Winning a consulting project is like asking a teenager to complete chores. You hope for instant acceptance, but more often than not you need to wade through a few frustrating discussions first.
Since most consulting proposals encounter at least one round of discussions before you seal the deal, below, in their barest form, are 10 best practices that will help you close more projects at higher values with more clients.
(Note that this refresh of Negotiation Best Practices presents a number of ideas that weren’t included when the list was originally published in 2016. Also, to skinny the list to 10, I removed a few best-practices that are still relevant and worth following. I’m sure you’ll add them back in your comments and suggestions!)
10.5 Negotiation Best Practices for Consulting Firms
Conduct outstanding Discovery before you submit a proposal
Up-front work results in later discussions being about clarifications rather than objections.
Remember that your consulting firm can walk away from a bad deal
(i.e., know your “best alternative to a negotiated agreement.”)
Always negotiate with the decision maker on your consulting project
Negotiating with a consulting client’s subordinate is a sure path to frustration.
Utilize the Strategic Delay
Get all objections to your consulting proposal on the table before you respond to any of them.
Start with the easiest objections then move to the hardest
If you build “cooperation momentum,” you’ll be given more leeway on tougher objections.
Defend your prospect’s point of view first
Agreeing with your prospect disarms them and forces you to think creatively.
Hold your ground
Just because your prospect raises a concern doesn’t mean your consulting firm has to make a concession!
Protect the consulting project’s requirements for success
Never, ever agree to a condition that will make success unlikely or the consulting project unpleasant
Keep reductions in consulting fees commensurate with reductions in value
It’s all about tradeoffs–for your consulting firm and for your client.
Don’t sacrifice a consulting opportunity to uphold “negotiation best practices”
Remember, the goal is to win consulting projects, not to brag about best practices!
What other best practice(s) do you keep in mind when negotiating with a consulting prospect to win a project?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.