This fully revised 1992 edition of Million Dollar Consulting, a classic, guides you through everything you have to deal with and win in such a lucrative and all-consuming world of consulting.
Million Dollar Consulting will give you a set of tools that you will need to attract customers, organize their flow, and grow your current consulting business to a million-dollar level.
Alan Weiss is the founder of Summit Consulting Group. He has written over 50 books, including Getting Started in Consulting and Million Dollar Referrals. Besides the fact that the American National Association of Speakers has included him in 1% of the world’s leading speakers, Alan Weiss is a consultant to a huge number of companies, and his constant income is more than $ 1 million per year.
This book is available as:
Start Your Million Dollar Consulting
Not everyone is happy with work in the corporate world from nine to five, and more and more people decide to apply their knowledge, skills, and experience in another, more profitable industry: in consulting.
But any successful consultant knows that independent practice is not only accumulating a great fortune. In fact, success in consulting includes the development of a huge array of knowledge, as well as the acquisition of a wide range of experience and skills. It makes it possible to carry out such changes that could potentially affect the lives of tens of thousands of people.
In this summary, you will learn how to establish your own company and generate a customer flow that will bring you a million dollars. You will also find a lot of useful tips here, be prepared for the fact that some of them will seem to you very illogical to achieve success in the consulting industry.
You will also learn from this book:
- why successful consultants often lose customers
- why it is necessary to put customer relationships above money, and how it will help you become richer,
- How to bill $ 50,000
- why you should never negotiate through an intermediary, and
- why free time is your true wealth.
The Consultant, First of All, Gives Its Clients Value.
What does it take to become a doctor or lawyer?
This is quite simple: there is a strictly defined set of requirements that you must meet, such as, for example, completing internships in residency, after which you receive a certificate that gives you the right to start your own practice.
While the requirements for those who want to become a doctor or a lawyer, as in many other professions, are rather narrow, now almost anyone can call himself a consultant. Then what does this word really mean?
A consultant is a person who has a unique set of skills and qualities, thanks to which he gives the client valuable components that are absent in his business. The value they give can come from two sources: specialization in a certain field of knowledge (content specialization) or specialization in the process.
Content specialization is achieved through training and work in a specific area with which your professional experience is associated. In other words, this is your professional “comfort zone” in which you feel most competent.
This expertise is built on the special skills and talents that make you successful in a particular industry or field of knowledge. If you advise a firm, for example, as an expert witness in a litigation, then you act as a content specialist.
In contrast, the specialization in the process, which relates to more specific areas, is applicable in almost any environment and includes, first of all, a set of highly effective techniques for solving any problem.
For example, Bain & Co. for many years she created strategic planning projects, and thus gained experience, thanks to which she achieved competence in the process of building strategies. It is logical that the consultants of this company will specialize precisely in this area, as they are most familiar with it.
This specialization can often be more valuable than content, especially for independent consultants. The fact is that it has a wide range of applications in various industries that can help make up for the lack of content specialization.
Give Yourself the Opportunity to Be Noticed
Starting a business is not an easy task, and often the main obstacle is attracting the attention of potential customers to your services. How do you do this?
There are two main ways in which companies look for consultants: word of mouth and an independent source of information.
Word of mouth marketing is the simplest and most effective of these two methods, as it brings customers directly to you.
Unfortunately, since word-of-mouth marketing is built on the direct recommendations of customers or other people who at least have heard from your ears about your services, this process is almost impossible to control.
Despite this, it brings significant results. The author of the book was able to trace that many of his most valuable projects grew out of recommendations from other clients or other completely unexpected sources.
Therefore, it is important that you, in addition to providing first-class services, treat the interaction with each potential client as a personal “moment of truth” and regard each such interaction from the point of view of building long-term relationships. After all, consulting is a “relationship business,” and your success directly depends on the relationships you build.
Of course, you can contribute to this process by directly asking your satisfied customers to recommend you to someone.
Word of mouth marketing should be supported by the real value that you give, so it is important to maintain all your successful cases, as well as take care of maintaining the intellectual property in order to build a strong reputation and demonstrate the essence of your work.
