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Consulting Tips

Consulting Tips

As independent consultants, we want to connect with people and influence them in a positive way for the changes we want them to make. The question is, how best to do that? One powerful answer is to use storytelling. Edwina Pike, the creator of “Irrational Change,” has some insightful methods to share on the power of storytelling — and how to use it to help change people’s beliefs and behaviors in a positive way. At a recent virtual event for the…
What does your consulting firm really do? Can you communicate your consulting firm’s mission — who you serve and what you do — to your clients in just one sentence?  If not, you aren’t alone. Summarizing your business in just a few words can be an intimidating task.  Fortunately, consulting expert David A. Fields has created a way for independent consultants to do just that. He calls it your fishing line. What is a fishing line? According to Fields, a…
Pricing is always an important topic for companies, but in these days of high inflation and disrupted supply chains — as well as the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic — it’s become critical. Yet many companies are struggling, not having had to flex their pricing increase muscles for a few years.  “Pricing is a product-centric idea,” says Ian Tidswell, an independent consultant focusing on B2B pricing and the co-founder of Ideal Price. Pricing is usually set depending on how…
Having a solid content strategy brings a number of benefits to independent consultants. Here are the five types of content every consultant needs to utilize. Jake Jorgovan of Content Allies shared these five types of content for consultants in a Webinar for the Umbrex community. Before diving into the five types, he outlined just why content is such an important aspect for independent consultants — and why they avoid it. In his experience, when people think of content as part…
Winning projects is what independent consultants concentrate on most, but sometimes how you wrap up your work with a client is just as important as how you start the conversation, especially if you hope to win client recommendations. Best practices and tried and tested tips were revealed in Episode 287 of the Umbrex Unleashed podcast, featuring David A Fields, consultant and author of The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients. Hosted by Will Bachman, the show finds its jumping off point…
The skill of persuasion is an important one to hone. Here we share some top strategies for building influence and persuasion. The Harvard Business Review did research that revealed the top personal — or soft — skills of successful entrepreneurs. The number one skill was persuasion. “The quality serial entrepreneurs displayed above others was persuasion, or the ability to convince others to change the way they think, believe or behave,” study results stated. “Persuasion for this study was defined as…
There is a difference between being good at what you do, and being recognized for being good at it. But how do you become a recognized expert in your field, and establish your reputation as a thought leader? That was the topic of a recent Umbrex Presents conversation with Dorie Clark, a Wall Street Journal best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker. “We know this is a really noisy and crowded environment,” Clark said of the business marketplace for independent consultants….
David A. Fields shares an irresistible post on communication and how to develop the language your consulting firm uses to improve both relationships and results. You can enhance your consulting firm’s performance and results by reexamining the language you use to understand and communicate your clients’ challenges. A cursory internet search surfaces a plethora of fascinating articles describing how language affects perception. Perhaps the most compelling and commonly cited example is attributed to Jules Davidoff. It suggests that Westerners, who…
David A. Fields shares a consulting checklist that identifies how to elevate your practice.  You run a great consulting firm. You can point to glowing testimonials and clients who stick with your consulting firm like fluffernutter pasted to the roof of a six year-old’s mouth. And while you originally found your consulting firm’s tagline on a pizza box (“You’ve tried the rest, now try the best”), you still believe your team delivers better results and value than the average crew…
David A. Fields offers practical scenarios to get a company foot in the door of a new client.  A small project with a new client could pave the way to a long-term, lucrative relationship with your consulting firm. Alternatively, it could waste your time with a low-margin, low fee engagement. Let’s say your consulting firm has forged a connection with Esther Bunnie, CEO of Cad’s Berries, a multi-national player in the chocolate novelties market.  Cad’s Berries is completely missing the…
David A. Fields explains why some of the most promising opportunities fail to transpire into contracts, and what you can do to ensure a more positive outcome.  Your hard work on business development and some good luck resulted in big opportunities for your seed optimization consulting firm: potential engagements with Worldwide Walnuts, Paramus Pecan Co, and NoNutz.com all at the same time. But, somehow none of those opportunities blossom into closed projects. Why? You may have a “Step 0” problem….
