The Need For Tangible Consulting Services
You may feel that previous experience and general management qualifications, even an MBA, may mean that you are suitably qualified to undertake management consulting successfully. In reality, the majority of independent consultants struggle to maintain a profitable practice and success is limited to the few consultants who have a clear and focused strategy for developing a tangible consulting service.
Indeed, we cannot expect to be employed as a consultant, merely because we are qualified and have experience, a client will need to understand exactly what they are buying from us, how things will be implemented and the likely positive and negative effects that the service is going to have upon the organization.
The most frustrating problems for a consultant are achieving good quality opportunities in the first place and then successfully demonstrating to a client why they need their service. We need to be able to demonstrate exactly what the service actually consists of and what the likely benefits will be. Indeed in many cases, clients will probably need to consider employing a consultant based upon trust and empathy alone and while these attributes may be important they are never enough of a foundation to base a sensible financial decision. A client needs to understand what your service is, how you would implement it, the internal resources their company will need, the likely positive and negative effects of the service, how long it will take to implement, how much it will cost, how they measure value. They need to understand precisely what you are going to do.
If the client only receives a general proposal outlining objectives and service benefits, with little explanation of how the service will be implemented, then they will fear the consequences as we all fear things that we do not understand. The risk to them is far greater than most consultants realize. The result is that only 5 per cent of client opportunities with Global consulting firms are actually converted into consulting assignments. With a tangible consulting service and a clearly targeted market you can expect to convert all of your client opportunities.
Consider the following:
If your consulting service is well designed, properly presented and has firm substance to it, then all that you should need to do is post it out to prospective clients for them to buy. If you need to spend a great deal of time worrying about your marketing process, then this usually means that there is something wrong with your service, or it is too general, meaning that there is too much competition for it. This is not just apparent with consulting services. The same principle applies with any product.
Consider designing a product, which features your service. For example, it could be a software that you ultimately develop, a training program, a corporate structure, a book or business guide, a production or operations manual, or even a series of presentations or workshops. With these examples, it would always be much clearer for a client to understand exactly what they would be buying from you and how the service would work.
Many consultants merely want to charge for their time, in the same way that an employee would, based upon the qualifications or experience which they have achieved. The problem with selling knowledge or opinions is that short-term value will always be difficult to achieve, and long-term value will be almost impossible.
If clients are going to continue to employ a consulting service over a sustained period of time, they will need to consistently believe in the following:
1.That the consulting service is enabling their organization, or department, to operate more proactively. 2.That they are continuously learning from your consulting service. 3.That each part of the service is part of something larger, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. They need to feel that they are gradually developing a clear picture that everyone within their organization is able to see and understand.
Ultimately, credibility is the difference between a successful consultant and an unsuccessful one. It takes many years to establish and it can be lost in a heart beat. Credibility is not achieved by a good brand, endorsements, references, or reputation. It is achieved through the substance within the consulting service. Consultants with the Academy of Business Strategy achieve business only through service development and client recommendation. Credibility is achieved through service implementation, by developing good working relationships with clients spanning many years. In many cases, clients and consultants become lifelong friends, learning, experiencing and achieving things together as a team.
Credibility is something that can stand the test of time. The benefits of Academy consulting services should be felt long after the consultant has gone, because the operating procedures should still be active and ever present. The benefits of structural services are always more likely to survive the effects of changing personnel, mergers and acquisitions and product re-invention. Training with the Academy of Business Strategy can be a good way of establishing a professional portfolio of post-graduate professional qualifications.
This ensures that your academic business record matches any practical business experience that you have achieved. It is becoming increasingly expected that management consultants should now possess consulting qualifications as well as traditional qualifications and practical experience. If a client employs the services of a Certified Professional Consultant, the client knows that a professional service will have been developed where clearly defined benefits, value and sustainable implementation methods will be clearly set out and adhered to.
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