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Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of The Society for the Advancement of Consulting, LLC - Issue #2: November, 2003

Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of the Society for Advancement of Consulting, LLC
  • Most economic signs are quite positive. This is a good time to ratchet up marketing plans for the short term. More and more firms of all sizes will be seeking help to re-establish themselves and regain lost momentum. We just experienced in the US the best quarter in 20 years.
  • If you don't think this is a global economy-and, consequently, one in which consultants should look beyond national borders for business-consider the fact that the fastest growing call center operations for U.S. companies are in the Philippines and other Asian locations.
  • Maximize your retirement plan contributions now, even if you have to take out a loan to do so (and pay the loan back as conditions permit). As you read this, you only have about five months left to contribute to 2003 plans (April is generally the cutoff). A loan will extend your payments into the rest of 2004 if needed.
  • You can arrange for temporary (or even full time) help without a temporary office and without anyone coming to your home. Simply arrange for an assistant with his or her own home office, a phone line that rings in their home, fax, etc. This is especially useful when you're out of town.
  • I received two leads this week: One was from a feasibility buyer who asked if I'd come to New York to meet with his firm's top executives, including those on a conference call from overseas; the other was a human resources staff member who told me she couldn't find pricing on my web site and asked me to send my fees and "general consulting approach" by email. I told the former I'd be there as requested, and the latter that I'd be happy to speak to the firm's decision maker on her project, or else we had nothing to discuss. Not all leads are equal, but your time is always precious. (Note: I've since closed the first deal.)
  • I'm encountering more and more "prominent" consultants-meaning that they serve on boards or write articles-who are in desperate straits financially. Their problem is that they have no brand and have relied too hard and too long on a few outstanding customers. If you're not doing something every week to build a brand or brands, you're simply not marketing well.
  • Look around a prospect's office and determine what he or she is reading. If you can't see anything, then casually ask what they read for professional development. That will tell you where to publish, be interviewed, or even advertise.
  • All buying decisions, whether identified as such or not, are basically ROI decisions. That means that if you don't know what the return (value) is for the prospect, you can't possibly provide an intelligent fee representing a wise investment for the buyer and legitimate remuneration for you.
  • Don't even inadvertently do things which remove you as a peer of the buyer. For example, asking for parking validation (don't laugh, I've seen consultants return because they forgot to ask for it) is penny-ante. Pay the ten bucks. Don't lug a computer case to an executive, one-on-one meeting. And don't allow yourself to be treated as a vendor. If the buyer is more than 15 minutes late, leave a pleasant note, but do leave.

Suggested reading: The Deviant's Advantage: How Fringe Ideas Create Mass Markets, by Ryan Mathews and Watts Wacker (Crown Press). Learn how to create breakthrough thinking for yourself and your clients.

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