Everything you do, from publications, speeches, interviews and sales to websites and newsletters, all increases your visibility for potential customers. Start creating intellectual property as early as possible in order to create the basic backbone of your work, and use it as a way to demonstrate your competence instead of the usual sales tools.
The best way to get people to see the value that you can add to their business is to show them the value that you have already added to the business of other people.
Focus on a Global Vision and Don’t Let Small Tasks Get in Your Way
What measures the quality of your work?
Many consultants are confused about calculating their tasks with arbitrary units of measure, such as the number of meetings held or reports written. In fact, the quality of your work is determined by only one thing: the value that you give to the client.
From this point of view, consulting means results, not actions. If you simply complete the tasks and determine the expected results without taking into account the final valuable result, you simply create for yourself a heavy and unproductive burden consisting of writing reports and sitting aimlessly at meetings.
To avoid this, you need to enter into an agreement with a client of this kind in which the word “how” is secondary to the word “what”. In other words, properly built consultant-client relations are those relations in which the guideline is the result, not the method. This is what matters.
However, in order to create this kind of positive relationship, you need to make it clear to clients how your work will be built in terms of value, rather than in terms of time spent on the project. In order to succeed, you need to come to an agreement on the goals and on how these goals will be measured before signing the contract.
This requires active interaction with the client, and it is not surprising that the best consultants constantly interact with their clients. This is because the value that the consultant gives, divided by resolving issues or transferring skills, may vary depending on the specific needs of the client.
And this can only be done by such a consultant, who is simultaneously aimed both at a close relationship with the company and at solving the most important tasks.
Demonstrating their flexibility, such consultants not only offer the greatest value to the companies of their clients but also strive to build strong and long-term relationships with them, therefore, they continue to turn to them for conducting subsequent projects.
Make Your Strategic Goals Crystal Clear
What is the essence of your consulting business, and what distinguishes it from most?
Behind each consulting firm is a unique motivational force that determines the strategic goals and path of business development.
Unfortunately, companies too often formulate their missions like this: “We want to help customers achieve the best results,” or “We want to be at the forefront in our industry.”
The problem is that such statements are too generalized and vague. Good mission statements are tied to the specific goals and results that the company intends to achieve. For example, if you want to improve customer service, your strategy may look like this: “We create and implement a set of tools in which customer feedback will be used to demonstrate positive changes in our work. ”
Or, if you specialize in process optimization, you can “help customers increase staff productivity by analyzing needs, improving communication, and collaborative decision making.”
It does not matter how you formulate your strategy – the key point here is to show how your value will be realized, and thus separate your proposal from everyone else.
This strategic goal should always be supported by your primary motivation for both financial and personal growth.
There is hardly any other profession in which the learning curve goes up so steeply as in consulting. This means that your ability to give clients value is directly proportional to new experiences and new skills, which in turn justify raising your fees.
At the same time, each new transaction ideally will give you new valuable contact and a strong relationship with a client, which will help you improve your online dating network and enable word-of-mouth marketing.
This means that you should always benefit from some deals. If the business does not meet your growth strategy, for example, if the project does not fit your financial plans, does not present any difficulty or does not stimulate your professional growth, do not take it.
In Order to Ensure Growth, Sometimes You Need to Fire Customers
Have you ever been told by a doctor that to improve your health you need to cut off something from your life, for example, smoking or eating sweets? Surprisingly, the same is true for consulting: sometimes consultants stop growing because they do not want to get rid of bad customers.
This happens because consulting firms do not work like other “businesses” who always try to sell their products or service to as many people as possible. For example, manufacturers of carbonated drinks. In order to ensure your growth, both financially and in the field of customer relations and professional competence, you need to be able to get rid of the least profitable projects.
As your experience grows, checks will grow with it. This is useful not only for your wallet but also for your reputation. If you become known as a “low-cost alternative” and desperately grab any opportunity to earn, your fees and reputation will be appropriate.
Instead, you need to make sure that the quality of your work is always above the quantity, that is, one project for $ 50,000 should always carry more value than ten projects for $ 5,000.
