Business — Banking — Management — Marketing & Sales

First Meeting



Category: Training

Selling your consulting services

The bottom line in the consulting business is knowing how to sell business. You can be the best consultant in the world, but, if you are unable to sell business, you will not make a living. We totally agree that sales skills differ significantly among people. Further we will discuss about the selling process that will be very helpful for those that are in charge of selling their products/services.

Why the client doesn’t buy from us?

Why the client doesn't buy from us?

The consultant’s Marketing mix: The Nine Ps

The consultants’ marketing mix can be visualized as a bicycle wheel: the successful practice is the axle, and the various parts of the mix are the spokes. For the wheel to turn, each of the spokes must contribute to the functioning of the whole. If the one spoke is week, the wheel will not work effectively to propel the axle forward. The key to successful marketing of a consulting practice is to ensure that all elements of the mix are developed carefully and working at peak effectiveness.

The elements of the consultants’ marketing mix are, briefly described, as follows:

Planning. This consists of setting the direction for your business. For example, you should conduct some research to establish a description of the people who are most likely to use (purchase) your services, the needs and the wants of these potential buyers, and the most effective ways to deliver a convincing message to your target customers. You should determine the financial elements of the business such as revenue and expenses forecasts, cash flow estimates, source of business analyses, and so on. Finally, you should consider such things as the number of people in practice, the functions of various personnel, and likely flow of people (by function) in the organization.

Price

The elements of the consultants' marketing mix

Planning Product

Price. This element relates to the fee structure that you adopt for your practice. It includes not only how much is charged for your services but how you implement the fee structure. For example, will you base your fees on time incurred at a predetermined rate? On an assessment of the value of the customer? On the competitive environment in which you are operating? Or will you base them on some other formula which seems to work best for you?

Place. This element of the mix refers to the location of your business in terms of such things as were it is geographically and how you will deliver your services to your clientele. For example, will you operate all services out of one office or have satellite facilities that are closer to your clients office.

Packaging. This refers to the look of the consulting practice- the graphics of the stationary, business cards, and brochures, the decor of the company offices, and esthetic concerns in general.

Positioning. The positioning of the consulting practice establishes how you want your business to be viewed by the client/prospect population. In essence, the positioning is the personality and character of business.

People. The people element of the mix refers to the types of clientele that the consulting practice is seeking to attract and the quality of personnel in the practice.

Product. The product of the consulting practice consists of the services that your organization will offer your clients. This relates to the benefit that the client will receive as a result of hiring your consulting organization.

Promotion. This element incorporates the four key traditional marketing functions:

Advertising. (newspaper, magazine, radio or television) of the consulting product or advertising specialties that incorporates the company name (pens), and other similar types of communications.

Promotion. Promotion includes any paid program that goes directly to the target consumer to stimulate interest in the consulting practice. As an example would be direct-mail program.

Public relations.

Sales. This function is the process of selling your consulting services, including preparation for the selling call, execution of the sales presentation, development of the proposal, and the follow-up that is required after the call.

Professionalism. The professionalism of a consulting practice refers to such things as how the people in the practice relate clients and suppliers, the activities in which your organization might wish to become involved within both the professional and the local community in which you operate, and the ethical standards by which your organization operates on a day-to-day basis

Initial contacts

The consultant makes the contact (cold calling)

The client makes the contact

Typically, the consultants approaches the clients’ via:

• Public seminars;

o In consultants’ company;

Presentations in his company;

Exhibitions and presentations related to the field;

Participation in networks & associations;

Trainings abroad & conferences (international assignments);

Existing clients;

Ex-clients (satisfied);

Publication and selling of the books;

Golden pages;

Friends and colleagues (socializing).

There are five steps in selling process

There are five steps in selling process (see the figure above).

Screening of prospects inquires.

The trick is to identify true potential clients. Therefore, when you receive a call, you objective is to determine quickly whether the caller is a legitimate prospect, and, if so, to gather some basic information that will enable you to prepare for the upcoming meeting with individual to discus your potential involvement.

Step 1. Determine the prospect’s validity as a prospective client.

It is very important to find out as soon as possible out where the caller got your name. This is often the most revealing trip-off as to the viability of the inquiry, as some referral sources are much more productive then others. For example the Yellow Pages are probably the lowest level of referral that you can handle. If a caller got your name from the Yellow Pages, it is unlikely that he or she will know much about your capabilities and probably will be very unsophisticated regarding the use of consultants.

If a caller indicates that he or she got your name from a trade association directory, he or she may be viable prospect, but these source suggests that a caller probably is shopping around for consultants. Also, they normally indicate that a caller is not particularly versed in the use of consultants, which would require you to do a good deal of educating before you are successful in signing a contract.