David A. Fields shares a recent post that is designed to help consulting firms identify and address areas that limit growth.  To achieve the next level of success with your consulting firm, you have to know what inflection point is next on your route (or, where you want to stop and optimize). Let’s briefly walk through the common stages on your consulting firm’s growth journey. Transitions are hard. When you think about a typical, personal life journey it’s easy to…
  David A. Fields shares a post that illustrates the value of naming the intellectual property of your consulting business to encourage client buy-in. In today’s world of smartphones, texting, and in-car wifi, the 1970’s CB radio craze hovers somewhere between quaint and weird. Yet, one aspect of that short-lived fad will help your consulting firm win more clients and, importantly, deliver higher perceived value to your current clients. In the parlance of CB radio fanatics, your handle was your…
  David A. Fields shares a post designed to help the independent consultant accelerate revenue growth. If you’re having trouble accelerating your consulting firm’s revenue growth, it could be because you’ve forgotten to create a stable revenue base. “Bread and Butter” work (outlined in this classic article) is the most common and straightforward path to establish a solid, bedrock of revenue for your consulting firm. However, you have another interesting option: Your consulting firm houses a treasure trove of assets,…
  David A. Fields shares three ways consultants can expand their market. Bonus information and insights in the comments section. There’s a rich, hidden vein of project opportunities for your consulting firm—projects that your consulting firm may not have been in the running to receive. With the proper outlook and actions, you can reveal and win them. Usage of certain consumer products such as toothpaste and toilet paper are fairly constant—you’re unlikely to persuade consumers to use more of them…
  David A. Fields shares a few valuable tips on consulting fee structures. Consulting engagements come in many flavors. Your consulting firm’s work for a client could range from answering questions in real time based on your knowledge and experience, to developing research-based recommendations, to constructing and implementing complex solutions. Where does advisory work fit in, and should you construct contracts for advisory work differently? Let’s say Mabel Maybell, CEO of the famous Home o’ Phonics literacy company (a.k.a. HoP),…
  Nora Ghaoui shares the top three ways she built her business as a solo consultant during the difficult year of 2020.   Building a consulting pipeline is tough in any year. In 2020, the uncertainty caused by the pandemic made companies cautious, so it was harder to get projects agreed and started.  I tried out different actions to build my project pipeline, and some worked better than others. Here are the top 3 things that made a difference to building…
  David A. Fields shares a blog post on the omnipotent power of gratitude and how it can serve your consulting practice. Extra bonus tips included in the comments.  At this time of year, one word is bandied about with unusual frequency. It turns out that word can help you win more consulting business. Each Friday I pause to consider everything I have to be grateful for. Family, friends, a thriving business, homemade banana-chocolate cream pie. Some wise folks do…
  If you are looking for ways and means to improve client attraction, spend, and retention, read on. David A. Fields provides practical steps and innovative approaches to improving your firm’s offerings. If your consulting firm’s offerings aren’t generating gleaming stacks of revenue, it’s time to develop a Level 3 Offering. You’re not alone if the projects that sustained your consulting business in the past have recently become difficult to close. Prospective clients are confused about how to please their…
  Do you find yourself stressed about your consulting firm? David A. Fields provides the advice you need to adopt a healthy approach to business to ensure long-term productivity and prosperity.  These days, maintaining physical distance preserves your health and protects those around you. News Flash: Mental and emotional distance between you and your business bolsters your health, happiness, and the success of your consulting firm. All entrepreneurs tangle themselves in their businesses. As a consulting firm leader, this issue…
  David Fields explains how to maximize the benefits of video conferencing by encouraging clients to give a testimonial. He provides five stellar tips, including questions to ask to ensure you make the most of the moment.  Your consulting firm’s prospects and clients are settling into the video call format. Other than the relationship-building advantages of video, has this newly-accepted communication medium ushered in any valuable opportunities for your consulting firm? You betcha. Video testimonials are where it’s at. Any…
