The right tools can multiply the effectiveness of your efforts, enabling you to grow your consulting firm’s revenue and profit faster. Since I’m frequently asked what tools I’ve used to build my practice, I’ve compiled a short list of business tools that my team employs day in and day out to bring in more clients, more projects and larger engagements.
Join.me or GoToMeeting – If you target clients around the country (or world), in-person meetings are often infeasible or impractical. We conduct extremely effective, virtual meetings that engage prospects using join.me (we used to use GoToMeeting; both are good). These tools allow us to work with a whiteboard, sketching out ideas and responding to the prospect with frameworks and “instagraphics” on the fly. Virtually everything I do involves a team that isn’t on site, and join.me is perfect for hammering out a project plan, reviewing an idea and perfecting a presentation.
Pipedrive.com – Want to consistently improve at anything? Then you must track your efforts and progress. Hulking giants at the gym note every rep and every pound hefted. Internet marketers analyze every promotion and mouse click. Consultants like you and me need to track our outreach efforts and prospects’ movement through the pipeline. There are plenty of great CRM applications including the giants like Salesforce.com. Personally, I use Pipedrive.com. It’s simple, intuitive and, while most CRM software is really built for the sales manager, Pipedrive caters to the person drumming up business.
ScheduleOnce.com – I detest the calendar dance. It sounds like, “You can’t do Wednesday at 4:00? Okay, can you talk Thursday at 9:00 or 10:00? No, well, uh… what about next Monday afternoon?” Talk about an energy-suck! For the past couple of years, any client or prospect that wants to meet with me is directed to my online calendar, powered by ScheduleOnce. It sidesteps the calendar dance and integrates seamlessly into my team’s workflow. Instead of missing prospect meetings because the frustration of finding a common time derails the process, prospects immediately see me as being flexible and easy to work with.
Mindjet.com – Everyone thinks, plans, and organizes differently. For me, mindmaps are the go-to format. They corral my thinking about projects, articles (including this blog), processes and more. Even my daily to-do list sits in a mindmap. Again, there are plenty of fine mindmapping applications and I highly recommend you use one like Mindjet that is resident on your desktop as well as online. Mindjet is not without flaws, but overall it’s robust and team-friendly. (One downside to Mindjet is that the Mac version of the desktop application doesn’t play nicely with the rest of the team.)
Elance.com – The best tool, of course, is another person who is better than you at whatever task you’re undertaking. Tapping others’ talents to multiply your effectiveness is the epitome of leverage. For every task on your to-do list, ask, “Could someone else do this faster and either well-enough or better than me?” If the answer is yes, then seek out that someone else. I’ve spent almost $100k in the past couple of years on contractors found through Elance. Online marketplaces abound: oDesk, Freelancer.com, and Guru.com are a few respected alternatives. For editing work, I’m a fan of scribendi.com. Regardless of the platform, to enjoy outstanding results always write a good project description, review portfolios and feedback on candidates, and, for big projects, hire a few folks to work on a pilot or sample.
These five, online tools have proven to be invaluable for my firm’s growth. What are YOU using to fuel your firm’s success? My readers and I want to learn from you. Please post your favorite online resource below.
Text and images are © 2015 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.