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Refresher for Consultants

Refresher for Consultants

Here are some definitions which are absolutely critical to gaining conceptual agreement with an economic buyer and creating a proposal that’s accepted every time:

OBJECTIVES: These are always business outcomes, never deliverables. A “three-day management retreat” is a deliverable and an arbitrary alternative. “Creating seamless management/client relationships which maximize repeat business and minimize duplication” is a business outcome. You can move from deliverables to outcomes by asking, “Why?” as in, “Why are you considering a management retreat?” That will move the buyer from alternatives to objectives.

METRICS or MEASURES OF SUCCESS: These are indicators that show progress and/or completion. They must be based on environmental evidence and/or observed behavior. They can be scientific (e.g., increase in average sales size as measured by the monthly sales reports) or anecdotal (e.g., people coming to me directly for resolution of conflict with other departments will drop from one a day to one a week). Bob Mager’s famous line helps here: “How would you know it if you tripped over it?” When people say they don’t know how to measure improvement, ask them how they know the issue isn’t working right at the moment. What’s the indicator? There needs to be at least one metric for EVERY objective.

VALUE: The nuance most overlooked, there should be 3-4 value statements for EVERY objective. Value constitutes the impact on the organization when an objective is met. It may be monetized and tangible (e.g., saving $2 million a year, reducing attrition by 7 percent) or non-tangible and emotional (e.g., the work environment aesthetics will improve, I’ll feel less stressed). Even something as obvious as profit as an objective can yield diverse value (more investment in R&D, larger bonuses, attract more investors, pay down our debt, and so on). The more value, the larger your fee, because the ROI will be all the more dramatic.

You need to reach CONCEPTUAL AGREEMENT on these three points prior to the proposal with the buyer. The proposal is, therefore, a summation NOT an exploration (or negotiating document).

An ECONOMIC BUYER is someone who can “write a check” without any other approval for the project in question. They are virtually never found in HR, training, or learning and development. Those areas primarily deal with venders who sell commodities, such as training programs, not consultants

Resources of mine:

Million Dollar Consulting, The Consulting Bible, Value Based Fees, Million Dollar Proposals, How to Acquire Business

© Alan Weiss 2012. 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.

Comments: 6

  • Alan Weiss

    June 24, 2012

    Exactly what should be happening.

  • michael cardus

    June 24, 2012

    This method increased by proposal acceptance rate.
    Consistently I hear from clients that I was the only person who took the time to learn and understand what was needed and how I could improve their condition.
    Also, compared to other proposals…clients consistently say how impressed they were by what I sent.
    This has also moved buyers from option 1 to more option 2 and 3 therefore increasing the outcomes and value to the buyer and me.

  • Ron Montgomery

    December 13, 2012

    The OMV approach is also valuable for internal proposals for projects, particularly I.T. projects. Typically, measures of success for projects are “time, cost and quality.” These typical measures are internally focused and do not describe whether or not the project provided business beneft. BTW, I included a link to this blog entry in a Linked In discussion forum for Program Management Offices (PMOs).

  • Alan Weiss

    December 20, 2012

    Thanks for the comments!

  • Daniel

    November 13, 2013

    I have been successfully implementing Mr. Weiss techniques in my own consultancy in the last year.

    Still, I having sobre problem with the measurment of the agreement.

    It turns out that different companies have totally different and therefore subjective interpretation for phrases like “Creating seamless management/client relationships which maximize repeat business and minimize duplication”.

    From a closing deals perspective, it improved the rates. The customers loves the one page proposal with options, and the easy straightforward business oriented objective, ROI and measurment.

    But, when it comes to “finish the project” – showing the evolution is not easy. Connecting it directly to the consultancy work, and not to – just luck, or other business factors, is not easy at all.

    Some customer try to use the subjectiveness to get some scope creep out of it.

    Another two issues is regarding granularity. When it is the first time working at a customer, I prefer giving a proposal with reduced scope. Not just to make facilitate the customer decision, but so I can get a perception of whether or not, I believe at the customer.

    Finally, during the project, I need resources from the customer (like people availability, documents etc.). Turns out that when people are not available, and documents are NOT accurate – it is really frustraiting… because your success depends on externalities that are not under your control.

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