If the individual called as a result of reading an article (or book) you have written or hearing a speech you have given, this can often be a very strong lead. The prospect is coming into the conversation with the feeling that you offer something that will fell a specific need.

If the referral comes from a former (or current) client, it normally is the best of all situation. This type of inquiry deserves immediate and concentrated action. The caller knows very good information about you.

Finally you should determine whether the caller has prior experience using a consultant. In our experience, the best prospects are those that have used consultants in the past. They understand

what is involved in using a consultant and how a consultant can contribute most effectively to the organization. They also aware of the costs associated with using a consultant. Cost is a big concern for the first time users; with repeat users, cost is usually much less of an issue.

Prospect contact. The first part of the selling process consists of your initial contact with the prospect (potential buyer). The way this contact is initiated and the events during the first three to five minutes of the relationship influence very significantly the likelihood of your obtaining the consulting assignment.

In our experience, the probability of entering into a consulting relationship with a prospect is dramatically greater when the potential client initiates the first contact. We would estimate that the chances of signing a consulting contract might be ten to twenty times greater then if this is the exact case.

First of all, when the prospect organization contacts you, it has an idea that it might wish to hire a consultant. Often, it is only an idea, and the phone call or letter is just a fishing trip to compare the costs capabilities of different organizations.

Moreover, when the prospect organization contacts you, it normally has some information about your company, and you begin the conversation with some credibility.

Once contact has been made, the first few minutes of the interaction may determine whether the contract translates into consulting contract.

First, show enthusiasm about having received the call.

Secondly, unless the it is absolutely impossible, take the call immediately and handle what needs to be accomplished during the initial contact. By talking to them immediately, you communicate to them that they are very important to you, even if you do not know their needs are at the present time.

Third, prepare a very concise way of describing the nature of your consulting business and the scope of your operations. Normally, this will the first thing that the prospect wants to know.

Fourth, remain constantly aware that the impressions you make during the first few minutes of a conversation can be vital. Be sure to use a friendly voice on the telephone and communicate an attitude that indicates that you are concern about the needs of the caller, even if your organization will not be able to help. You never know who prospects know or who might ask them about your company in the future, so try to build goodwill for your consulting organization with all callers, regardless of their potential as clients.

Finally, try your hardest to help callers complete their mission (i.e., find a consultant), even if you are not the right person for them.

Step 2. Gather sufficient information about the prospective assignment and the client organization for you to conduct an effective introductory meeting.

Once you have determined that the caller represents a viable prospect that should be pursued further, your objective should be to collect the information that will help you in the subsequent steps of the sales process. This should include:

• Some very brief background about the company and the situation that led to the consideration of outside consulting services. This will be helpful for you during the preplanning phase of the third part of the sales process, the initial meeting. Specially, you should ask about the

nature of the business, the product or service involved, and any past attempts to solve the problem for which you help has bee sought.

The expectation of a caller relative to this meeting. Specifically, what would the prospect like to accomplish when you follow-up with a visit. This presentation will influence greatly how you plan the presentation.

How long the meeting — including both the formal presentation and the follow-up questions-should last

Where and when the meeting will be held. The time and place of a meeting is very important to the overall effectiveness of a presentation. Generally, you should avoid meetings very late in the afternoon (particularly on Friday) or right after lunch. Also, some consultants are better off holding meetings in their offices, as they can bring in several other people and perhaps show off an attractive facility, whereas other consultants are best served by going to the client’s premises.

Once all this information is collected, you are ready for the third step in the selling process. Step 3: Initial meeting.

The third major part of the selling process, which normally will be your first face-to-face contact with the prospect organization. Your primary objective during the initial meeting is to sell yourself and your company to that prospected organization so that it will want to hire you as a consultant

You should encourage the client to talk about:

Company;

Difficulties;

Hopes and expectations

In listening and putting questions, the consultant assesses the client’s needs in terms of management and business practice, future development prospects, personal concerns, perception of consulting, and readiness to work with consultants assuming different types of role. The consultant decides how best to describe the nature and method of consulting as it applies to the client’s context, being careful not to repeat information that is probably known to the client. Usually the consultant should take the initiative during the discussion, selling his services being the primary aim of the meeting.

The exit

Final word

Appoint for the second meeting

Material distribution

Departure

• Prepare your self for the second meeting Your Presentation should include:

1. Credential presentation. During the first part of the presentation, you should built credibility for your organization by providing the prospect with a significant amount of information about the you and your company

• Company background. Give some background on your company. Outline when it was founded, what is current structures is, and where the office(s) are located.

Category and client history. Next you should cover the product/service categories in which your company has experience, to establish your companies track record and display the experience.

