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Management Consulting News

Vol. 5, No. 4
April 4, 2006


Interview: Charles Green

Building Company Trust: Nix the Talking Heads?

Memo to HR Consultants: Why Execs Split

Measuring the ROI of IT

Four Books for Your Wish List

The American Inventor

Coming Attractions

additional items

Making a Market in Talent
, from McKinsey Quarterly

UK Consulting Industry Takes Off, from Top-Consultant

Who Cares about CEO Compensation? Maybe Nobody, from Knowledge @ Wharton

CEOs Suggest Extreme Makeover for Businesses (IBM survey)

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“Shake me up, Judy!” was the trademark expression of the evil, money-grubbing merchant, Mr. Smallweed, in the BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House.

Smallweed’s expression popped into my head when I read Charles Green’s book, Trust-based Selling®. It’s rare for a business book to shake up our ideas, especially one on sales. But Green’s book does just that. He calls his ideas gently provocative, while challenging almost every aspect of conventional selling. If you want a jolt, read his interview, and his book.

In this month’s issue, you’ll also learn what it takes to build a trustworthy consulting practice, why executives leave their jobs, and why measuring the ROI of technology investments is becoming a hot topic in the boardroom. Plus we’ve got reviews of a handful of new books, and more.

Enjoy the issue. And send me an email if you have comments.

Mike McLaughlin
Editor, Management Consulting News

 Interview: Charles Green
Charlie Green

 Trust-based selling is not an

What two words rarely appear in the same sentence? Trust and sales. Charles Green, author of Trust-based Selling®, thinks we can change that—and he will show you how. He also tells us why selling shouldn’t be viewed as a business process, why pricing should be discussed early in the consulting sales cycle, and why elevator speeches should be sent to the basement.

 Building Company Trust: Nix the Talking Heads?

In this month’s interview, Charles Green gives us his view on the essential role of trust in selling professional services. Before you even have an opportunity to meet a prospective client, though, it’s likely that the client has asked and answered the question, “Can we trust this consultant’s company?”

So what factors contribute to passing that initial trust test?

According to the 2006 Edelman Trust Barometer, a global survey of 750 opinion leaders, trust begins with a strong reputation for delivering top-notch products and services and for treating customers fairly. A rep for those two attributes is the foundation for trust.

With so many channels of information, prospective clients are left to sort truth from fiction as they decide which companies are trustworthy. To make those decisions, they rely far more heavily on the opinions of friends, family, and articles in business magazines than they do on declarations made by company executives.

And, in most cases, for prospective clients the credibility of information from friends and family exceeds that of independent industry analysts. In fact, the Edelman Barometer points to the steady increase in the credibility of the “average person.”

So talking heads of any type, whether it’s company CEO’s or industry pundits, may not be the most reliable way to build trust in a company.

The study also notes that the least credible source of information about a company is its blog, even though blogs are a good way to help people learn about a business and its people.

 Memo to HR Consultants: Why Execs Split

When an executive decides to look for greener pastures at another company, it’s common to tempt the individual back to the fold with money and new responsibilities. You may think that throwing money at people is an effective retention tool, but research suggests otherwise.

Researchers at executive search firm Korn/Ferry found that only 5 percent of executives desert their employers because of money. According to execs, what’s more important is a professional challenge, a clear career path, and the behavior of the company’s leadership.

Granted, some executives ignore a company’s shortcomings when a new pay package is dangled in front of them. But this tactic may doom the executive to running in place on the career treadmill, which usually ends badly for all concerned.

Too often, an executive’s career is left to chance. When an opportunity arises, a promising executive is tapped to meet a new challenge. Why and how a specific person was chosen to take on the new role is often shrouded in corporate mystery.

Organizational design and HR consultants can help clients think past the short-term mindset that money solves retention problems. As companies fight the “war for talent,” the most potent weapon is a professionally challenging work environment that offers a clear view of what’s possible for an individual’s career.

