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Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of The Society for the Advancement of Consulting, LLC - Issue #31: April, 2006

Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of the Society for Advancement of Consulting, LLC


  • If you're cold calling or have an initial meeting with a new prospect, use the Internet to find out something of interest about the client and/or the buyer. Just one insight ("I've learned that you've pulled out of the Latin American market") can create rapport and provide a great deal of information in the meeting or on the phone.
  • I've never heard anyone using a speaker phone who sounded normal. It's disrespectful to use one without asking permission. If you use it automatically to answer your phone, switch to the handset once you've established that you want to continue the call.
  • When you travel with checked baggage, make sure you have a change of clothes and toiletries in a carry-on bag. More luggage is being lost and pilfered than ever before.
  • Check your voice mail greeting. "If you're hearing this message I'm either on the other line or away from my desk" is the silliest thing you can tell me. "Sorry I missed your call, please leave a message and I'll get back to you promptly" sort of takes care of everything. There's no need to tell the caller "It's Tuesday the 20th…" because the chances are that I already know that…
  • You don't need a reason to tell someone you're not interested. "Sorry, we don't accept phone solicitations…." is perfectly fine. "No, there won't be written reports," is an accurate response. The more you explain, the more you seem ingenuous or uncertain.
  • There are great cell phones and plans (I use a Motorola from Verizon, but there are other, equally good ones) that enable you to easily use the phone from virtually any country with no hassle whatsoever, and the rates are very reasonable. You can also receive calls and get voice mail.
  • If you want to ensure attentive service, compliment the flight attendant the first chance you get. They rarely hear good things, especially early in a flight. Similarly, your chances of an upgraded room are greatly enhanced by being charming to the desk clerk. (In Las Vegas, charm and a $50 bill will almost ensure better digs.)
  • There is only a small difference between Paul Revere and Chicken Little. You have to be bold, but you also have to be right the first time if you intend to stand out in a crowd.
  • From a practice management standpoint, if you were to ensure you did one thing well this year, it ought to be to maximize contributions toward your retirement plans (and make up for any missed contributions in the past that can still be legally made). I think that consultants are among the most dilatory of all professionals in establishing intelligent retirement planning.
  • If you've been in this business for more than ten years, and you hold no trademarks, service marks, patents, or registrations of intellectual property, you're either not very creative or remiss in protecting your own work. Remember, unless you can prove your brought it with you, work you produce for a client is legally work product and owned by the client. (SAC can recommend you to attorneys who specialize in these matters if you don't already have one.)
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