Win More Consulting Engagements with a Better Pre-Sales Process
Oct 05, 2017
I know you’re busy, but could you squeeze in one more client?
If your answer was anything other than, “Of course!” you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog. The truth is, regardless of the economic climate and state of the industry, landing new business always seems to be the top priority for consulting firms.
Now, this is not to imply that firms are thoughtlessly onboarding client after client with the sole aim of increasing their billing (at least, we’re sure your firm doesn’t do that). Even in a highly competitive North American market for consulting services, we’re seeing that firms still care about providing a quality of services that nobody else can match.
But here’s the thing: today’s clients have created a seemingly impossible situation for firms like yours. Because there’s more competition, they expect you to “wow” them with every presentation. At the same time, they’re no longer willing to pay you top dollar because chances are, some other firm will work for just a bit cheaper.
The bottom line? To win more consulting engagements you’re somehow expected to increase the value of your services while also cutting your prices.
One Approach That’s Not Working So Well
Responding to the pressure to do more with less, many firms have transitioned to a work-at-home model. It’s not hard to imagine why: rather than providing expensive office space for your employees in some major city, you can simply offer them the perk of working at home in their spare bedroom.
For the consultant, it means no commute. No dressing up. No mediocre lunch specials at the overpriced local bistro. No headaches at all—unless their fifth-grade son happens to be practicing saxophone in the next room.
But for you, it presents a challenge: managing a team of consultants who can’t see each other. Sure, there’s email and the phone. But the truth is, working alone in a home office can make team members feel like they’re not, well, team members. This can take its toll on productivity and morale.
Even if your firm hasn’t launched a work-at-home program, you probably encounter plenty of situations in which you’re conducting a meeting while at least one team member is on the road. If so, you know the challenge of getting people to communicate and coordinate when they’re working in different time zones.
Let’s be clear: work-at-home is not a failed model. It can and should work. But by itself, it’s not a sure path to delivering outstanding services at the lowest possible cost. If you really want to do that, you’ll have to think bigger.
Let’s take a look at what your firm can do to differentiate itself throughout the lifecycle of any client and win more consulting engagements. We’ll begin with the pre-sales process.
Avoiding the “Same-Old, Same-Old” in Your Pre-Sales Process
Throughout the pre-sales process, every firm tries to differentiate itself from the competition.
How? Oh, you know….by interviewing the prospect with a standard list of questions, writing a proposal, emailing it to the prospect, and waiting for a response!
These are the conventional methods of landing new business. To be fair, they do work sometimes. But you’re here to gain an edge. So let’s look deeper.
In a recent Bluescape survey, we found that while landing new business was still the top challenge for consulting firms, the second- and third-biggest challenges were getting the information they need from clients and developing innovative recommendations, respectively.
Ah-ha. So, by finding better ways to get information from clients—by going beyond the standard prospect interview—you could immediately develop a better understanding of their needs. Wouldn’t that set you apart? And wouldn’t that information enable you to come up with more impactful recommendations?
After all, “garbage in, garbage out.”
Now, one way to get better input from clients, and to turn it into meaningful insights, is to spend more time with them face-to-face. But as you’re about to see, there’s technology nowadays that enables you to collaborate and engage potentials clients in real time.