Two laws govern your ability to win projects from clients today and in the future. The Law of the Amazon and The Law of the Amazon.com.
Both laws relate to the “Need” pillar in the Six Pillars of Consulting Success
The Law of the Amazon.com is: If you want a juicy passion fruit you type “passion fruit” in the search bar, press a couple of buttons and a dozen arrive in two days.
The Law of the Amazon is a bit different: if you want that aromatic fruit you bushwhack for days, slashing through the sweaty, equatorial jungle until your machete reveals a berry on the vine. Or you scatter passion fruit seeds in fertile, tropical soil, nurture them and, eventually, harvest your luscious treats.
The law of the Amazon.com applies to individual projects. You meet with prospects and search to find out whether they need what you offer. If they do, you’re on your way to winning an engagement. When you focus your energy on prospects who need what you do and are aware of their need, securing new clients can be a relatively quick process. I call this “Fishing Where the Fish Are.”
The Law of the Amazon applies to the enterprise level. It’s how you win multiple projects from diverse parts of a company over many years. When you’re already in a client, you have the opportunity to think longer term for them and for yourself. Your goal is to expose needs that the client isn’t aware of and plant seeds for future engagements.
My “Sexdrant Model” illustrates the difference:
Expose needs by conducting a diagnostic, which can range from a very simple exercise with a group of decision makers, to sophisticated, data-based investigations. I’ve used customer interviews, time diaries and historical analysis all quite successfully to open decision makers’ eyes to immediate opportunities.
I’ve also used vision meetings and high-level questions to spark awareness of current needs. You can download a handy list of questions at this link.
Your route through the Amazon also involves planting seeds for future projects. Call attention to nascent and developing issues and, while you’re at it, foster a greater sense of urgency. You can spur faster action by benchmarking against competitors and by pointing out the consequences of letting the problems fester.
Finally, you’ll enjoy broader success in your clients when you look for other rich soil that could hold offshoots of your current efforts.
Bring up parallel and related initiatives that will benefit the wider organization. For instance, your work optimizing the strategy for one division might be easily ported over to five other divisions.
Identifying and developing Need across an organization definitely takes more attention and diligence than responding to immediate, individual project opportunities. However, just as the Amazon will yield succulent delights long after Amazon.com has passed into obscurity, nurturing Need at the enterprise level will deliver lucrative engagements for years and years after you tackle your first assignment.
What has your experience been with long-term clients and the Law of the Amazon?
*This article is Part 5 of a seven-part series in which I show you how to win more follow-on and pull-through business by mastering the Six Pillars of Consulting Success at the “enterprise” level.
Text and images are © 2020 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.