Life’s great as a consulting firm leader when you’re busy with project work and new engagements are flooding in. Alas, as the brains and face of your consulting practice, projects seem to demand the lion’s share of your time.
Then, sales slow and you’re hustling to find more projects. When you hit a winning streak, you’re back to bustling through work…
…and on it goes. Hustle and bustle. Feast and famine. Grins and grimaces. The bane of an independent consulting firm’s existence.
Except it doesn’t have to be.
Your consulting firm can win engagements and deliver value at the same time. Heck, you can sell, deliver, and still have time to hang out with your family, watch old Victor Borge videos, play badminton and spend an hour arguing about sauternes with your friends. If you know how. (How to create time, not how to argue.)
Below are five tactics to set you on your way.
How to Simultaneously Sell and Deliver at Your Consulting Firm
Treat New Business as a Client
You wouldn’t blow off a client that promised 30% or more of your consulting firm’s revenue would you? When your consulting firm is operating on all cylinders, at least 30% of your annual revenue draws from new clients.
“NewBiz Co” demands the same diligence, dedication, nurturing and attention as any other client.
Rainmakers at your consulting firm should attend to sales (a.k.a. business development) at least one full day per week.
Outsource, Delegate and Automate
You’ll find your life is richer in many ways if you release your iron grip on administrative tasks, analytical work and parts of your consulting projects.
Offload to your subordinates (if you have them), freelancers, subcontractors and your clients.
When you assign tasks to clients, they value your work more highly and create time for you to win more clients. How awesome is that?
Fall in Love with Systems
Systems and processes are your route to freedom. The vast majority of tasks your consulting firm performs during a typical day are routine.
Presentations, proposals, deliverables, outputs, emails, and outreach conversations can all be templated to save time and improve quality. Systems also make it easier to outsource/delegate.
Plus, it’s much easier to knock out a few business development calls when your CRM tells you exactly who to call, and you have a pre-written script for reference.
Decouple Value and Effort
If your consulting firm charges based on effort, every non-billable hour feels like a tax on your wallet. Consequently, your desire to maximize your current billings crowds out the need to develop business.
Even consulting firms that have escaped time-based fees often equate effort with value. As a result they overwork projects, which is not appreciated by clients. (Remember, if your client doesn’t value it, it doesn’t have value.)
Focus on creating value for clients rather than on devoting time to projects, and time will open up for your marketing and sales efforts.
Build Capacity Into Project Designs and Contract Structures
You don’t have to be 100% devoted to a project to deliver outstanding results quickly.
Identify common choke-points in your consulting firm’s typical projects, then you can create strategies to bake in free time while ensuring your projects tick along smoothly.
In addition, you can create “hidden” capacity for your consulting firm through clever proposals.
For example, you could offer a discount in exchange for an option to take a “vacation” during the project. Alternatively, you could offer rapid turnaround at a significant premium, then use a portion of that premium to hire subcontractors.
The five ideas above are just a starting point, of course. What else do you do to create the ability to sell and work projects at your consulting firm?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.