Many prospects see consultants as fair game for free brain picking. You are not in that business so you need to implement a fairly simple three-step screening process. If leads fail to meet your requirements, move on to a new prospect.
Do Your Research
- You need to clearly understand the specifications and expectations of each project. Clients who cannot clearly write or state their goals are not serious prospects.
- Before investing your time, you must understand the funding status of every new project. Until funds are committed, the project is only a concept.
- You must meet with the client decision makers and project supporters. Establish an information hotline so that you are aware of all project developments.
- Consultants have a right to know the criteria that will determine the project award winner. This will help shape your submission and set performance standards.
- Consulting firms must verify that the project is within their scope of expertise.
- When you learn how your firm qualified for the list of candidates, you will know about the seriousness of the inquiry.
Show and Tell
- Savvy consultants know that there is a feeling out process for new client-consultant relationships. New clients want to know about you and you need to learn how the client operates. This show and tell stage is a step-by-step revelation process.
- Be prepared for every new client meeting. Encourage clients to ask questions and provide supported answers. Stay away from selling tactics and stick to informational output.
- Learn about the new client by visiting web sites, reading brochures and any other information you can locate. Be current on company developments.
- Establish the client’s goals and let those objectives lead you presentation. Stay on track by keeping those priorities on the forefront.
- When you ask a question, listen to the way your new client relays information. Understand the client culture and voice.
- Show the potential client articles or consulting books you’ve published, work you’ve done, websites of clients you’ve been involved with, and anything else that you think might help win their trust and business with you.
- Create a short summary of each conversation and meeting and date this information for future reference. Whenever a meeting or conversation is concluding, set a date for the next meeting.
Use Your Screening information Diligently
After performing your research and staging several show and tell meetings, you will have a good idea if this new project will benefit your consulting practice. Keep your eye on the ball and get to the bottom of any uneasiness. Business consultants develop sixth senses about their new clients.
Respond to your instincts by getting to the bottom of core issues before the serious work commences. If you cannot get comfortable with the project after this process just move on. You don’t need all the consulting work to be successful. You need to be comfortable with the assignment so that you can perform well and with a clear direction.