Consulting’s Three Headed Monster

Three Headed Monster
Consulting’s Three Headed Monster

A good consulting firm needs to be successful from three aspects: Delivery, Sales and Recruiting.  This is often considered the three-headed monster of consulting

The three headed monster

Delivery

Delivery, the act of providing services to clients, is the firm’s primary product.  It relies on a defined methodology and qualified people to deliver those services.

Sales

Sales are necessary to bring in paying clients that put the food on the table for everyone involved.  Most firms rely on the delivery folks to provide leads, develop relationships and develop proposals in order to sell projects to clients. But they also have a sales department with account reps to develop new leads and ultimately sell their services.

You can develop all the methodologies and sell all the projects you want, but without someone to recruit qualified people to deliver those services, no client billing takes place and no food gets put on that proverbial table.

If a firm is only good in two of those aspects, they will most likely fail.  Firms that are good in all three of those aspects can fail if they don’t figure out a way to make them work in concert with each other.

If you speak to someone from each area, they will most likely tell you that theirs is the toughest job.

Sales professionals will tell you that their job is tough because if they don’t bring in business, they don’t get paid.  Most make a modest base salary, but primarily rely on their commissions.  They also know that if they don’t perform, the consultants on staff will begin losing their jobs when the projects dry up.  There are cold calls and relentless rejections before getting to a yes answer.  It requires a special skill to get in the door to sell something intangible like professional services.

Recruiting

A good recruiter seeks to understand the needs of the project in order to staff it with qualified people.  Most projects are staffed with a core of existing employees that have been with the firm long enough to understand the firm’s service offerings, methodology and culture.  But new employees are often needed to fully staff a project.  The recruiter needs to know the skills required for each resource, the experience level needed, the approximate time frame each will be required and the expected salary or hourly rate they are willing to pay.  If candidates with those specific criteria are not available, the recruiter needs to determine which of the criteria can be sacrificed.

Blending it all together

The delivery folks are the front line team that has to face the customer.  The sales team may promise the world to make the sale, but the delivery people have to figure out a way to get it done on time and within budget.  They need to communicate their staffing needs to the recruiting team, interview and approve each new staff member.  If recruiting provides four candidates for a position and none of them meet the needs, it’s back to the drawing board and they have to reiterate their needs to recruiting.  This can delay the start of the project.

These teams can’t run as separate silos.  A well run firm, where all three groups work together requires strong management that unites them as an integrated team to insure optimal employee and customer satisfaction.

See my related post: Who sells consulting services?

Management that is partial to one group at the expense of another eventually erodes the morale of  all three groups.  The critical skill for any manager in a consulting environment is to keep each component of the three-headed monster playing nice with each other.

Does your firm blend the components of the three headed monster effectively?

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms. 

Related Posts
Removal from a Client Project
It happens every once in a while.  A consultant is working with their project team and sometime during the project, the account manager speaks with the consultant and informs them ...
READ MORE
Are You A Rule Follower?
I’ve been working since the age of 12 when I became a busboy at an Italian restaurant in my hometown.  I still remember my dad dropping me off on my ...
READ MORE
A High Status Workspace is Not Usually Given to a Consultant
We see evidence of status all over the work place.  The boss in the corner office; larger, more comfortable chairs for management; and cubicles by the window for people with ...
READ MORE
How To Overcome Your Fear
Many people have an irrational fear lurking deep within them that limits their ability succeed.  Whether it’s fear of public speaking, confrontation or the ability to ask for the sale, ...
READ MORE
The Thick Skin of a Consultant
Suppose you hire a local landscaping firm to care for your lawn.  During a backyard party, if a guest comments that your bushes are overgrown and the grass is cut ...
READ MORE
Consulting Skill: Adaptability
Kodak was once a dominant player in the photography industry leading all players in the film and camera market by a seemingly insurmountable lead.  As digital photography – which they ...
READ MORE
Are You Really Too Busy?
I didn’t get a chance to get to that. I’m so busy, it’s on my list, I’m just buried in work. I didn’t see that email in my overflowing inbox.  When did ...
READ MORE
How to Differentiate with Your Personal Brand
There is a lot of talk today about personal branding.  The tools available are plentiful.  Social media tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and the up-and-coming Quora allow you to ...
READ MORE
Critical Consulting Skill: Flexibility
As I’ve pointed out in this blog before, one of the things I’ve always liked about consulting is the variety.  You generally work on a project for a few months ...
READ MORE
The Best Route to Success – Incremental Gains
I remember an old cartoon of a reporter asking a famous star, "How do you account for your overnight success?" To which the star responded, "Twenty years of hard work." In ...
READ MORE
Removal from a Client Project
Are You A Rule Follower?
A High Status Workspace is Not Usually Given
How To Overcome Your Fear
The Thick Skin of a Consultant
Consulting Skill: Adaptability
Are You Really Too Busy?
How to Differentiate with Your Personal Brand
Critical Consulting Skill: Flexibility
The Best Route to Success – Incremental Gains