In fact, the time and expenses required to conclude a transaction of $ 100 thousand or $ 10 thousand do not differ much, so it’s obvious that taking on larger projects is much more profitable and valuable for you.
And since the value that you give increases as you gain experience and develop skills, it makes sense to increase the price tag that you set accordingly.
Therefore, your strategic goals should include an intention to constantly add value to the projects you are undertaking.
There is a good way to check if you are doing it or not. Look at all of the projects that you have worked on over the past couple of years, and determine if they have 15% that you no longer take, leaving room for more profitable projects.
If you do not constantly grow, your success will be undermined at some point. However, being constantly looking for opportunities to expand your business, you will steadily grow up, and your well-being will also grow with every step.
Consulting is a “business Relationship”, So Building a Good Brand is Crucial
The most important actions of a consultant are to differentiate a business and search for its niche – but how to achieve this? The answer lies in building a personal brand and customer relationships.
Although we are always told not to do this, people still judge the book by its cover. Knowing this, you must be sure that you are creating a personal brand that people will love and recognize.
Whether you like it or not, part of this brand is how you present yourself. You should have some good suits and accessories, and it’s important for you to behave like the professional you are. Strive to stay natural while avoiding things like hairdryers, strong perfumes, or tanning beds.
However, your final trademark is not your face, but your name and logo that is associated with it. Therefore, you always need to use the logo on everything that you produce. Potential customers should be able to recognize your work in an instant and immediately contact you.
It is also necessary that your business is officially registered as a legal entity. Otherwise, you will never be perceived as a true professional, and you will constantly miss the opportunity to work on truly profitable projects.
It is also important to understand how you define yourself, or rather, your specialization, which makes you competitive and individual services that set you apart from the market. Nevertheless, your relationship with customers ultimately determines whether you will be perceived as a trustworthy assistant or as a hunter for a one-time profit.
An ideal relationship is when the client trusts the consultant so much that gives him the opportunity to make decisions himself, and is also confident that the consultant behaves responsibly and does everything in the interests of the client.
An easy way to build trust is to provide your best personal mobile phone number. The ability to call you anytime provides a sense of security and partnership.
In addition, you do not need to be afraid to insist on your position on important issues, especially when the company’s internal policy threatens the success of the project. In the end, good customers will understand that you are acting in their best interests and will only begin to trust you more.
Focus on Values and Building Partnerships When Negotiating With a Potential Client
Consultants who do not do this often fail because they cannot convince the client of the value of their proposal. This happens because there are a number of obstacles that can impede the course of negotiations.
Firstly, you often find that there is an intermediary at the negotiating table in front of you – someone authorized to say no, but not entitled to say yes, for example, a human resources officer or mid-level manager. Under no circumstances do you start negotiations with an intermediary, and always insist on the presence of a person who can really make important decisions in the company and sign papers and checks.
Secondly, you need to be able to answer four main objections, because of which the client can refuse your services: no money, no urgent need, no need and no trust.
No money or no urgent need: The key to circumventing this obstacle is to focus exclusively on the value in the negotiations. If you successfully demonstrate how the problems your potential client is facing will be resolved and can explain what value you are giving, then your services will seem more necessary and the price more reasonable.
No need:In fact, “the essence of marketing is to create needs.” In general, customers usually know exactly what they want, but do not always know what they need. To overcome this point, you need to determine what the needs of customers are, show them why they need this, and then explain the value that you can create by meeting these needs.
No trust: If you do not have a relationship with a client and he does not have trust in you, then you can forget about successful negotiations. To develop this relationship, you need to identify the problems that worry or scare your client and provide frank feedback, positioning yourself as a “potential partner, not a seller or sneak”, and convince him that you have only satisfaction only of his interests.
If you succeed in overcoming these obstacles, the client will have no choice but to say yes.
Payment Should Be Taken for Your Value, Not for Your Time.
It can sometimes be difficult to translate the services you provide into a cash equivalent. Many consultants make the mistake of setting the price per day or per hour, but unfortunately, this not only interferes with productivity but can even be considered unethical.
