When I was a young consultant, a prospect said to me (friendly, it was), “Yeah, yeah, you do strategy, but do you DO anything?” I immediately changed my tag line to “Joey Tamer designs and builds….” so I could promise the result and bury the strategy (but I got paid for it in the detailed agreement). I became results-driven very early on. Later I learned how to establish my value, my client’s trust, the promised results, and the re-assurance of my client.
In many cases with a new prospect, you need to get inside the company or department to understand the extent of your true scope of work. For this you need to conduct a (paid) audit, assessment or needs analysis (pick whichever word fits your industry). In pitching this idea, you need to avoid the skepticism I experienced, and countermand it in the pitch itself.
Now, some industries and prospects think a needs analysis is just the consultant finding more ways to charge for services, or to avoid actually delivering any concrete results. Other companies understand its use perfectly.
To pitch an assessment, however, takes a certain skill to overcome these suspicions. Here are some tactics to include when proposing an assessment:
- Explain that the assessment will reveal the most (cost-) effective approach to solving the challenges you were invited to solve.
- It will define the challenge more clearly, suggest what kinds of employees or contractors would be best to hire on, to create a team to work on the challenges.
- Beyond that, it may indeed restrict your (expensive) role by early off-loading work to experts in the market niches required, so that the client may work with specialists that cost less than you do.
- This approach may cost less money to the client.
- Remember: re-assure the client that you will be there every step of the way, and that you will oversee the project.
- Remember: re-assure the client that you are functioning as a trusted adviser to the quickest and best good of the company.
- Remember: remind the client that you will stay beside him or her as long as requested, but will also plan for your own obsolescence. Promise you will stay on as an adviser (for a reduced but rational fee), as long as you both agree is appropriate.
- Remember: you must both energize your client, and make him or her comfortable and not threatened. This is the success secret many consultants forget (or do not understand).
In all these tactics, you are establishing value, gaining your prospect’s trust, promising results, and offering reassurance. Good luck.