Remember jumping off the school bus and scampering home to show your mom the check-plus you got on a quiz? (No, I don’t either, but since scampering home to dive into a bag of Oreos doesn’t support the story, let’s go with the check-plus imagery.) Those innocuous check marks, hastily scrawled by first-grade teachers across the country, are planting seeds that you can harvest into a healthy bushel of new business.
Homework and quizzes were the start of a long, continuous indoctrination into the world of scorecards. Since your formative years you have been rated, ranked, and reviewed based on concrete metrics – usually with numbers. You scored somewhere near a perfect 1600 on the SATs and your GPA was a 4.0. (These days your GPA would be a 6.8 thanks to AP adjustments, but back in the day an A was an A.) The numbers don’t stop there, though, and they aren’t always performance related. Your driver’s license says you’re 5’11” and weight 215 pounds, indicating the Oreos habit didn’t stop in elementary school.
People love metrics and measures. Do you know roughly how many miles your car runs on a gallon of gas? Sure you do. And when’s the last time you shopped for something online without looking at the number of stars it received? Exactly. (By the way, my first book has a five-star rating on Amazon. Just sayin’.)
Since the people you want to consult for love metrics and measures as much as you do, scorecarding is a habit you should practice regularly. Scorecarding means keeping track of the benefits you generate for your clients. You know that “indicators of success” section in your Context Document and proposal? That’s not just there for show. It’s the metrics you should be using to tally the value you produce.
Imagine you turn on the weather channel and the serious-looking announcer intones, “there’s going to be a big blizzard tomorrow” then moves on to tell you it’s warmer in Australia right now (imagine that). You flip to another of the 80 weather channels provide by your cable service and the sprightly meteorologist there also comments on the impending winter storm: “You can expect to have eight inches of snow by 6:00pm.”
The second channel’s information is better because it’s more concrete, it allows you to compare (is this blizzard going to be worse than last week’s?) and the sheer precision demonstrates superior depth of knowledge and experience. If you had to contract for some weather consulting, which meteorologist would you choose? The latter one, of course. If you call me about improving your new business performance, I could tell you that your revenue is likely to increase, or I can let you know that as of last week, consultants who have gone through the Irresistible Consultant Program have increased their revenue, on average, 189% in twelve months. Setting aside the shameless plug, which information would make you more likely to sign up?
No matter what you do, you can track your performance and trot it out to prospective clients. Even subjective, loosey-goosey work can be measured, tracked, sccorecarded and touted to prospects. The first consulting firm I worked for was brilliant at scorecarding. Our core offering was helping consumer products manufacturers increase their performance at retail outlets and we would track everything we could think of. Sales per foot of shelf space, profit per item, return on inventory investment, millimeters of dust on the back row of product. Then we would use that data to show prospective clients that we could increase sales, profit, and ROII. Clients didn’t seem to care much about dust.
If you are actively consulting, you should be actively scorecarding. Simple as that. You create value for clients, so measure it, track it, and show it off to the world. Oh, by the way, this blog post is 659 words. Just so you know the score.
Text and images are © 2019 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.