I’d like to move up within the consulting company where I currently work. We’re a small firm that has done most of its work with the DoD in the DC area. We’re also wanting to move into more commercial work in the area. I talk with the partner regularly about moving up, and his normal answer is “sell work,” but I am not completely sure how to do that. Does anyone have advice on how consultants would sell work and hence help grow a company?
The best way to sell work is to actually try to find a way to help your client. For example, go into your current clients and have a business process discussion, for free. Map out (literally, on a whiteboard with them) what they are trying to accomplish in sales, service, marketing, supply chain, or whatever is appropriate. Take your findings and summarize them and add recommendations for closing the gap between where they are and where they want to be. Once the client knows you "get" their business and know you care about their success, a sale will be far easier.
Adam selling a satisfied client is orders of magnitude easier that finding a new client. One strategy I would suggest is having a mentoring like discussion with a client who you know, trust and have a relationship. Be open and ask that person for suggestions on how you could deliver more value to their organization. Who could he introduce you too? What strategies is this client implementing where your services could play. Don't be afraid to share your thoughts on your desire to move ahead. People love to help others who are worthy of their assistance. This strategy will show your manager that you are a serious contender for advancement.
Adam... foremost, thank you for your service. Three thoughts to your question:
1) 'Selling' comes in a lot of different forms; most obvious is what I call 'new/new' … meaning clients you've never had before. But selling can also mean 'current/new' … which implies expanding services provided to existing clients. Assuming your clients engage you because of the skills you bring, trust you engender, and outcomes you deliver, then it might suggest you have 1:1 due diligence discussions with other key contacts in the client business to understand where else you might add value and help them with their challenges.
2) Does your firm, and/or your partner, have a unique value proposition ('USP') that is distinct from others in your competitive set? And how is it used in your selling process?
3) Finally: does your firm and/or partner, have an ideal client profile ('ICP') that characterizes the nature of what kind of clients you have/have had historically? That set of descriptors, coupled with a robust USP, should together enable any person in the firm, regardless of background, to know both who, and how, successful selling should happen.
Hopefully these tips help you; whether moving up or across, these are sound business principles in the consulting field. Best wishes for success; circle back with any questions.
I hope you’re doing well and having a great weekend! Thank you for your service, and for posting your question.
One thing that I would encourage you to do is to make sure that you’re taking the time to understand your partner when they refer to ‘selling work.’ Consider having a meeting to discuss what that idea means to them, and then learn more about how your current responsibilities and functions align with that idea. For example, if there are certain skill-sets that they are looking for, make an effort to develop those skill-sets.
I would also highly encourage you to utilize our community feature to reach out to advisors who have had experience with growing their business – either in general, or within the consulting space – and ask them about it. You can search for advisors by location, experience and expertise! Feel free to reach out to as many advisors as you would like, to gain additional perspective.
I hope this is helpful, and please feel free to reach out if you have any other questions.
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