The connections that link your consulting business and prospective clients together are touch points. These touch points can be your web site, a web log, your telephone, cell phone, fax machine , letterhead, brochures, e-mails, written correspondence, Instant Messages and any other point of contact. Your marketing plan has shaped your external appearance. You have committed to consistency and integration so that all your touch points promote each other and your consulting services.
Be prepared for every contact and recognize that first impressions last. But, do not underestimate the value of subsequent contacts. Drill the importance of these touch points into everyone who contributes to your business.
At each touch point, make sure that your consulting business is represented well. Respect your consultancy, respect your clients and make sure it shows. Your message should epitomize professionalism. All correspondence, including the spoken word, should contain good grammar and a clear businesslike delivery. Telephone procedures should be flawless. Names should be remembered and used.
All written communication should be edited to perfection. This includes e-mail and Instant Messaging. Never drop your guard. When clients call, they are listening and shaping an opinion of your consulting business. When clients read your correspondence, read your web log or view your web site, an opinion about your consulting firm is being constructed.
Every touch point counts. They not only deliver your message, they speak volumes about your consulting abilities. If you get it right up front, your consulting services will get in the door.
Get to the Core
One of the keys to your consulting business will be your ability to get to the core issues as soon as possible. In an issue of the 1966 Harvard Business Review, Warren J. Wittreich wrote, “the responsibility of the service firm is to identify that problem (the client’s) and define it in meaningful terms.”
If a consultant is necessary, the client realizes the existence of a problem. Very often that client is too close to the trees to identify the problem. The consultant that listens can sift through the trees and get to the core of the problem.
Clients tend to site the symptoms of a problem. As a consultant, you need to recognize the symptoms for what they are; results of a more chronic problem. Your ability to recognize the core issues and provide solutions for those core issues will determine your success
Once the core issues are identified seek short and long-term solutions. Stay on course. In the end, the client will evaluate your value by your ability to locate the problem and get a long-term solution in place.