4 Tips to Expand Business Consultancy Engagements
Working in business consultancy requires a lot of balance. Depending on how you’ve set yourself up, the most likely scenario is that you’re doing almost everything yourself. That means you’re the one doing the networking, generating leads, trying to convert leads into consulting gigs – not to mention all of the administrative tasks.
When you’ve got engagements on, it can be difficult to manage all your other duties, such as generating leads and lining up your next clients. This is why you need to find as many efficiencies as possible in the way you operate. You need to streamline a lot of your tasks, such as using easy, customisable surveys to handle the information gathering part of your job, or implementing a customer management (CRM) system to assist with marketing.
However, one of the easiest ways to improve your productivity is to turn smaller consulting engagements into much larger projects. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can do this – you’ll be surprised that it’s not as hard as you think.
Understand Your Own Skills
A key component to success in business consultancy is understanding where your strengths lie. Presumably, if you’re working as an independent consultant, you’ve already got some key skills and qualities. You’re great at networking. You’ve probably got a large network of people in the business world. You’ll have a good portfolio of previous successes. But what about your specific areas of knowledge?
When you’re looking to turn smaller projects into large engagements, you need to know the best direction to lead clients. For example, if you have specific skills in IT, perhaps a background and interest in business systems, Cloud technology or process automation, this should be an area of focus. Steering your clients towards a deeper engagement where you can analyse their systems makes sense, because you’re good at it.
Likewise, if you haven’t got a terrific handle on HR matters and staffing, you won’t be at your productive best if you guide your clients towards an in-depth employee-focussed project.
Consultancy is about understanding business, but that doesn’t mean you need to be an expert on every aspect of a business. Sure, the more strings to you bow, the better you can perform. But more importantly, you need to understand your strengths and weaknesses. This is just one way you can turn small engagements into projects that you can really sink your teeth into.
Create Client Case Studies
If you’ve done a brief business analysis with a client, and you’re trying to sell them some additional services, what’s one thing they always want to see? Proof that you can make a difference. To many business owners, the whole idea of bringing in consultants can be confusing, and they don’t know exactly what to expect. So, show them!
Start with your key areas of expertise, and begin to create some case studies to share with clients. You don’t need to compromise previous client’s privacy, and you don’t even need to use the exact experience you’ve had before. No doubt you’ve had varying degrees of success, so when it comes to creating a case study it’s ok to blend some of the best parts.
Using the example above, let’s imagine your key area of expertise is business systems. Go back through your previous experience and produce a case study showing how you identified issues, the kinds of opportunities you identified and how you implemented those changes. Importantly, show the results and the impact your work had on a company’s productivity. When you have easy-to-read, clear evidence of what you can do for a client, it makes your services more appealing.
Market Smaller Services First
Business owners are often sceptical about what a consultant can offer them. You can show case studies and make a great case for hiring you, but at the end of the day, many businesses are running on tight budgets. Most are unlikely to contract you for a lengthy, in-depth engagement without some certainty that they can benefit.
So, how do you get around that when trying to drum up business? One of the best ways is to offer a smaller service. It might be a simple analysis – something that you can do cheaply and cost-effectively for you and the client. It’s important not to be put off by the idea of ‘working for free’. In your line of work, offering a basic business analysis is no different than any other introductory offer designed to entice new clients.
Use Surveys to Drive Further Service Offers
A great way to do your ‘introductory’ analysis is by using surveys. Surveys are a business consultant’s best friend when it comes to gathering information and data that can be turned into a further sales pitch. It might be running customer surveys to identify systemic issues within a company, or it could be a staff engagement survey to find out what the people on the front-line would like to see improved.
The best thing is, surveys are cheap and don’t impact your bottom line. You can find easy-to-use, customisable surveys that you can save and use with all your clients. We offer these at Spark Chart, and they’ve helped plenty of business consultants grow their business.
Once you can identify some areas of a business that need further investigation and attention, that’s where you can justify your service offer. If the data gleaned from your surveys shows an obvious problem, clients are more likely to engage you for ongoing work.
By knowing your skills, understanding how to tap into the needs of clients, and developing service offers that you can confidently sell, you can grow your business consulting service and increase your profits by making some small tweaks to how you operate. By adopting cheap, functional tools, the only way is up for your business (and your clients!).