Hello, and welcome to another episode of the How to Build and Grow a selling consulting services Firm or Practice audio series. I’d like to talk about new clients and how to selling consulting services in today’s episode.
I’d want to point out that this entire series is based on our own experiences as well as our work with various boutique consulting firms and major firm offices. We’re creating an Insider version of this programme for FC Insiders, our loyalty members, that’s a little more difficult and unique.
While we will cover the same ideas in the Insider edition of the programme, we will go over a case study of a reasonably large firm with revenue of around two million dollars and how we helped the firm considerably grow revenue, change their selling consulting services mix, and so on. We’ll demonstrate how to use each of the tools and techniques, as well as how we guided the client through the process.
You may also view the YouTube version with graphics on our YouTube channel (also inserted below).
1. How to Sell Consulting Services
So, let’s just talk about clients for a moment. Sales are important, as we all know. Even if you have the finest intentions and the best plans, you won’t be able to accomplish much without revenue, often known as sales. You might desire to change a difference in the world, or do things that are important to your country’s well-being. However, without you have revenue pouring in, all of this is merely a pipe dream that will never be realised.
So, one of the top first things I always advise clients who run a firm, whether it’s just one person, a group of people, or even an office of a larger firm, is that you need to find clients and do so quickly. You should also avoid what I call to as the layman’s view of how McKinsey, BCG, and other consulting sales approach sales since their approaches are significantly different. But I’m not here to tell you how they complete deals because a lot of what McKinsey and BCG do isn’t possible for a boutique consulting firm to do.
I’m going to walk you through some of the things we’ve done with the Insider programme client and other clients who are suited for smaller companies or selling consulting services firms that aren’t as huge as the larger firms.
Finding clients is not difficult if you stick to the essentials, but you must stay to the concept of not acting like a major firm.
I’ll share a personal anecdote with you now. When I was a Partner, I was dispatched to Latin America to assist in the stabilisation of one of the offices. I was working with a few of my coworkers. As a resource partner, I have skills that this office’s potential clients would value. I recall coming there after a 17-hour flight. After misplacing my belongings, I went to work the next day in the same clothes I wore on the plane, not feeling well. I met everyone, and the Partners walked me through an analysis they’d been working on for a while, led by various engagement managers and associates, on which clients and sectors they should focus on to rebuild the practise.
My response to them was that we already have a strategy in place, which we call the Amex card. That is to say, I was not concerned in which sectors selling consulting services or industries we should target, which clients we should target, or whose clients we should enter. Instead, we should concentrate on familiar clients and invite them out for drinks and supper.
Most consulting firms make the error of focusing too much on clients they believe they should be serving while disregarding potential clients they have access to. There is never a market analysis in the situation. I’ve never seen a market analysis with Partners before. We work on the relationships we already have and build from there.
So, if you’re thinking, “Who should I target, what sectors, what industries should I pursue?” you’re asking the wrong question. “Who are the clients I know, & who are the clients I can meet with?” is the correct question.
Even if they’re in a sector you don’t want to serve, those are the clients you’re after. In reality, there isn’t a sector that you don’t want to work in. Every sector has an impact. Every sector in the world will have a portion of clients who will be appealing to you, because if you’re concerned about clients, the first step is to access out clients who can be reached. Look for clients youknow familiar with and arrange to meet with them.
Another story concerns a time when I was serving my first significant client. If you follow track of “Rebuilding a selling consulting services Practice” and “Partnership,” you’ll be fine. I talk about this client a lot in “A Memoir.” I was made by the client, and I was in charge of the most important engagement at that client.
They had a very modest office and a small head office since they believed in a low overhead structure. The resource’s client’s headquarters were in an opulent high-rise complex with upscale Italian and French restaurants on the ground office. I’d go to a meeting with the chief financial officer, the chief operating officer, or the CEO, depending on the situation. I was still a newbie and simply worked as an Engagement Manager at the time.
