When do you know when to waive the opportunity to send invoice to a client? And when do you know how to intermittently freeze sending invoices to a long-term client? And when do you offer your structures to help your clients save money by relying on your systems? And when was the last time you brought a business to your client?
There is a clear advantage on running a consulting boutique not tethered to big global consulting firms: freedom to innovate on relationship building. Building a business relationship and making yourself a trusted ally would not happen overnight: you must earn any trust by investing in your clients, demonstrating that you want them to WIN.
Do not make money to anchor your advisory engagements: focus on value to be created to that client. If you do that, you would have a separation from competitors. Yes, it is incumbent on you to demonstrate why you are unique and demand to be paid by perhaps more experienced business legends. If they see the value to be created, the vaults will open, for you. When companies are looking for business insights, they know they would pay. But just as they are “confused” [they do not have all the answers], they would not like to retain and pay for “confusion”. That is why inertia exists to just hire: they want certainty on the value to be expected.
Interestingly, the easiest way is to start working even before the client finalizes on some issues, if that opportunity is possible. Send a roadmap with clarity on how you would go about fixing the business friction. Before the client knows it, you have something on the table. I know many people are fearful of others stealing their knowledge; I have always seen that concern as pure ignorance. If people can steal your ideas through a written document, you have nothing to offer at a deeper level! If you do not get out of that thinking, you would not even have a way to demonstrate capability before clients.
As you work, you must make efforts to understand the pain points, working to fix the main friction in that business. As you design roadmap, present what I have called Unification of Three: a concatenation of World, Africa and Nigeria. Then posit why your client in Nigeria will win with a specific action plan. You can only build confidence in that client if you demonstrate you have a clear understanding of the world and the continent even though the game would be played in Nigeria. Do not give him the opportunity to remind you what they are doing in New York and Kenya: offer them and then architect a roadmap taking into considerations the local terrains and realities in Nigeria.
Numbers matter but I can assure you that what is really catalytic is measuring the important things. Yes, do not be too fixated on capturing every metric. Find ways to know what matters. How do you grow or help that client scale? My message is to watch the marginal cost and from that elemental business component of scalable advantage, develop a model. If you miss it, you will never scale.
No matter what the engagement is – think growth because at the end every firm wants to grow. Do not limit your imagination on the written scope for the sake of it – liberate and while adhering to scope, find vistas to unlock value for your client.
There are things that bring more engagements – one of the key is making clients WIN and that is simply GROW. If you do not have a game plan on how clients can grow, go and acquire the capability and return. Yes, without the growth capability, no one will remember you afterwards, as the clients did not experience moments after your encounters. By looking at the end goal, even an IT engagement will be correlated to business objectives. By linking all those nexus, you become a trusted ally who can figure out how technology expands the business and not just IT department.
Have a great week ahead.
You cannot manufacture a car by simply reading a book with a title: How To Manufacture Car. What makes the engine to come alive is not in that book, it’s located somewhere else. Same goes for ideas that can be stolen, the originality of such ideas is obviously debatable.
If you can bring universal problem to specifics, and tailor it down to client’s challenge; and on the other hand, can extrapolate specific challenge to solve universal problems, you will remain eternally relevant.
At the end of the day, it boils down to EXECUTION. It’s not so much about what was said and how it was said, but rather who acted on what was said, and the level of conviction and enthusiasm therein.
Like the Divine Master admonished in the holy book: Go and Do Same!
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