When you’re talking with a prospect for your consulting firm, one of your most difficult tasks can be establishing the value of your potential engagement. The simple, Three Sides approach below makes your task easier.
Let’s say Cher Little, the VP of Stuff at Vageny Lusive reached out to you last month to inquire about your consulting firm’s services. Today, after weeks of scheduling conflicts, you finally have a call with Cher to discuss her needs.
You’re prepared to walk Cher through the six parts of the Context Discussion.*
Well… except, maybe, the Value section.
Uncovering the value of an engagement for a prospect can feel awkward. During past attempts to explore value with a consulting prospect, perhaps you’ve become lost, flustered or uncomfortable. So, now you frequently skip that section and substitute questions about whether stevia leaves developed a bitter aftertaste just to mock animals.
That’s a drag.
Because, to maximize your consulting firm’s fees and margins it helps to know the value of your engagement to your client. (If you’re setting your fees based on time, you’re likely to be earning much lower margins than you could, and you’re not serving your clients’ best interests.)
And, while there are multiple chapters devoted to establishing a project’s value in this book and this book, more recently I developed a Three Sides approach and have found it easy to remember and implement.
Three Sides of Value: Upside, Downside and Inside
If your potential consulting engagement with Vageny Lusive revolves around any sort of aspiration (as opposed to remediating a problem), start by discussing how Cher will be better off at the end of the engagement.
Simple Questions: Why bother doing this project? What meaningful impact will [your desired outcomes] have on your business, your customers and/or your employees?
The “37 Sources of Value” may be a useful resource for guiding your Upside discussion with prospective consulting clients.*
If Cher reached out to your consulting firm to solve a problem, lead your Value discussion by asking how they will be worse off if Vageny Lusive chooses not to move forward with the engagement.
Simple Questions: What if you don’t do this engagement? What risk does that create or how might you be worse off than today?”
Regardless of how you start your Value discovery with Cher, do not omit a discussion of the soft value: how Cher will personally gain from successful engagement with your consulting firm.
Simple Question: What does a successful project mean for you, personally?
Remember, Cher won’t move forward with your consulting firm based on the Upside or the Downside; soft motivators—the Inside—are the real reason projects close.
Do you use an approach similar to the Three Sides to determine the value of your projects to clients? What questions have worked well for you?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.