Consulting clients love to see evidence of progress. It’s a business-building, psychic reward that you can provide. Invest three minutes into contemplating why and how to integrate scorecarding into your consulting practice…
Your Scorecarding Indoctrination
Remember jumping off the school bus and scampering home to show your mom the ✔+ you earned on a quiz? (I have more memories of scampering home to dive into a bag of Oreos, but let’s go with the check-plus imagery.)
Those innocuous checkmarks, hastily scrawled by first-grade teachers across the country, are planting seeds that you can harvest into a healthy bushel of new business.
Since your formative years, you have been rated, ranked, and reviewed based on concrete metrics – usually with numbers.
Performance metrics have been pinned on you like ribbons on a military hero. College entrance exams (400 to 1600 on the SATs), grade-point average (0 to 4.0), annual income ($0 to $zillions), body-mass index (15 to “the Oreos habit didn’t stop in elementary school”).
You (and your consulting clients) constantly seek quantitative indicators to evaluate options and make choices.
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? (By the way, this book has a 4.9-star rating on Amazon.com. Just sayin’.)
Since your clients measure and judge the world as much as you do…
Scorecarding is a habit you should embed firmly into your consulting practice.
Scorecarding means keeping track of the benefits you generate for your clients. The “indicators of success” section in your Context Document and proposal specify some of the metrics you should be using to tally the value you produce.
Concrete Floats to the Top?
Imagine you turn on the weather channel and the serious-looking announcer intones, “A big blizzard will hit you tomorrow” then quickly moves on to tell you it’s warmer in Australia. You flip to another station, where the sprightly meteorologist explains, “You can expect to see eight inches of snow by 6:00 p.m.”
The second forecaster earns your praise because his information is more concrete, he enables you to compare this week’s blizzard to last week’s dusting, and his 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.
Many of my consulting clients complete a battery of benchmarking questions that allow us to gauge progress year-to-year. The resulting data also show that the average consulting firm’s success increases 189%—a concrete performance metric that’s attractive to many prospects.
No matter what type of consulting you offer, you can track your performance and trot it out to prospective clients.
Even subjective, loosey-goosey work can be measured, tracked, scorecarded and touted to prospects. Remember, completely qualitative attributes can still be captured on a compelling scale clients gobble up. (The success of the DiSC personality test proves that.)
Your clients’ “ultimate result” needn’t be the only metric—in fact, you may not highlight that result at all since it’s outside your control. Instead, point your client’s gaze to barometers that suggest progress.
The first consulting firm I worked for was brilliant at scorecarding. We tracked everything we could think of: sales per foot of shelf space, profit per item, return on inventory investment, millimeters of dust on the shelves. Then we would use that data to show prospective clients that we could increase sales, profit, and ROI. (Clients seemed oddly indifferent to 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.
Share Your Scorecards
What are one or two metrics that you could (or already do) track with your clients?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.
Hi David! Great article! What tips can you give on trying to determine what metrics to measure?
Also, I think the graphic below should say “improving your business in 2018” instead of 2017.
Good question, OJ. Presumably, your consulting firm is focused on solving a tightly defined problem for a precise target. That means you know what success looks like and what the predictors of success are.
For instance, if you help clients with leadership, what is success? Probably things like the organizations confidence in your client’s decisions, happiness with various cultural attributes, strength and clarity of the client’s vision, and so forth. All of those are measurable, as are predictors and proxy measures such as employee morale, attrition rates, etc.
Net: understand what clients want to see and measure. That’s your starting point.
Thanks for bringing this question up.