A colleague and client, Andreas Dittrich in Germany attended an event where two professors and a typical client of his industry got to together to discuss the role of a consultant. Below I’ve adapted the key lessons Andreas shared with me in an email:
1. The three most important characteristics constituting a consultant’s brand are: first of all the value created for his client, followed by his visibility and reputation. Creating value is the central momentum from which everything else emanates.
You can strategically position your fees to remove or eliminate any doubt or hesitation a buyer may have in working with you.
2. Specialization is the essence of proper positioning. When asked why she (HR Manager) contracted a consultant the answer was a) the guy had good references b) he had stayed persistently “close to the ball” over a considerable period of time and – that above all – he was in a position deliver the “tailor-made suit” needed at that time.
3. How to find the right consultant? “Whenever we need a consultant for our business or a project, I call a colleague in the same industry and ask how he/she solved that problem and who supported them”. Referrals through a network are the most important source for consultancy contracts since they may minimize the risk of grabbing the wrong one, enhancing the chances of getting things done and solved.
When referrals fail, and sometimes even before a referral is asked for, a buyer will conduct an online search to see if a relevant provider pops up.
4. Newsletters are good medium to “tell stories” in order to enhance one’s credibility and expert status. People like storytelling; it intrigues and even enthrals them. Stories are usually the best way to form memories.
5. Result-orientated fees are becoming more and more important. There are many ways to go about setting up these fee structures. Buyers are becoming increasingly wary of who they buy from. They shy away from hype and wild claims. You can strategically position your consulting fees to remove or eliminate any doubt or hesitation a buyer may have in working with you.