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Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of The Society for Advancement of Consulting, LLC - Issue #5: February, 2004

Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of the Society for Advancement of Consulting, LLC
  • A good reason never to present proposals in person: The buyer says, "Thanks, give me some time to digest this and look it over." Send it in advance, so that you pre-empt that excuse. (If you have conceptual agreement prior to the proposal, there shouldn't be a need to meet again in most cases.)
     
  • People ask all the time, "How much time should I invest in marketing?" My answer: "More than you are." Even if you're "rich" with referral business, it won't last forever. If you're not spending at least a third of your business time on marketing, then you may be short-changing yourself.
     
  • If you want to improve or fortify your value proposition, the Internet is the perfect support mechanism. You can search for and find-in moments-statistics and examples to support you, from coaching ROI to rates of absenteeism caused by stress.
     
  • A client told me the other day that he hadn't had a response from me to his email in two days, so he knew I didn't get it and resent it. That's the result of a service ethic and brand which people understand. I get the benefit of the doubt because I'm so responsive, rather than the irritated, "Why didn't you get back to me?" What are your service standards, and do clients appreciate them?
     
  • While I was speaking in Chicago, the local group arranged for a reporter and photographer from the Chicago Tribune to be present, which resulted in a page 1 business story, including picture. (You can read the story if you're interested on http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-0401260228jan26,1,7281077.story You have to register with the Trib, but it's free. Local groups see this as a win/win proposition, and it's great publicity for press kit and web site.
     
  • If you're using an Apple computer, Safari is one of the most powerful, reliable web browsers I've ever encountered. I don't know if it's available for PCs.
     
  • Those of you who have joined SAC as full professional members have met fairly strong success criteria. Therefore, I advise you to consider abandoning cheap tickets, non-refundable deals, and staying over on Saturday nights. Educate your client not to expect it, and allow yourself the luxury of changing reservations to leave earlier when a completed client engagement allows for a better flight home.
     
  • A neat trick, don't laugh: I love sushi and know all the Japanese names of the fish. When I dine with clients who also like it, I order without looking at the menu in "perfect Japanese." The clients usually ask me to order for them. (It's the same principle as knowing which wines to order.)
     
  • Keep your eye and your mind on the next "close" not the next sale. That may be a meeting, an exchange, a phone call, a proposal, an interview. The sale will come. Too many consultants try to conclude a sale immediately, rather than establish the relationship which will allow them to do so gracefully.
     
  • When the Houston Astrodome first opened to protect patrons from the weather, it was found that the huge enclosed space actually was producing its own weather. Remember that any consulting intervention has consequences of its own which must be factored into the implementation and risk plans. (See the book below for more on such occurrences.)

Suggested Reading: Why Things Bite Back, Edward Tenner (Knopf). This is an older but fun book detailing the unintended consequences of any new technology or approach.

 
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