This happens because the time you spend on the project is not valuable in itself, just as it is not valuable to the client. The only thing the client is interested in is a change for the better, in other words, value.
If the money you take is based on the time you spend, then stretching the time period instead of caring for the transfer of value becomes your hidden goal. Solving a financial issue of this kind makes you and your client opponents of each other: the client wants quick and serious improvements, and you want to stretch the time of the project.
In reality, however, fees based on the value and relatively short time of the project are much more suitable to meet the client’s needs for quick results, and your desire to grow personally, professionally and financially.
The same applies to actions. Customers are not interested in the tasks you are facing – they are interested in the results. In addition, as many tasks are repeated, each repetition becomes less and less valuable. Results, however, are becoming more valuable as they accumulate.
So how do you set a price?
Here are a few things to consider:
- What quantitative and qualitative benefits can you provide your customers?
- How will this affect the customer’s reputation?
- How much emotional energy will you have to invest in this project?
It is also important to consider the scale of the project, the number of people who will have access to your services and the average duration of the project.
Ultimately, the only way to get the fee you deserve is to convince the customer of the value that you give, and then simply name the price. Many people, however, cannot convincingly request huge amounts of money. Try to practice in front of the mirror by saying the phrase “it will cost 50 thousand dollars” and trying to demonstrate confidence that will justify the requested amount.
Do Not Let Immediate Success Cloud Your Mind, and Always Keep Your Business Running
How far ahead are you planning your future? If you are like most consultants, you do not look beyond the immediate moment you receive the money. This pattern of thinking leads most consultants to lose sight of impending problems. In order to stay afloat, you need to carefully monitor the volume and layout of the upcoming work.
There is an excellent and, perhaps, the only way to evaluate your future prospects. It is called the Conveyor. A “conveyor” is all your long-term, short-term and current projects for a period of time, all “signed and stamped”, which reflects your 100% income.
The “conveyor” should be filled with short-term closed transactions, both with your current customers on an ongoing basis, and with new customers coming on recommendations. You also need to spend a lot of time determining the prospects and goals of direct marketing.
And since most companies have a clause in their policies that don’t allow them to enter into agreements for several years, most conveyors will only reflect a 12-month period. For you, this will mean a realistic estimate of annual cash flow and profits.
A poorly structured conveyor belt, however, can lead to a huge number of problems.
For beginners, the lack of work projects will be crushed by the need to attract new short-term clients, which almost always means small deals, small fees and a lack of growth opportunities.
In addition, if your moments are unevenly distributed or mixed up, you may have to hire contractors or enter into an agreement with other consultants to complete all the work. This, in turn, reduces margins and growth opportunities.
You also need to make sure that your “conveyor” is constantly under control. If you notice a lack of new prospects, as well as a lack of repeat transactions with existing customers, this may mean that your marketing efforts are ineffective, or that you fail to build relationships with your customers.
Diversification and Investing Are the Best Protection Against Bad Times.
As a result of the 2008 economic crisis, many consulting firms suffered substantial losses and were forced to drastically reduce costs. Others, on the contrary, were able to achieve significant success, despite the problems in the economy.
What did they do differently?
Answer: they invested in their customers despite cost reduction, and benefited from the diversity of their services and excellent customer relationships. The economy can be compared to a hydraulic system: “When one part goes into decline, the other part rises.” Thus, if you have the right strategy, you can use the crisis as your advantage.
However, despite the economic situation, you need to diversify your services in order to be able to help both those companies that flourish along with the economy, and those that flourish during economic stagnation.
Indeed, some industries – for example, pet care and healthcare – remain fairly stable during economic depressions, and you probably want to be able to “catch” these companies at the right time.
The second way to protect your business is to expand your customer market geographically. This strategy will help avoid the effects of regional economic downturns, as well as avoid pressure from local competitors.
And if you still have problems during economic stagnation, you can distract from customers and concentrate on improving productivity in other areas, primarily in marketing. For example, you can call old customers and partners to maintain a good relationship, write several articles for the magazine, and give a speech somewhere on how to deal with problems during a crisis.
