Consultants need to be experts in their field plus relationship management, but also take care of some marketing, sales and administration. Discover more here.
Consultancy exists in many shapes and sizes. But whether you give strategic advice, solve crises, help a company increase its efficiency or propose IT solutions, just about any consultant still has to deal with the same universal challenges.
How do you generate new customers? What do your most loyal customers expect? How do you attain and retain talent in a competitive market? And what is the easiest way to track time?
Four questions in need of solutions. Find out more in this blog!
1. Finding new customers
Consultants are experts in their field, but not marketers or salespeople per se. Yet independent consultants or small to mid-sized agencies will have to reel in new projects frequently in order to stay in business.
After all, consultants are problem solvers by definition, hired to provide help in the relative short term. Once a problem is solved, their mission is just about completed. Say a consultant did a fantastic job for a client, chances are their number will be the first that client dials for a future project. Exactly when that next time will be, however, remains to be seen.
Consultants and agencies that do not want to live in insecurity, therefore need to face the challenge of building a stable, reliable customer portfolio that can provide projects all year round. So finding creative ways of proactively looking for new business becomes a necessity for stability and growth.
"The challenge: building a stable, reliable customer portfolio that can provide new projects all year round."
2. Retaining old customers
“Some consultants claim that they have never lost a client, but that’s a bunch of horse crap,” so says marketing guru and former consultant Neil Patel. He’s right of course: few companies stick with the same agency forever. There are multiple reasons for that.
The first one is mostly economical. If things get to be a little rougher financially, a consultancy contract might be one of the first things that don’t get renewed.
Secondly, some clients have enormous expectations, especially on the executive level, without really thinking ahead. They expect too much in too little time, or don’t quite see the added value of what you can offer them. And if you want to establish long-lasting connections in consulting, that’s precisely what you need to do: clearly show that the return they get from your professional advice outweighs the cost.
Moreover, the consultant-client relationship is very personal and requires frequent maintenance. Whether you work by yourself or in a team, your professional reputation overshadows everything else. Better put: a good sales pitch might win you customers, but your impeccable - and proven! - personal expertise is what keeps them loyal.
"The consultant-client relationship is very personal and requires frequent maintenance."
3. Attracting and retaining new talent
Consultants have a demanding job. They’re on the road a lot, work long days and have to be reachable outside office hours too. The impact on their personal lives is self-explanatory. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that the industry knows a lot of turnover: people either choose to be with their families more or, at the other end of the spectrum, switch employers frequently to advance their careers.
It’s also a pretty competitive business. The European consulting market is expected to grow 4% in 2016 to a whopping $98 billion. And with this gain of momentum comes a growing demand for fresh talent.
That makes consultancy a highly popular career path. To illustrate: 43% of renowned business school INSEAD’s MBA graduates of 2015 took up a consulting job. Although this is good news for the industry, it indirectly promotes job hopping even more.
What does that mean for smaller agencies that want to grow? That it becomes ever more challenging to find and keep talent in a highly competitive market where job offers are plenty. And with every consultant you lose, you run the risk of losing their clients too.
4. The hassle of time tracking
Consultants mostly charge for time, expenses and/or work delivered. Which means that time and expenses need to be registered correctly and projects and tasks dutifully checked off before any invoice can be sent out - and the customer can pay for your services.
However, few consultants enjoy these menial tasks.Their job is analysing situations, starting up projects and sharing their knowledge, certainly not writing up expense reports or filling out time sheets. Rarely are consultants motivated bookkeepers or administrative virtuosos. The fact that some time tracking methods are outdated and hard to use certainly do not help.
Some consultants who work for agencies or smaller firms even distrust time tracking and regard it as an instrument for control. Yet rather than that, time tracking done properly gives consultants a clear view of what exactly they did for whom, plus insights into the inner workings of their business. The customers, in turn, get that bit of transparency that can make all the difference.
The question is: how can consultants track their time easily, efficiently and accurately without getting that Big Brother feeling?
"Tracking time accurately gives consultants a clear view of what exactly they did for whom, plus insights into their business' inner workings."
Face the challenge with Teamleader
Consultants just want to do what they’re good at, without too many worries. Teamleader’s user-friendly, all-in-one solution helps them achieve just that.
Emails, phone calls, meetings and appointments, but also projects, quotations and invoices: all the data you need is centralised and automatically saved with the right contact in the CRM database. You’ll never lose track of a contact’s history anymore, ensuring your relations stay at an all-time high - even on the road! Teamleader also shows you which contacts need attention, so even the most demanding customers stay happy.
Thanks to MailChimp and Campaign Monitor integrations, you can send out and analyse segmented email campaigns that keep your marketing pipeline healthy. Easily digestible statistics make sales forecasting more of a science than a guessing game. And any back-office burden is immediately relieved by invoicing in mere clicks and automatic payment reminders - the type of streamlined administration that saves time and gets your invoices faster!
Teamleader combines CRM with project management, quotations, invoicing and more in one convenient online tool. Try it now for 14 days!