Tag Archives: Consulting

Smaller Consulting Companies Play Tug of War with Customer Ownership


Often, when a consulting contract is closed and the delivery phase has begun, a sigh of relief can be heard now that the competition has folded their tent and gone away. We believe the battle is over. In many cases, however, the battle has just begun. Yes, the internal battle of “Who owns the account?” “Is it sales or delivery?”

Until this point, Sales took the spotlight and, in many cases, shared it with a pre-sales consultant. They worked together to create the proper expectation and showcased their company’s capabilities. After the sale, the spotlight quickly moves to delivery where the ‘real sale’ is tested. Delivery must exceed expectations, not only to grow that customer but also to put another arrow in the salesperson’s quiver when securing referrals for new customers. Salespeople typically have a challenging time letting go and thus the sales vs. delivery ‘tug of war’ begins.

Delivery, if trained properly, can have the customer looking for more opportunities as the aura of credibility fills the customer’s to do list. Why then is the sales rep so reluctant to give the delivery person his or her moment in the spotlight? Maybe it’s a throw back from the old Sales philosophy that any account is MY ACCOUNT – hands off. The new reality is Delivery now has the customer’s faith and any reentry from the sales rep named ‘Joey Needanymore’ is not welcome.

I often see Sales trying to run internal meetings with Delivery. The concept sounds like a good effort to get everyone to work together as a team but, when Sales runs the meeting, a different outcome is the usual result. Delivery’s eyes roll and this adversarial phase now accounts for the least desirable part of their employment experience.

Times have changed. Customers want to buy but they don’t want to be sold. I will always put my money on a sales rep, using all the company resources availed to them, closing a new deal over a delivery person. However, I will always double down on a well-trained delivery person to grow that customer. I am not talking about training Delivery people to act like sales people. No way. They are much more effective doing what they do while highlighting their company’s ability to deliver. This not only must be taught but must also be integrated into the consulting company’s process or the tug of war will continue until the customer finds a new provider.

Author: Rich Lucia


In Sales, March Madness Means Something Different

March Sales MadnessA quick look at the calendar and we are aware that March Madness is upon us. Ah, March Madness, a time for college basketball and the thrill of watching, cheering, and betting on our favorite team. However, in the world of sales, March brings on a different kind of madness – the awareness that one-fourth of the year is close to closing and sales aren’t where we would like them to be.

Sure, we had our beginning-of-the-year sales kickoff meeting and passed out our previous year’s accolades. At the same time, we announced this year’s revenue expectations and assigned aggressive goals. We persevered through complaints, negations, and outright begging for lower goals as we painfully reviewed individual sales representative’s business plans. Yet, we are facing lowered expectations as we struggle through March.

March Sales Madness means those business plans are somewhere out of sight, growing moss on their north side and that sales goals are being met with excuses that range from ‘the economy is bad’ to ‘our pricing is too high’. It’s a lot like when you flush a toilet. You begin to push down on the handle and start to hear the trickle of water. It’s not a complete flush but you know the complete flush is on its way. March Sales Madness is that trickle, however there is something you can do to end the Madness and get things back on course. Clients have taken the following three steps to reverse March Sales Madness and get things on the right track:

  1. Bring someone in who is not part of your organization. Someone who can look at things through new eyes and has worked with other organizations. There are many companies that have paid dearly to make the mistakes you are about to make and have had successes that you are not aware exist.
  2. Together, go through the company strategy to market. Way to often, the sales strategy is, ‘more of the same’. In a changing market with buyers getting their information and motivation differently, ‘the same’ doesn’t cut it anymore.
  3. Re-examine those individual sales business plans and determine if they fit the mission. If they do, implement a short-term strategy, follow the plan and modify when needed. If they do not, re-create the plan and begin again with short term (30 day) monitoring.

Think of January as the ‘dreaming’ phase of a sales mission. It is a whole new year of hope and high expectations. Sales tendencies that lean more towards tactics than strategies and action plans are like seeds planted with the expectation of a fine crop to harvest. March comes along and we start to recognize that many of those seeds were never watered and in many cases were planted in the wrong place. March is the time to recommit to that garden and don’t allow March Sales Madness to carry over to another quarter.

Author: Rich Lucia

Smaller Consulting Companies Can Eat the Elephant – One Bite at a Time

elephantThere is something in a salesperson’s DNA that makes hunting the “big deal” a strong attraction. Maybe it’s the power, the recognition of a big win, or the dream of a large commission check, however when selling for a smaller consulting company it might be wise to put down the elephant gun and change your thinking. You can still get the big prize, but not today and surely not in one sitting.

Customers with a need for very large projects seem to gravitate to the big Accounting/Consulting firms. These large consulting firms consistently play the “SIZE MATTERS” card to convince customers that their size, brand, and high pricing mitigates risk. The smaller consulting firms often get trapped in the RFP game, designed to round out the field and display to the ultimate decision makers, that due diligence was served. The sales person from a smaller consulting firm spends time, effort and the mental cycles of the delivery team compiling RFP after RFP that dies on the forecast projection. Besides, in many cases winning that very large deal upfront will often but a strain on delivery resources.

The smaller consulting firm must reinvent themselves from trying to sell the huge project upfront to relying on delivery to grow the base. Call it “get your foot in the door” or start off with a small project to prove your value, it will work and is the path to long-term growth. The big boys don’t like to play in that world and their resources aren’t allocated that way. I’m not suggesting one walks away from the Elephant, just eat it one bite at a time. Demonstrated value will always win in the long run over marketing promises.

So before you go out there to hunt those huge deals, leave your Elephant gun behind and target smaller “proof of concept” opportunities that can grow when nurtured properly. If you should stumble across a very large deal, use your selling ability to convince the prospect to break it into small pieces to mitigate risk and adopt a value as you go philosophy. Take the opportunity into your backyard and leave the big boys out on the plains.

Author: Rich Lucia