Friday.
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Critical Consulting Skill: Selling Services

selling services
Critical Consulting Skill: Selling Services

Two of the most critical measures for a consultant are selling services and utilization.  Whether you are an independent consultant working for yourself, or an employee of a large consulting firm, these key indicators are both the bread and the butter.  You have to sell services (projects) to clients in order to get work and you have to deliver that work in order to get paid.  Utilization is usually measured as the ratio of the number of billable hours worked divided by the number of available working hours.
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