Using DATA as a Consulting Sales Accelerator
BestWork offers powerful analytical tools for consulting practices, but the most profitable and immediate advantage for consultants is in the power of the DATA to close new business in a competitive marketplace. Few engagement opportunities are handed directly to any consulting firm. Most prospective clients are reviewing the offerings of several other consulting/training firms. Even when there are no external competitors, often there is the option of using internal resources. Of course, the universal option is to do nothing at all; save the money, and hope the situation improves. All of these present competition to a consulting firm.
Unfortunately, the complexity of the competitive landscape is in sharp contrast to the decision-making processes in most situations. The decision is rarely based on merit, expertise, and competency. The very nature of the intervention may be thought-leading and therefore, unfamiliar to the buyer. In most cases, it is outside their realm of knowledge in any case, so the true value points are blurred by the issues that they can recognize, such as cost, time involved, and schedule conflicts. This being the case, the decision as to which consulting/training firm wins the engagement defaults to:
the most persuasive salesperson
the most fascinating marketing material
the one with the reputation
the least expensive
the one we know
the one our neighbor knows
the last to present
What if one firm changed the game? What if one firm addressed the inherent reality of the buyer’s anxiety over the decision? The buyer has many concerns that are seldom addressed or even acknowledged:
✦ Are we addressing the right problem?
✦ How big is the problem?
✦ Is this training going to work?
✦ Who will benefit from the training? (Remember that most training engagements were purchased to “fix” the participants that cannot be “fixed” but the benefit to the other participants makes the program acceptable, on balance.)
✦ How long will the effect of the training last?
✦ How risky is this decision for me?
✦ Is there a safer solution? (Note: “safer” not “better”)
✦ Am I going to be able to keep the benefits of the training going even though I don’t know this as well as the consultants?
✦ We did this last year and here we are doing it again.
✦ I am not sure we are even aiming at the right target?
These, and other concerns, are wild cards that too often, stall decisions.
What if one firm took a different approach and led with DATA. The conversation might be:
“This is an important program for your company. Would it make sense to inventory the strengths and abilities of the team first? In that way, we can see any obstacles or issues before we get too far into a program. This will dramatically minimize your risk, while at the same time, giving us both a blueprint to plan out the optimum solution for your team.
Here is an example of what I mean: (Show the Executive Team sample or the Sales Team sample, depending upon the discussion.)
For the client, the DATA:
a. Enables the program to be focused for the greatest effectivenesswith each person
b. Enables the costs to be limited to those participants who canbenefit from it
c. Minimizes the risks of the program
d. Enables the program to be crafted for the ideal objectives rather than a generalized goal
e. Opens a myriad of performance analytics for the individuals andthe group
For the consulting/training firm, the DATA:
a. Bypasses the sales and competitive process, and enable them to become a trusted advisor as the DATA is reviewed
b. Creates a sustainable competitive advantage with that prospect as the DATA is the key to a myriad of interventions
c. Links the firm to future engagement with that prospect because they understand how to use the DATA
d. Generates additional revenue, since the prospect will most likely integrate the DATA into their talent acquisition process.
Inventories can be implemented with teams of any kind before any type of consulting engagement. In those situations, the DATA is used to map out the topology of the teams, identifying the most effective interventions for the individuals in a particular program. A program based on DATA will easily beat programs that promise to develop as needed, once they are begun.
The “Would it make sense to inventory the strengths of the group first...” works because it does make sense. It is a more effective approach. The consulting/training firms that embrace it will win the engagements.