As you target future prospects and projects for your consulting firm, ask that good-looking consultant in the mirror: “Where do you have the right to win?”
Billy, the standout voice in my college gospel choir, pined to play The Witch in Steven Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods. Sondheim listened to Billy’s audition but, ultimately declined to offer Billy the part. Perhaps because the cast of characters specifies the Witch is a mezzo-soprano female and Billy is a male.
In Sondheim’s mind, Billy didn’t meet a requirement of the role and, fair or unfair, was not a viable contender for the part.
Many small consulting practices are Billys, expending precious energy auditioning for projects they have no hope of winning. Yes, there’s definitely a case to be made for acting boldly and confidently seeking projects that will stretch your firm.
However, it’s easier to maintain high morale and subsidize expansion efforts when you’re consistently closing new, lucrative initiatives. And that means understanding what my friend and colleague Richard refers to as your “right to win.”
If you’re diligently thinking Right-Side Up, you’ve already focused your practice on pervasive, urgent, expensive client problems (see the Problemeter exercise and Fishing Where the Fish Are, here).
Now you need to be perceived as a viable option. The four questions below will help you identify where you have a right to win:
Four Right-to-Win Questions
1. Where do we bring more experience with the situation or desired outcome than any other alternative our prospects typically consider?
2. Where have we delivered demonstrable results; ideally, deliverable as a short, hard-hitting case study?
3. Where are we well known or perceived as a thought leader?
4. Where do we have effective, easily demonstrated tools, processes and/or approaches?
Your charge is to simultaneously focus on prospects where you have a right to win now, and enhance your right to win in the future.
Can you evolve your right to win? Sure. Since my choir-mate Billy went on to win a Tony award for best actor in a musical, I’m guessing Sondheim would let Billy play whatever part he wanted.
With hard work, talent and a few good breaks you can earn a right to win any business. For the moment, though, focus on where you can win right now.
I’m curious: tell me where you have a right to win.
Text and images are © 2022 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.