For many clients, an overhaul of career management and leadership development strategies is the only way to keep their best people off the treadmill to nowhere.

 Measuring the ROI of IT

For years, executives have searched for cost-effective ways to measure the return on investment (ROI) for information technology (IT) programs. The results have been mixed. With an emerging tug-of-war over IT spending in businesses, look for the ROI of IT debate to surface again.

Results of a recent Accenture study of 300 general managers show that IT spending is expected to grow over the next few years. Only 13 percent of respondents believe IT spending will drop, and 32 percent believe that recent increases in IT spending have been too small to meet corporate needs.

Where’s the money going? New business initiatives, upgrading legacy systems, and adopting new technologies are the top priorities. Investment requests for IT support of new business initiatives will likely sail through the boardroom, leaving the crumbs for creaky, legacy systems.

The challenge for IT executives will be to create a business-driven case for legacy system investments, which is always an uphill battle. Consultants who can help their clients create an approach to understanding and measuring the ROI of IT investments should find a receptive audience.

 Four Books for Your Wish List

Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships (2nd edition), by Ross Dawson

Six years ago, Ross Dawson published a ground-breaking book on the future of professional services. Since then, he’s expanded his thinking on how professional service firms create high value relationships with clients, and this second edition of his book is the result.

Dawson suggests that with a relationship “everything is possible,” which sounds obvious. But Dawson goes on to lay out a relationship management strategy based on knowledge. The book is full of ideas to help any consultant build stronger, more profitable relationships with clients.

Author 101: Bestselling Book Proposals, by Rick Frishman and Robyn Freedman Spizman

If you’ve ever thought about writing a book, you should know that the process starts with a book proposal. It’s easy for consultants to minimize the complexity of that process given that proposals are a tool of the consulting trade.

Make no mistake—a book proposal is different from a consulting proposal and this book shows you how to craft a winning book proposal.

Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars, by Patrick Lencioni

In his latest fable, Lencioni’s protagonist is a management consultant struggling with the kind of turf wars that plague many organizations. Throughout the book, Lencioni develops the concept of the thematic goal as the antidote to corporate infighting.

We interviewed Lencioni for Management Consulting News. Read the interview with Patrick Lencioni.

The Giant of Sales, by Tom Sant

What can we learn about selling from people like John Patterson and Elmer Wheeler? Just about everything, it turns out. In this entertaining walk through the history of selling, Sant gets to the core of what works—and what fails—in selling. He does that by examining how the best salespeople in history practiced their craft.

What’s impressive is how Sant relates the lessons of history to the challenges facing anyone selling products or services today. Apply Sant’s advice and become a giant of sales.

We interviewed Sant for Management Consulting News. Read the interview with Tom Sant.

 The American Inventor

The last thing we need is another reality TV show. I sighed when I recently saw a promotion for American Inventor, which is sort of like American Idol for entrepreneurs. But looking more closely, I noticed that consultant and author Doug Hall is on the panel of judges for the show, so maybe it’s worth a look.

Hall is an entrepreneur himself, and he knows a thing or two about what it takes to launch a successful venture. And I’ve always gotten a kick out of the image of Hall on the cover of his book with a light bulb in his mouth.

We interviewed Doug Hall for Management Consulting News. If you want to read the advice Hall gave consultants, you can read the interview.

 Coming Attractions

Peter Navarro“…the business cycle is one of the single most important determinants of corporate profitability and stock performance.” – Peter Navarro

Peter Navarro is the author of the bestselling investment book, If It’s Raining in Brazil, Buy Starbucks, and The Well-Timed Strategy: Managing the Business Cycle for Competitive Advantage. He is also a business professor at the University of California-Irvine and an expert on the application of understandable macroeconomics.

Tune in next month when we ask Navarro why so many savvy consultants and other business people ignore the business cycle in the strategic planning process.

Look for the next issue of Management Consulting News on May 2, 2006.




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