In the end, during periods of crisis and uncertainty, most competitors fall off. And customers will immediately notice the decline in the quality and value of their services. You need to act in exactly the opposite way, fill the void that formed after the departure of competitors with double efforts so that customers can notice your value.
Meditate From a Long-term Perspective if You Want to Get the Client of Your Dreams
In order to become the most successful consultant, you must set yourself the goal of becoming indispensable for your clients and build a long relationship with them in order to maximize your profit and fill your schedule.
To achieve this, you need to think strategically and for the long term, even if you need to spend money on some opportunities that will give you more knowledge about the organization of your customers to make you an indispensable asset.
With each project that you are involved in, your value as a consultant will increase as you learn more information about the essence of the organization’s problems and, therefore, can give more value to the client.
Knowing the positive and negative aspects of your client’s business, you can more successfully find those areas where you can give value, propose new projects, and thus increase your fee.
In order to get this valuable information, start work on the project in advance, in order to get an idea of how the organization works, what role shareholders and key managers play in it.
This period should by no means end during the direct work on the project, since there is always something that you can find out, but at the beginning you need to pay special attention to meeting all the senior staff, as well as middle and junior managers in order to find out their roles in the company, as well as how they use the resources and technologies available to them.
In addition, you can accompany people who are involved in sales, and even try to talk with key customers to find out their opinion about the company.
After you successfully complete a couple of stages of the project and collect enough knowledge about the organization of the client, you will reach the end point in building a client-consultant relationship. In the words of the author of the book, “you will become a wise person whose contribution to the client’s business will be a symbiosis of personal talents, knowledge about the organization and personal relationships established with the leadership.”
Keep a Balance Between Work and Life – Your True Wealth is Your Free Time
Obsessed with the idea of achieving financial success, many consultants end up spending their whole lives in airplane seats and customer offices, spending time with their families only on weekends, if any, at all. Others, however, are convinced that their true wealth is free time, and that money is the way to achieve such a life.
If this is about you, then cultivating your own business can mean a decline in your well-being.
In fact, it is a holistic view of life that makes you a good consultant, and not just focus on business. This happens because you get more energy only when your life is balanced, which, in turn, improves the results of your work and helps customers see in you not only a professional but also a holistic personality.
But how to achieve a balance between work and leisure, which will allow you to live more fully and prosper?
First of all, you must realize that there is no strict separation between your professional and personal life. There is only one life: your life.
Therefore, you must eliminate timelines, and instead act when your heart tells you. If you want to finish work on Sunday and go to the beach on Monday – great! As an independent consultant, you are the master of your time, so you have every right to use it at your own discretion.
Secondly, the secret to a fulfilling life is diversity. As Nietzsche once wrote, “every day there are hundreds of pockets if you know what to put in them,” so you need to make significant efforts to never stop learning and strive to learn something new. Avoid isolation, find inspiration in other people and help them in order to maintain balance in your own life.
Lastly, stay healthy and fit and regularly reward yourself for any achievements. A healthy body is a home for a healthy mind, health enhances your self-confidence and desire to know the world, and also makes you more resistant to stress.
Consulting is a relationship business in which your methodology or academic degree does not matter to anyone.
The only thing that really matters is the value you give your customers. As you grow on the path to success, do not forget that your free time is not just money – it is your true wealth.
Always think in terms of value, not your own tasks.
Customers do not care about the number of tasks that you need to solve in order to complete the project.
They are only interested in one thing: the result.
Therefore, it is much better for you, and for them, to consider the structure of the project in terms of the value that you bring to the company, and not the number of hours that you will have to spend in order to complete the project.
Put relationships with potential customers above money.
Yes, to make a deal for $ 50,000 is certainly cool, but it would be much better if you build a network of professional contacts that will bring you such deals on a regular basis. Your success and your well-being are directly dependent on how other people treat you.
Why You Should Read “Million Dollar Consulting”
- To succeed as an independent consultant.
- To successfully work with consultants or hire them.
- To improve business results.
This book is available as: