Your consulting firm has probably encountered more resistance from prospective clients than usual over the past eight weeks. Fortunately, you can understand and overcome the elevated stumbling blocks.
The basics of winning consulting projects haven’t changed. Keep them moist and use lots of butter. No, wait. That’s for sheets of phyllo dough. To win consulting projects, your consulting firm still needs to outperform every alternative on The Six Pillars of Consulting Success.
However, the change and uncertainty that have swept the globe have also spawned two shifts in how prospects evaluate your consulting firm’s offerings.
Heightened Risk Sensitivity
Prospects are more sensitive to risk. Therefore, you must clear a higher Trust threshold to win consulting projects.
In particular, prospective clients are less certain you can help right now, and more concerned hiring your consulting firm will (inadvertently) cause harm. That’s not personal to your consulting firm—distrust is in the air.**
Extended Time Horizon
Prospects want to maximize their flexibility to take actions in the murky future. In order to preserve cash for unforeseen activities, prospects heavily discount the Value of your near-term consulting project.
You’re competing with future priorities as well as current needs, and that’s a larger, tougher competitive set than your consulting firm typically faces.
Equip your consulting firm to succeed by updating your messaging, your relationship-building conversations and your discovery process to confront both challenges.
Specifically, develop concrete, written answers to the following questions:
- Given that your consulting project will consume precious resources now, why does your offering not reduce your client’s flexibility to respond to future priorities?
- Better yet, how does your consulting firm’s offering improve your clients’ ability to quickly respond to future circumstances and exigencies?
- What additional reassurances can you provide that working with your consulting firm won’t inadvertently leave your client worse off?
- What new support points can you provide that bolster your claims? Social proof is particularly powerful right now (e.g., “In the past two weeks, we’ve started baklava consumption projects with a number of bakeries very similar to yours.”)
Have you noticed other shifts in clients’ buying criteria?
Text and images are © 2021 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.