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How to Create the Perfect Consulting Offering

Last week, a solo-consultant I work with told me he did everything “wrong” in a client meeting but walked away with a $75,000 project. No one walked out of the meeting with a black eye, so obviously his characterization of the meeting was exaggerated, but the fact remains that he won business despite some missteps. How? He had a great offering that his client wanted.

I’ve had a run-in or two with killer products. Just like Billboard announces the top songs every week, the scorekeeper in the consumer products market is Advertising Age magazine. Before I started consulting I was fortunate enough to be featured as one of Advertising Age magazine’s “Top 100 marketers.” Groovy award, but winning it was about 10% skill and 90% fabulous product. Stores are stuffed with goods that sell millions of dollars every year with little or no marketing because they’re great items. Think a cure for cancer would need much marketing or advertising? Exactly.

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The same holds true in consulting. If there’s one thing I’ve seen consistently in my work with hundreds of consultants it’s that a killer offering will generate substantial income even if your marketing is nothing to write home about. (Yes, you do need to be decent at the entire client acquisition process.) Without any marketing chops even a great offering will sell about as well as a baby mop** or dogbrella**.

Before I describe the elements of a perfect consulting offering, let’s talk about the two-ton sandbag holding your business down. Because, until you cut yourself free of this anchor you’re likely to see nominal gains, at best. The weight hindering your growth and the biggest obstacle to finding a killer offering is, quite simply: Your current definition of what you do.

As long as you’re afraid to let go of what you are and what you offer now, you’ll never be able to embrace a new, better definition of yourself and your value. I see consultants cling to definitions like, “I’m a strategy consultant” or “I have 20 years of marketing experience” or “I’m an expert in project management.” Internally focused statements like these are the consulting equivalent to Kodak’s commitment to film. How’s that been working lately? It’s useful and necessary to know what you’re good at and your passions, but to find a killer product, you can’t start there.

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I often say that revving up your consulting revenue requires the compelling communication of the right solution to the right people about the right problem at the right time. Construct your perfect consulting offering by focusing on the first three. The checklist below breaks out these three components more and will guide you to a product that could increase your revenue by an order of magnitude.

The problem/aspiration:

  • Is urgent, pervasive, and costly to leave unaddressed
  • Is easy to diagnose
  • Is easy to understand

 The people:

  • Have the need and the money and the authority to buy the solution
  • Are aware of the need or can easily be made aware
  • Are reachable by you

The communication/solution:

  • Articulates an obvious, concrete benefit
  • Is easily said by you
  • Is so concise and understandable that it’s easily repeated by others

Finally… You:

  • Are not tied to your past – the offering is about client needs, not your ability
  • Are willing, able and passionate about delivering

Developing your killer offering may take some time and definitely requires feedback from prospects. You can take the first step right now, though: in the comments box below type in an urgent, pervasive, costly problem you solve. If you can’t think of one, type in your target and other readers and I will give you some ideas.


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69 Comments
  1. Jose Sevilla
    October 25, 2017 at 9:29 am Reply

    Hi David, what’s your opinion on the below?

    At “xxx Inc” we have the capabilities and expertise to help your organization facilitate change, achieve its vision and optimize performance and productivity using a) Process and Performance Analytics; b) Risk Analytics across 4 fronts: Credit Risk, Fraud Risk, Operational Risk, Health Risk; c) Strategy Analytics: Cognitive Forecaster Model, Marketing Strategies Optimization, Sentiment Analysis; and d) People Analytics – Behavioural Predictions

    Thanks in advance.

    • David A. Fields
      October 25, 2017 at 9:44 am Reply

      Jose, you’re headed in the right direction. There are a few opportunities to improve this, though (and I’m assuming you’re writing just about the idea, not copy or a Fishing Line, because what you wrote would need to be condensed for either of those).

      • There’s no target definition yet. Who are your Right People? “Organizations” is too broad and won’t give prospects confidence that you’re expert in their industry.
      • There’s no problem statement yet. What’s the urgent, pervasive, costly problem you’re solving?
      • Your description focuses on the approach, rather than the solution, and therefore needs to be simplified and shortened

      Hope that helps

    • Jose Sevilla
      October 25, 2017 at 10:02 am Reply

      Here’s a revised version I formulated after reading the fantastic feedback on all the above postings.

      Are your internal processes too costly and thus affecting your bottom line and the delivery of value to your customers?
      Is your business making risk decisions based on intuition or rather supported by strong data analytics?
      Would you prefer to make strategic market decisions based on the future trends rather than past behaviour?

      At Sevenfold Vertical Solutions we have the capabilities and expertise to help you face these challenges in a more effective and profitable way.

      • Jose Sevilla
        October 25, 2017 at 10:15 am Reply

        Thanks David!! Your feedback makes sense and it’s very much appreciated.

        Here’s another more robust version (I’d like to think).

        Have you noticed how in most service industry organizations, whether it’s financial services, consumer products goods or health services, regularly internal processes are too costly and thus affect your bottom line and the delivery of value to your customers? Have you seen how sometimes risk decisions are based on intuition rather than supported by strong data analytics? Would you prefer to make strategic market decisions based on the future trends rather than past behaviour?

        The Engineers, PhDs, Data Scienists and Risk Managers at Sevenfold Vertical Solutions have the capabilities to help you face these challenges in a more effective and profitable way.

  2. Jose Sevilla
    October 25, 2017 at 10:14 am Reply

    Thanks David!! Your feedback makes sense and it’s very much appreciated.

    Here’s another more robust version (I’d like to think).

    Have you noticed how in most service industry organizations, whether it’s financial services, consumer products goods or health services, regularly internal processes are too costly and thus affect your bottom line and the delivery of value to your customers? Have you seen how sometimes risk decisions are based on intuition rather than supported by strong data analytics? Would you prefer to make strategic market decisions based on the future trends rather than past behaviour?

    The Engineers, PhDs, Data Scienists and Risk Managers at Sevenfold Vertical Solutions have the capabilities to help you face these challenges in a more effective and profitable way.

  3. Royce Poinsett
    October 25, 2017 at 10:29 am Reply

    Hi David, I am a lawyer and lobbyist at the Texas Capitol in Austin. How about this for a fishing line?

    “Royce Poinsett is an attorney and lobbyist who works with businesses to resolve their complex, high-stakes problems at the Texas Capitol.”

    • David A. Fields
      October 25, 2017 at 2:55 pm Reply

      Royce, the focus on “problems at/with the Texas Capitol” strikes me as a nice, tight problem definition with high urgency and cost. Great work on that. “Complex, high stakes” is a bit of a throwaway–if they’re not complex or financially meaningful they’re not going to reach out for help anyway. Can you narrow down “businesses” at all?

      Nice work!

  4. Tiger Todd
    September 24, 2018 at 11:11 am Reply

    Thank you for the enlightening lessons and consulting wisdom, David.

    • David A. Fields
      October 10, 2018 at 6:42 am Reply

      Consultants like you, whose entire purpose is helping others succeed, are what make this community great. Thanks for being part of it, Tiger.

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