Business Development In Consulting Is Rooted In Educating Your Audience
Business development in consulting will never be the same anymore.
Why is that? Here are 6 reasons you need to understand.
- Buyers do deep research: buyers of consulting services do their homework before getting in touch. Research says that 70-80% of the decision-making is done BEFORE contacting the consultancy. Buyers have access to an abundance of information that empowers them to navigate most of the buying process independently;
- The social era: we are in the age where buyers discover & evaluate consulting services through their NETWORK: analyst reviews, social media, word of mouth, content platforms, Slack or WhatsApp groups, etc. Consultants that haven’t taken care of their expertise-rich social profile? They are in trouble!
- Expertise & problem research: buyers do research at the level of specific expertise linked to THEIR SPECIFIC PROBLEM, not at the level of your services or the level of your incomprehensible consulting language;
- Increased speed: the Pandemic has increased the speed of the hiring of experts, buyers have little patience, and they have a very short, 3 to max. 12 months horizon (says research);
- B2C behaviors: buyers have developed B2C behaviors: they are looking for easy-to-find educational information, ‘trust stuff’ linked to their problem(s), they want ‘connecting with a click’ (and if you don’t build that ‘easy-to-contact’, your competitor will do);
- Trust significance: due to the growing business complexity (a lot of new pillar topics such as supply chain, cyber security, hybrid work, and many more) and the speed of all these changes, the trust importance has gone up 70% (says research). You won't be at the party without your leading 'trust stuff' (consistently sharing your leading thoughts).
Demand for consulting in organizations has grown and will continue to grow (says research) due to increasing complexity combined with missing internal expertise. But supply has also grown tremendously.
So, the next chapter explains how you can get invited to the buyer's party.
How to get included in the buyer’s homework?
- Lead with expertise. Instead of a service laundry list, you will need to lead with problem-resolution expertise (that’s where the buyer’s research gets done). Read my article about the service delusion in the consulting industry.
- Educate. Your business development will have to be rooted in educating your (laser-sharp defined) audience.
Here’s how you educate your audience
- Nurture consistently. Educate your target audience about their prototypical pain points, consistently nurturing them with cases, successes and struggles from projects, interviews with similar clients, the latest industry trends, new technology opportunities, sharing thoughts and advice from other leading thinkers, etc.;
- Shift your audience’s thinking. Help them bring hidden problems and patterns to the surface and inspire your audience to shift the way they think about their fundamental or underlying challenges. Your audience doesn’t want to hear what they already know about their problems;
- Create a bold and contagious vision. A vision about the transformational potential of switching from ‘old to new’, to a different approach. Translate your expertise into the confidence that you can give to your audience about the positive potential of a transformation, picture them ‘the promised land’;
- Explain risks & opportunities. Make them aware of the risks and the costs of inaction or status quo. With your expertise, you are on the first row to explain risks and opportunities;
- Process clarification. Explain the process of how they can get from ‘old to new’ and how they can do a successful transformation home run.
Recommended reading: Why You Should Share Your Expertise To Grow Your Consulting Business
My final message to you in consulting
Lead your business development with your expert voice. Research confirms that 90% of your audience is prepared to pay more for deep, robust expertise linked to their pressing problems. That's a unique opportunity for all of you to grow your consulting business. What are you waiting for?
Solo consultant, a boutique consultancy, or a big consulting firm? It doesn’t matter. It’s the buyer, stupid.
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Hello, I’m Luk Smeyers, and I’m helping mid-sized consultancies become high-performing consulting firms. I have been in the consulting businesses for more than 20 years, in very different roles: as European CHRO in a global consultancy, as a founder of a mid-sized analytics consultancy, and as a leader in a 'Big 4' consultancy, post-acquisition of my consultancy. I had the privilege of achieving global visibility as a consulting leader, and I never had to sell, persuade, or negotiate as a result. I have now bundled all those experiences, expertise, know-how, research, reading, successes, struggles, and failures from managing and advising consultancies in the past years.