As a result, I did not have the same level of access that I did later in my career. However, I would meet these clients for a 30-minute to one-hour meeting and then go to the Asian restaurant on the ground level so that when the client’s people left, they would have to pass through the restaurant and see us. I’d be having a four-hour lunch with another Engagement Manager who was running studies for me, and we’d be having drinks.
People from the office would notice me, but it didn’t matter because if an employee of the resource’s client that I wanted to meet left, I’d invite them along by saying, “Hey, you know it’s a Friday evening. Why don’t you come out for a drink with us?” That’s essentially how I approached sales. There was some thinking, but no PowerPoint presentation with a thorough analysis of the issues. That’s because, as someone who worked with that client, I was familiar with the issues.
It wasn’t as if I was selling consulting services a client about whom I knew nothing and had to conduct extensive investigation to know the issues. For a few months, I was working with them on an operational strategy. Among other things, I was exposed to their financial strategy issues. So, if I noticed an employee I wanted to meet, I would just pull them aside or say, “Would you want to join us for a drink?” “It’s Friday night.” “Well, I have to go home, I promised my kids,” some could argue. “Just one drink,” I’d say. We’d have one drink, which would quickly grow into ten drinks. I couldn’t walk by the end of it, so I’d have to sit for another three hours, drink coffee, and get to the point where I could safely return home.
So, what’s the best way to sell consulting services? The most importants thing is to meet clients who can serve you.
2. How to sell consulting services
We also used another strategy of promising to demonstrate our skills for four days for free.
If you follow “Rebuilding a consulting practise,” you’ll see that I relocated to a struggling developing markets office. I had the chance to visit London. I also had the chance to visit Boston. But I turned them all down and took an office at a dreadful company.
And I recall the Associate Principal, who was responsible for grooming me to become a Partner, calling people he knew in the executive offices of resources clients. We have a list of clients who we wanted to serve with. They were not yet our clients, but rather the firm’s clients. However, we did not provide selling consulting services to that client’s particular branch.
As a result, we used to call them, as well as the main office, because there were so many resource businesses in the area. “We know it’s Christmas time,” we’d say. Why do not we send one of our top issues to work with you and help you sort people out? And then wait and watch what occurs.”
He would never admit that it was free. We were attempting to work with clients and see what may happen, so he would call it a secondment or anything he wanted. And I’d be deployed, and as I progressed in my career and became a Partner, I’d do the same with my best people.
The point is that clients will have access to you for five days. You’re working for nothing. What, on the other hand, is the alternative? Sit in an office and send them proposals or emails? No. Finally, I’ve never been in a situation selling consulting services when it didn’t lead in some end of work. Perhaps the work arrived right away. It could take upto 3 months for it to arrive. It led in a major improvement in the partnership on occasion. However, it always led in us having to work.
We’d do one of two things throughout those four or five weeks. We’d draw a diagram of an issue that required analysis, or we’d identify an issue and say, “You know what, we think we know what we need to do to repair this.” But how about we perform a two-week trial with just two people?” It was obviously compensated. This would then lead to chargeable work, which would subsequently lead to implementation.
3. How to sell consulting services
So, anytime I talk to firms about how they’re going to conduct studies and analyses, it’s for clients they don’t know about. Now, for clients you don’t know, doing a survey of supply chain issues in their sector is the simplest thing in the world. Make an investigation. Intellectual property is something that firms invest in. Conduct a thorough investigation of this sector.
Make an analysis, a summary, or come up with a fresh strategy. Perform some benchmarking and then utilise the opportunity to meet with an executive to discuss your findings in the industry. That is how you meet clients you have never met before.
All of this may be accomplished for a little cost and in a short amount of time. Here’s when it gets interesting. We’ll talk about that one client we work with in the FC Insider edition of the programme, which is reflective of other clients as well. However, the interesting thing for them is that after we were done with them, selling consulting services this area of work provided over 50% of their revenue because we wanted them to diversify away from billable hour revenue. It was difficult because many of them had previously worked for McKinsey and other firms. They held the belief that consulting is unadulterated. It has to be billable hours only.
