There’s an impressively effective method for winning new consulting projects that is only possible when you’re working at the enterprise level—i.e., you’ve transcended your immediate decision maker and are talking with her peers across the organization. I call it Triangulation.
To triangulate you’ll have to hone your ability to recognize and encourage Want and you’ll need to tap into the desires for Inclusion and Social Proof. Remember, Need provides the rationale to do a project, but Want – that sense of urgency and desire – is what compels a client to actually move forward and spend money with you. (And yes, I know the illustration above shows a prism, not triangulation. Trust me, a bit of free association will help you succeed with this technique.)
I’ve broken down Triangulation into three steps.
STEP 1: Invest in One-on-One Conversations Across the Organization to Uncover Individual Wants
The better you know the individuals throughout your client’s organization, the better you’ll know their to-do lists and their unique, personal drivers. You’ll know who is hot on product development and eager to climb the corporate ladder, whose goal is to bang out efficiency projects and spend more time at home, and who mysteriously collects a paycheck for gazing out the window at passing butterflies. How do you learn this? By investing in open, one-on-one discussions with people.
After a while you’ll find out that Max is extremely concerned with how he’s perceived by peers, so your proposals to him will include public scorecarding. In contrast when you submit a proposal to Bernadette, whom you’ve learned is motivated by fear of failure, you’ll introduce mechanisms to minimize project risk. Irene would give her right arm for an insect on a pin… we’ll just skip her.
STEP 2: Recognize the Common Desires for Inclusion and Social Proof
In Step 1 you uncovered individual, internally focused Wants. But people have outward-focused, social Wants too. Your buyer has a strong desire for Inclusion— she wants to be part of a group or team. She also seeks Social Proof or group reassurance—confirmation from others that her choices are right. Not every decision maker you encounter will harbor these desires, but most will and your job is to recognize who does.
STEP 3: Expose Wants that are Shared by Multiple Individuals
When you become adept at the art of uncovering Wants, and you’re conversing with decision makers across your client, Triangulation kicks in.
You’ll be chatting with Ray in Operations and he mentions optimizing distribution, but it’s not his top priority. At lunch, Ellen from Marketing raises distribution as something she wants to get to at some point. Then you’re having drinks with Carla the CEO and she says, “You know what, one of these days we should work with you to improve our distribution process.”
Boom, you’re off! When you reveal to Carla (or Ray or Ellen) that others in the organization share her wish to optimize distribution, she receives strong Inclusion and Social Proof signals. That increases her Want and your distribution project shoots to the top of her priority list.
Triangulating Wants will become your favorite part of working at the enterprise level. It sometimes feels like you’re manufacturing big projects out of wisps of possibility, and that’s how you build a booming consulting practice.
Have you ever Triangulated a project into being? Tell us about your success in the comments section below.
This article is Part 6 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 © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.