Management Consulting Essentials: Client references
This is the 11th post in a series of posts addressing the issue that too many independent management consultants are working too many hours for too little pay.
See the end of this post for a summary and a list of subjects in the series.
This post is about winning your clients as references
It is all about trust
Clients choose external management consultants only for projects, which are very important if not outright critical. They choose the management consultant to perform the assignment based on trust. This means that they will apply the following priorities in their choice of consultant:
- Do we have good experience using this management consultant from previous and similar assignments?
- Has the consultant been recommended by someone we know and trust?
- Is this management consultant qualified for the assignment ?
- Does the consultant have solid references?
Your current and past clients
You obviously use the referrals and recommendations from your current and past clients to win new clients. Next to new projects from your current clients, referrals and recommendations should be your second largest source of new business. Why? Because this reduces your cost of sales dramatically. Potential clients will come to you with an active and urgent need. They will talk to you because you have been endorsed by someone they know and trust.
Should you make customer testimonials publicly available on your web site and Linkedin? Absolutely!
You should ask for short testimonials from your clients and have them added to your Linkedin profile as well as posted on your web site. You can draft a text yourself, which your client can alter or extend as he wishes.
Policy: No testimonials given!
Although I personally haven’t come across any yet, I know there are companies out there who do not accept giving testimonials. Such policies obviously lower their value to you. You must consider if this constitutes a “no go” position on your side. Having a client, which you cannot use as a reference has little value.
It is standard practice in the industry to endorse someone who has done an outstanding job. If your client wish to deviate from this standard code of conduct he should at least pay a premium for your services compensating you for the lack of referral value.
The next post: Delivery
Increase your prices: Summary
I meet and talk with a lot of independent management consultants. 99% of them are extremely busy. They are so busy that they have little time to learn new approaches, keep up with the development in their area(s) and develop their business. Most of them even complain that they are too busy. They also use their busyness as an “excuse” for not being responsive and not meeting deadlines.
When I ask why they are so busy the unison answer is: “client projects”. My response is: “Fantastic, you must be making tons of money?” Answer: “Silence.”
The silence continues when I ask them: “When will you increase your prices and with how much?”
This series of posts will address the “many hours/low price” issue, explain the causes and provide recommendations for how you can remedy the situation. Applying the ideas should enable you to work less hours, make more money and have more fun at the same time.
Other posts in the series:
Post #1: Brand values and positioning
Post #2: Networking
Post #3: Pre-qualification
Post #4: The first meeting
Post #5: Self assessment
Post #6: The objectives
Post #7: The deliverables
Post #8: Pricing
Post #9: The proposal
Post #10: Price and Payment terms
Post #12: The delivery
Post #13: The Quest for certainty