So focus on clients youknow familiar with. That is the most important thing.
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Self-Assessment: Make a comparison between your current performance and where you should be.
What changes do you need to make in order to refocus your priorities?
As you progress through this programme, remember in mind that it’s all about pursuing the clients you have access to. Even if it’s been an long time since you’ve served them. ‘Serve larger clients,’ I often tell firms, because even if you conclude one engagement with them, there’s always the chance that something new will come up. If you serve a smaller client, you may expect them to conduct less selling consulting services work, which means there will be less for you to move on to.
So, how do you go about approaching your present clients? How many meetings have you scheduled so far? How are you going to reduce resistance? What will you do to persuade them to talk to you?
The other category, which is for later, but which you should start pursuing now, is how do you obtain access to clients you don’t have access to but want to know about.
Summary of how to sell consulting services
The preceding tips on how to sell consulting services apply not just to new, young, tiny selling consulting services offices, but also to huge offices. When I was at the firm, I had to go for major multibillion-dollar clients, and I employed these techniques. When we had to turn around offices with 70 people, we had to turn around offices with 120 people. Let’s put some of what we’ve already seen and learned about selling consulting services together.
Get out there and do it. Meet with potential clients
The first is that you should not waste your days and weeks devising a strategy for “how you will serve a client,” “how you will grow the firm,” and “how to sell consulting services” because you simply do not know enough about the market and cannot afford to burns so many hours on something that is truly an expense.
Get out there and do it. Meet with potential clients. As you converse with them, you will learn about their problems. Having two associates in an office reading annual reports to find about the company’s issues is a hit-or-miss proposition. If you sit with a client for an hour, you will find more than anyone in the office could possibly teach you in preparation for that meeting.
Don’t spend your time with lengthy sales presentations.
Don’t get hung up on complicated sales presentations. At large corporations, this is something that is frequently overlooked. We don’t have to put together complicated presentations very often. We frequently get to put up fairly simple presentations and obtain the work because of our reputation. However, because you are a younger firm with a smaller office and consulting firm, you should portray yourself as someone who can deliver bankable results.
Do not bring up the subject of implementation.
Do not bring up the subject of implementation. It’s a bit of a cliche. The term “implementation” does not imply “bankable results.” You can put something in place and not achieve the results you promised selling consulting services. “If you employ us, you will get this,” promises the bankable result. However, just because you talk about implementation doesn’t ensure you’ll obtain bankable results. Many implementations fail.
Contact the clients you know familiar with.
Focus on the clients youknow familiar with. Even if they refuse to do free work, visit them four or five times in a row and speak with them. Assist them in identifying issues.
I’ve been in instances when the CEO of a major client expressed interest in collaborating with us. She didn’t much care for the firm, but she liked me. She’d call me, and I’d show up every day. I stayed with her for almost a week. Obviously, I didn’t charge her anything. I’d sit a seat in her office. She sat in a comfortable chair. And I’d do work for her, assisting her in problem-solving. When she had meetings, she would go to the meeting and when she returned, we would talk things.
As a result, the firm was given a very important mandate to work for a highly prestigious client that we really wanted to work with. Working for nothing is the same as working for free. However, you can be inventive in your approach.
Free work is thinking meetings for five days in a row to think through issues and provide updates. But we don’t talk it. We don’t call to it as “free work.”
It would be simple for you to meet new clients if you have a good reputation. If you don’t have a good reputation, do some free work, such as evaluating the sector and presenting the results.
Create long-term revenue streams
Finally, the idea is to follow long-term revenue streams rather than rely on traditional selling consulting services models. I may go into more detail about this, but we absolutely talk about revenue streams in the insider version. Because going through periods where you don’t have any revenue coming in for billable work is exhausting and disheartening.
“How am I spending my day?” you might wonder.
Because you should be in front of clients, you should ask yourself how you are spending your day.
Post a message on iTunes or YouTube if you have any questions or comments about how to sell consulting services. We look forward to the sharing the next episode/article with you, as always.
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