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Vol. 10 No. 5 - May 2011

Mike Schultz

Interview: Mike Schultz

Author of Rainmaking Conversations: Influence, Persuade, and Sell in Any Situation.

"The thing clients want to learn more about is typically not your capabilities."

Get our podcast interview with Mike Schultz.

Also in This Month's Issue


Industry News--Quick Takes

Signs of a Bad Client Situation

Blog Round Up

Social Media Marketing's Top Priority in 2011

Book Review: Speaking PowerPoint

Coming Attractions: David Maxfield



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Looking through blogs last month, I came across Consultants Are Pros, While Corporate IT Staff Are Minor Leaguers, by Erik Eckel. Admittedly, the provocative title lured me in.

In the piece, Eckel argues that it’s difficult for corporate IT employees to make the leap to the consulting business because they just don’t have the chops. Really? I read on.

Eckel says:

IT consultants are essentially the equivalent of baseball’s major leaguers, while corporate tech staff members are typically minor league professionals...consultancies too often must slow down and train corporate professionals on simple and basic processes. These are fundamentals that I think it’s fair to claim any big leaguer should have mastered.

Besides the lame use of a sports metaphor and flawed reasoning, what’s really wrong with Eckel’s slap at corporate technologists lies in its not-so-subtle arrogance. The path to consulting oblivion is paved with such arrogance.

If you put yourself above others, which arrogant consultants do, you sabotage any effort to establish communication channels with those who are “beneath” you. Especially in a client environment, effective consultants ratchet up their listening skills, instead of selecting who is worthy of their attention.

Arrogance grows from a self-perceived image of importance. A client may tolerate that in the short term, but, over time, arrogance always wears thin. It won’t be long before an arrogant consultant makes the wrong move in the client environment and winds up looking for a “new opportunity.”

Mostly, arrogance gives all consultants a bad name. Arrogant behavior fuels every negative myth that consultants confront as they serve clients and build their businesses.

I don’t know Eckel or how he practices his craft. I do know that he stumbled as he tried to point out the skills someone needs to succeed in an IT consulting practice. But he gave me an important reminder: If you have a shred of arrogance, check it at the door.

Enjoy this month's issue, and send me an email if you have comments.

Michael W. McLaughlin, Editor
Author of Winning the Professional Services Sale and Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants
Principal, MindShare Consulting LLC

P.S. On a lighter note, if you missed our animated series, (Mis)adventures in Consulting with Stanton Newhouse III, be sure to check it out. The series includes four videos, each about two minutes long.

Stay in touch


Industry News--Quick Takes

CPAs: Half of our clients are still in crisis, in spite of improving business conditions. More than 25 percent of CPA firms are in crisis too, according to AICPA.

Smart people make the worst teams, according to MIT researchers.

Ever wonder just how much content is on the web? Here’s the answer.

Three stages of commoditization for consulting services, according to industry analyst, Fiona Czerniawska.

IBM is jumping into the Business Process Management business. Is any firm not in this market?

So, you want to be a consultant? One person’s lessons learned.

Research report: 75 percent believe IT projects are doomed before starting. Ouch.

ComputerWorld: 7 dirty consultant tricks (and how to avoid them).

Sparking creativity in teams: An executive’s guide, by McKinsey & Company (registration required).

Who’s using all those iPads?

Signs of a Bad Client Situation
From the frying pan into the fire

You know you are in a bad client situation when:

  • You show up for the project kickoff meeting and your client says, “Oh...was that scheduled for today?”
  • Your client still mispronounces your name after your third meeting.
  • The client asks you to match your consulting rates to those in a proposal the client solicited from a Ukrainian programmer on Elance.
  • You have to go through an assistant to an assistant to get on your client sponsor’s calendar.
  • Your client continually tells you, “This project should be so easy for you.”
  • The client starts every status meeting with, “I’m sure I told you about this change...”
  • Your email to the client confirming that day’s final briefing comes back with an automated, out-of-office reply.
  • At the final project meeting, your client says, “Remind me again--why are we here?”
  • The invoice you send to the client comes back to you as “undeliverable.”

