by Alan Weiss, published 2019
Estimate costs to reasonably support yourself and your family for 1 full year and set this money aside as initial startup costs for consulting
10 Key Traits of Successful Consultants
- Humor and perspective
- Confidence and self-esteem
- Rapid framing (identifying the problem)
- Value generation (offering ideas and resources without jealousy)
- Active listening
- Needs to be dedicated, private, spacious; need to be able to leave your stuff
- Don’t want to incur large expense; consider professional service firms with unused space for rent (accountants, lawyers, designers, marketing)
- Minimize commute
- Need access at all hours
- Laptop, speed and capability for 3 years minimum
- Postage meter + scale, online Stamps account
Necessary specialist help with professional staff, entrepreneurial bent, accessible, resourceful, same risk-profile:
- Legal; incorporation
- Accounting, finance, tax; deductions of reasonable expenses such as medical fees, director’s fees, director’s meetings, salaries to household members for assistance, business credit, withholding and payroll tax strategy, office + equipment, memberships and subscriptions
- Business banking; a relationship manager to handle questions, expedited banking services, small biz surfaces, SBA-related assistance and opportunities, manage the relationship with the banker and trade business opportunities
- Designer; letterhead, logo, brochure + publicity materials, media kit, web design
- Insurance broker; disability, E&O (malpractice), liability, property, major medical and health, term life insurance, umbrella liability, long-term care, etc.
- Payroll assistance
Marketing, develop market gravity through:
- Press kit
- Client Results/Expected Benefits, what do they get?
- Testimonials, what have people said about you?
- Biographical sketch, who are you? accomplishments, credentials and background
- Position papers/white papers, 2-6 pages outlining ideas or opinions on relevant topics to your consulting work (copyright it)
- Reference list + contacts, try to fill a page
- Stationary, letterhead, secondsheets, envelopes, address labels, business cards
- Networking involves providing value to others to generate reciprocity and becoming interesting to others so they’ll direct others to you; try to do something networking-related at least once per week
- Media people
- Key vendors
- Recommenders to buyers
- Key advisors
- High profile biz people
- Trade association execs
- Community leaders
- Execs planning conferences and meetings
- Pro-bono work should be confined to visible, connected non-profits that engage you with potential paying clients who are also donating their time
- Website, as credibility builder, not sales builder or ad
- clear image about expertise
- reasons to return (changing content, newsletter)
- credibility of self and firm
- personal contact
- expected results
- Commercial and self-publishing
- find publications your target audience reads
- Media interviews, print, web, radio, TV– PRLeads.com
- Speaking engagements, National Trade and Professional Associations of the United States
Key principles of consulting sales
- Clients come from relationships, not sales
- Relationships exist with people, not organizations
- Think from the buyer’s perspective
- Focus on outcomes, not methodology
- Trust comes from convincing people you have their interests at heart
- Provide value to build trust
Gaining conceptual agreement
- What are the objectives to be achieved through this project?
- How would conditions improve as a result of this project?
- Ideally, what would you like to accomplish?
- What would be the difference in the organization if this was successful?
- How would your customers be better served?
- What is the ROI/ROE/ROA impact you seek?
- What is the shareholder impact you seek?
- How will you be evaluated in terms of the results of this project?
- What keeps you up at night?
- What are the top 3 priorities to accomplish?
- How will we measure progress and success?
- How will you know we’ve accomplished the objective?
- Who will be accountable for determining progress and how?
- What info would we need from customers, vendors and employees to measure our progress?
- How will the environment or culture be improved?
- How frequently should we assess progress and how?
- What is acceptable improvement? What is ideal improvement?
- How will you prove to others the objective has been met?
- What is the value or impact to the organization?
- What would be the impact if you did nothing at all?
- What would happen if this project failed?
- What does this mean to you personally?
- What is the difference for the organization’s customers/employees?
- How will this affect performance or productivity?
- How will this affect profitability/market share/competitive advantage?
- What is this currently costing you annually and what might you gain or save?
Focus on developing “small yeses”
- Initial contact, hear background, read some material, agree to second contact
- Second contact, brief meeting
- Brief meeting, form relationship, substantiative meeting
- Second meeting, conceptual agreement
- Proposal, acceptance and initiation
7 Elements of Great Proposals
- Situation appraisal (linkage to previous discussions)
- Conceptual agreement components
- Measures of success
- Expression of value
- Methodologies and options (provide a menu)
- Timing, when does the project begin and end
- Joint accountabilities
- Terms and conditions