Many management consultancies quickly hit a sales plateau.... and their growth stalls.
They are do great work and their clients are happy to recommend and reuse them.But they've hit a plateau. They are getting as many assignments and referrals as they can from their network. This sustains their business well, but it is not sufficient to generate the extra sales needed to grow further.
Some consultancies do break this growth barrier, but many others don't.
Theystruggle to enlarge their base of clients and contacts. Why, often because they are not successful at breaking into firms where they don't have strong contacts.
Selling to businesses that don't know you is a very different skill to selling to your established network of contacts.
A big part of this is because of the need for management consultants to overcome the catch-22 of selling to business owners and senior executives, namely...
Directors don't want to give up time to be sold to until they are in buying mode.... but when they are in buying mode, they have generally already made up their mind on who to use!
Within you network this works to your favour. Your clients know who you are and they have confidence in your ability to deliver. You are in regular contact with them and know about the challenges their business faces.
But not so with other businesses - the new ones who you need as clients if you are to grow.
A big part of getting important face-time with decision-makers is stepping out of sales mode and grabbing their attention with interesting ideas and insights ("thought leadership" as it is usually called).
Management consultants, with their analytical nature and practical experience of solving business problems are well placed for this... but in fact they often fail, lapsing into brochures and jargon - the sorts of things guaranteed to make a director NOT want to meet you!
Over coming weeks I'll be blogging about how management consultancies can create successful thought leadership quickly and effectively, and then use it to create the sort of senior-level relationships they need to break into new clients.
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Tim Prizeman, Director, Kelso Consulting