Want to add to the list or comment? Click here.

Blog Round Up

In the last month or so, I've written some blog posts that aren’t included in this newsletter. Below are a few links so you can have a look.You can subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed, or sign up to receive bi-weekly updates by email. Just click over to the blog.

The Client Value Dip. In a perfect world, the more value you give to clients, the more you receive. But the value profile of most client relationships isn’t linear--it’s more like a sine wave. The value you get (projects, referrals, compensation, and so on) grows for a while with the value you deliver, and then it dips. Can you avoid the dips?

Getting Projects to “Done”. On any airplane flight, you’re likely to see at least one passenger turning blue in the face trying to force a bulging “carry-on” bag into an overhead bin. No matter how hard the person pushes, it’s not going to work--the bag is just too full. Sometimes, a project plan can unintentionally end up like an overstuffed bag. Before you are tempted to cram too much into your plan, make sure you take into account these three basic realities.

Your Sales Proposal Needs Help: 10 Telltale Signs. If you spot your proposal tucked underneath a table leg in the client’s office, or your client calls and asks when to expect a translation of your proposal, those might be clues. Read the post for more.

Social Media Marketing's Top Priority in 2011

It’s probably not news to you that social media marketing has gone mainstream. It’s no longer an island within marketing, or a platform that only a few companies use well. Still, it’s helpful to know what businesses are planning to do with this expanded set of tools.

In 2011, video is all the rage. I’m guessing you already noticed this, but a study of 3,300 marketers bears it out. The 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report also tells us that marketers are striving to integrate social media marketing into the business, and looking for ways to measure the results of social media marketing programs.

Global CEO Outlook

You can download the forty-one-page report for no charge.

Book Review: Speaking PowerPoint
Speaking PowerPoint

When I started reading Bruce Gabrielle’s book, Speaking PowerPoint: The New Language of Business, I was skeptical. I wasn’t sure I could get through another book about PowerPoint, especially since there are so many good ones out there already.

But Gabrielle’s book grabbed and held my attention--once I understood its purpose: To offer design techniques for presentations targeted at boardroom audiences (decision makers), not ballroom audiences (conference attendees).

That is, the presentation design techniques in the book help the reader build presentations for audiences who will actually use the slides for discussion and decision making. Think final presentations for consulting clients, for example.

Gabrielle calls his approach the Mindworks Presentation Method, and it includes three parts: Story, Slide, and Design. The book emphasizes the logical structure of a persuasive presentation and uses lots of examples to demonstrate the important concepts. Toward the end of the book, I was able to use Gabrielle’s method to diagnose the problems with the example slides included in the book.

In the back of the book, Gabrielle included a Mindworks Presentation Method Manager’s Checklist, which is a handy reference guide to keep nearby as you prepare a presentation.

Many of you are highly experienced, so you’re probably already doing a lot of what Gabrielle suggests. Even so, you’ll learn plenty of new techniques from this book. I know I did. This one’s a keeper.

Coming Attractions: David Maxfield
David Maxfield

" of the biggest barriers to personal success is not one's lack of moxie, chutzpah, or willpower, but the mistaken belief that willpower is the key to change."

Next month, we'll talk with David Maxfield, co-author of the new book, Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, and Influencer. Maxfield is vice president of research at VitalSmarts, a corporate training company focused on delivering significant operational improvements to clients. The team at VitalSmarts also wrote the best-selling books, Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations.

Maxfield and his team studied the science of personal change through their work with over 5,000 people. The result is a comprehensive framework for making--and sustaining--personal change. We'll ask Maxfield what he learned from his extensive research, why change is so hard, and the first step anyone can take toward successful change.

Look for the next issue of Management Consulting News on June 7, 2011.


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