Million Dollar Consulting® Mindset
From Alan Weiss
Volume 1 Number 6
A monthly newsletter with the objective of quickly and pragmatically helping consultants to improve their craft, results, and lives.
Who Is The REAL Buyer?
The true, economic buyer is the person who can authorize payment for your value. Colloquially, it is the person who can sign the check, which still often happens in small businesses, but is usually a check authorization in larger firms.
Understand that a “60-day payment policy” merely means your invoice sits on someone’s desk for 59 days down in procurement or accounts payable. Include in your proposal and agreement with the buyer that the payment be made when you want it, not when the company wants to make it. All buyers can circumvent policy by making a phone call (except in government, and even then, sometimes), and can usually have “manual checks” created outside of the system.
If someone says that they “have the budget” but have to run it by someone else, that person is not the buyer, despite the budget, because they can’t approve payment. Someone on Facebook actually tried to tell me that he was a buyer, but his boss had to approve actual proposals. He was kidding himself. Don’t let him kid you.
Buyers are virtually never committees. Someone has a budget, who is either on the committee or to whom the committee is making a recommendation. Never argue with non-buyers, because they can’t say “yes” but they can say “no”! Thus, focus on building strong, trusting relationships with the real economic buyers.
The executive vice president of a public institution tells a consultant he has worked with before to provide a proposal to coach five of his people. She complies, he accepts, and says, “Tell the human resources director I want to do this, and it should come out of her budget.” The consultant does just that, and the HR director says, “If the vice president wants it, it’s fine with me.”
However, after two of the coaching candidates are finished, the HR person says, “I’ve been researching this, and your fees are too high compared to others. We need to renegotiate.” When the buyer is contacted, he says, “I’m going out of town for 30 days, simply work out a compromise with the HR person and cancel the final three coaching projects.”
We advised the consultant to tell the vice president (and ignore the HR person) the following: “We have a legal and ethical contract, and I’m a small business owner whom you are trying to bully. If you don’t resolve this prior to your departure in conformance with our prior agreement for the full amount, I’ll immediately take the matter to the president and board of trustees.”
Don’t allow yourself to be pushed into unfair compromise. You take the risks of being an entrepreneur, and you deserve the rewards. Stand up for yourself.
Frequently Asked Question
Q. How do you handle a cynical response in a workshop such as, “That’s fine, but it will never work here”?
A. This happens to all of us. The first thing to do is not become defensive, but to find the cause of the skepticism. “Why do you believe it can’t work here?” is the next question. Once the skeptic explains why (and force them to be specific—don’t accept, “It’s not the right climate”), ask the rest of the group if they agree. Most groups are self-sanctioning, and some will debunk the skeptic. But some may agree with the doubts, and it’s better to surface those reservations than to try to “swim upstream” by teaching something no one believes will work. Deal with fact, not opinion, and be prepared to a) provide ideas that will help make the approaches work, and b) go to your buyer and explain that there are legitimate skeptical factors that need addressing by management.
Las Vegas, NV
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