Just like an oil change or spring cleaning, it’s good practice to regularly step back and consider how your consulting business is positioned.
Ask yourself: why might you get a phone call or consulting opportunity in the first place?
The list below is a refresher on the most common reasons people hire consultants along with some questions you will need to answer to make sure you’re positioned to take advantage of these opportunities. Are you ready to close the deal?
Reason #1: To solve a problem
Consultants are hired in order to solve specific problems. Clients love to ask “what is everybody else doing to solve this problem?” If a client has a problem, you can establish credibility if you’ve solved similar problems before.
Key Takeaway: Have you documented previous engagements in the form of case studies or testimonials to share with potential clients?
Reason #2: To supplement core staff
Sometimes a company needs someone with a specialized skill set to come in and get a very specific job done. They just don’t have the skill set in-house. Enter the consultant. While a consultant’s fees may be higher than an employee’s salary, it makes economic sense in the short term.
Key Takeaway: What’s your niche or specialty? What gap do you fill? The more clearly you’ve defined this, the easier it will be for potential buyers to identify you as a solution to their problems.
Reason #3: To get things moving
Particularly in larger companies, the bureaucracy, internal politics, and company culture can result in slow progress. But a consultant can come in and get a project moving faster than an entrenched department might be able to do by itself.
Key Takeaway: Are you a change agent? What are your strategies for implementing change and achieving objectives? Put simply: how can the client be assured that you get things done?
Reason #4: To make unpopular decisions
Executives who want or need to make a decision they know will be unpopular ( layoffs and budget cuts included) may bring in a consultant to help. The consultant may be used to provide the ammunition in the form of data to warrant support of an unpopular or risky decision.
Key Takeaway: Buyers love consultants with a great business temperament, the ability to articulate their positions to a tough audience and the capability to keep everyone focused on the prize. Where have you had to make a difficult decision, or communicate bad news? How did it go? How do you handle difficult stakeholders or other project participants? Can you get somebody to vouch for your incredible soft skills?
Reason #5: To train employees
When a company adopts new technology, a consultant may train its employees. Employees may, for instance, need to learn how to operate equipment, use new software, or implement a new workflow.
Key Takeaway: Are you a trainer or an educator? On which tools are you an expert? What are examples of new skills you could teach employees?
Consultants can provide valuable and cost-effective ways for companies to deal with these kinds of critical issues. Designing a sales offer around these common needs may make you look like a better fit than one of your competitors.