Personnel. Provide also a brief description about the peoples within your organization -their educational background, prior work histories (i.e. companies, positions and dated), other relevant accomplishments (i.e. key publications) and current position in your organization.

Scope of the practice. Next, you should give to the prospect organization an overview of the functional areas in which your consulting organization practices. Cover major area of your involvement, even if all of the are not related to the needs of the prospect company. By describing all the things your company does, you may evoke some interest in using your practice in other projects.

Relevance. Mention other work you have done in the prospect organization’s industry and in very related industries. You should also describe work you have done in functional areas that relate closely to the work that would be involved in the potential assignments. Use comparison. The consultant will find these by making comparison with:

Past achievements

Other comparable organizations (to asses what has been achieved elsewhere and whether the same thing would be possible in the client’s organization)

Sectoral standards (benchmarking data) available in consulting firm or from other source

4. Case history, some consulting companies find that one of the most effective ways to presenttheir credentials is to provide brief case histories of past consulting assignments. Typically, theyare set up in the following format:

Statement of the problem

Outline of the solution that was proposed

Summary of the results

Typically projected implementation procedure. Now, you should provide a brief description of the normal process that your consulting organization follows to implement an assignment.

Staffing and costing. For example, which of the representatives attending the meeting from your organization would be directly involved in the consulting assignment, and what would be each person’s role in the project? If other are likely to be involved, how would they fit into the project team? Explain briefly how you arrive at your consulting fees and what other costs are incremental to that fee. (i.e. travel, long distance telephone, etc,.)

Proposal development. A proposal submitted to the client is an important selling document. It is not enough for the consultant to have a clear vision of how to execute the assignment: he or she must be able to describe this vision on paper in a way that make it clear to another people. This may include individuals who have not met the consultant, and will be forming their opinions solely on the basis of the written proposal.

Survey report;

Technical proposal;

Project plan;

Contract proposal

Sections of the proposals

The technical aspect section. describes the consultant’s preliminary assessment of problem, the purpose to be pursued, the approach to be taken, and the work programme to be followed. The staffing section. Give the name an profile of consultant company’s staff who will be executing the assignment. This includes the senior consultants (partners, project manager) who will be responsible for guiding and supervising the team working at the client’s organization. The consultant background section. Describes the experience and the competence of the consulting organization as it relates to the needs of the particular client. Financial and other terms section indicates the cost of the services, provisions for cost increase and contingencies, and the schedule and other indications for paying fees and reimbursing expenses.

Presenting the proposal

Send the proposal beforehand via email — the client will have time to analyze the document and be prepared for the meeting. A good presentation is when everybody agrees beforehand about everything and the meeting is just a formal event.

Hand the proposal to the client before presentation — the last version of the proposal just for clarification of some details in case they will appear during the meeting. Also it forms the official part of the proposal.

Write winning proposals. Many consultants lose assignments because they do not put enough time, creative thought and preparation into winning proposals.

A winning proposal culminates all your marketing efforts to date. Successful consultants are superb proposal writers. They put their effort only into creating winning proposals, not into those that lose.

A winning proposal is a coherent, carefully structured selling document which convincingly persuades your prospective client that: you know what he wants done, you can do it, and your price falls within the budget.

Techniques for negotiating and selling in the contract

Articulate your needs -personal and professional-to the client. Don’t be shy

Have a dialogue with the client to resolve any differences in articulated project needs. Insist on an equal playing field

Sharpen your questioning skills before meeting with client.

Be prepared to initiate discussions about larger business picture

Be specific about the deliverable of the project and write them into TOR

Be assertive about your own ability to work

Show genuine appreciation to the client for the demonstrated faith for you.

Be on the same level with your pottential client (behave, manner, talk, language)

The consulting contract. Verbal agreement is one given by the client orally and should be avoid.

Letter of agreement (or letter of engagement, of confirmation, of intent). Having receiving the consultant’s proposal (proposal letter), the client sends him or her a letter of agreement, that may

confirm that he or she accepts the proposal and the suggested terms or the consultant send the client a proposal for a letter of agreement.

Written contract it is often the best form the consultant should present a draft proposal of a contract to the client. The consultant should take the initiative, but be flexible!

What to cover in a contract — check list

Contracting parties (consultant & client);

Scope of the assignment (objectives, results, description of work, starting date, timetable, volume of work);

Work outputs (expected results),, including reports;

Consultant and the client inputs;

Fees and expenses;

Billing and payment procedure;

Handling of the confidential information;

Protection of the intellectual property and copyright in consultants work product;

Liability (the consultants liability for damages caused to the client, limitation of liability);

Use of subcontractors by the consultant;

Signature and dates


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