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Note: I’m posting an article which I’ve recently posted on my private web site, Alan’s Forums. I thought it would be of interest here, and I also wanted to demonstrate the kinds of issues debated there 24/7 globally. If you’re interested: www.alansforums.com.

Why do some people go through realtors instead of just selling their homes themselves and avoiding a near-universal six percent commission?


Because the feel the realtor provides value in access to buyers, negotiating, suggestions for maximizing price, and so forth. It’s basically the same reason that a lot of us prefer to work through a literary agent than directly with acquisitions editors, or through brokers instead of directly with insurance companies.


But the operative word is “value.”


In consulting, if you believe for a nanosecond that this is a relationship business, you can’t be successful working through middlemen, whether they promise to provide leads, or use you as a subcontractor, or wax your car. This business is about buyers finding your expertise attractive. A peer who recommends you can certainly do that, but not a mass leads generation firm that is the equivalent of a 20-mile trawling net being towed through the north Atlantic.


The same generally applies to people who will get your article in front of a hundred editors for possible publishing, or a speakers bureau setting up a “showcase” (read: meat market) of 20 speakers auditioning, or a trade association newsletter with a “special edition” featuring 50 consultants who all paid to be listed as “featured consultants in the special edition.”


You can see that franchises sell hamburgers and coffee, price-sensitive commodities which are boosted by centralized marketing and mass purchasing. But franchises for consulting, or recruiting, or coaching are just insane, and make only the franchise hawker rich. There is no H&R Block model for speaking, nor is there investor interest in “Consultants R Us.”


The “easy” way to be successful in this business is non-existent. The intelligent way to be in this business—and successful, not lying to your reunion class and relatives—is to work at creating demonstrable expertise around your value through intelligent marketing gravity and “reach out” activities. There are no short-cuts, no economies of scale created by paying someone $40,000 for “proprietary” OD tools and use of their “R&D factory.”


Fortunately, the model to individual success is well established and you can see examples of those practitioners all around you in this community. But if you want to cut the line, be aware that you’re in the wrong line to begin with.


Don’t follow the middlemen. By definition, they’re not at the front, they’re in the middle. Or, perhaps, in the muddle.


© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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