  As more consultants rely on video conferencing to connect with clients, David A. Fields shares timely, tractable, and tongue-in-cheek tips on how to avoid common mistakes that are all too often made.  Are there video call-specific rules of etiquette? Of course. Remember the old days, when people left their houses? Consultants would frequently travel thousands of miles, sardined next to strangers (crazy, right?). Even then, your consulting firm’s best, everyday outreach tool was your telephone. However, in the modern,…
  Jason George explains with delightful simplicity how the formula used by Dr. Seuss to tell a story is a good example to follow for presentations. The distillation of the core idea to ensure comprehensive understanding that opens the door to deeper exploration. Author Theodor Geisel was dealing with some tough constraints. The audience for his next book required an instantly captivating story with a clear narrative arc, but there was a catch: they could only process a limited set…
  David A. Fields provides expert advice on how to manage customers during a crisis.  What do you do when your well-intended outreach call crashes into a brick wall of negativity? Like many consulting firm leaders, you may have been burning up the phone lines the past week or two, reaching out to your clients and other contacts. Your motives are pure—admirable even. You’re checking in, showing support during a difficult time and offering help. By and large, your efforts…
  David A. Fields offers an encouraging post on how to manage your ego when clients don’t respond to your overtures. With a sigh and subtle shake of your head, you send one more outreach email to Pippi Burntkernels, the co-founder and COO of Plumper Popcorn, Inc. A few months ago, you and Pip had a great conversation about their operations, and you gave some advice on effectively instituting a better butter beater process. You know that if you and…
  In this timely post, David A. Fields provides ten strategies consulting firms can implement to help navigate through difficult times.  You’re swimming in a vast sea of stressful news and, given today’s reality, you’re well within your rights to feel anxious, nervous and uncertain about how your consulting firm should proceed. Clients are shutting down their operations; workshops and meetings are being called off; in fact, the entire economy appears to be headed for an abrupt, if temporary, halt….
  David A. Fields offers a valuable resource for consulting firms in this series of articles that provide a comprehensive guide to marketing tactics.  Your Challenge: Can you come up with even one tactic that’s not on the list below? (Bonus points if you post two or more tactics.) Have you ever wanted to co-write an article because writing your own stuff is hard and takes time? Woo hoo, here’s your chance! In the next part of this two-article series,…
  Pitching all the reasons why your company, service, or product is better is often received with a lack of response. David A. Fields explains where the miscommunication lies and provides a solution to the problem.    You know a rain barrel full of reasons why your consulting firm is better than other firms that do what you do. Among the reasons, of course, is you. Your experience and ideas and unique perspective. Hence, when Bethany Buttonwerk asked you why…
David A. Fields’ first blog of the year provides a pathway forward for consulting firms in 2020. It’s the first week of the year and one thing you’re probably wondering is what you and your consulting firm should do first. Right now. Your consulting prospects are asking the same question. What should they do now? What should their priority be?  Unfortunately, their list could be topped with challenges that your consulting firm doesn’t solve—penetrating the blacklight market, designing an office…
David A. Fields explains why correct assumptions can quickly become wrong, and how to test the assumptions of your consulting practice to create new opportunities. You throw your best efforts into delivering value for your consulting clients, improving your consulting firm’s marketing, and creating a rewarding consulting environment. Then you find your work was off by a bit. Or more than a bit. Or completely wrong. Pickles-in-peanut-butter wrong. That’s no fun. Alas, I have bad news for you and me: we’re mistaken….
David A. Fields provides an eight-week plan for an effective strategic planning process that will engage and enthuse your team of consultants for the year ahead. If you develop an annual plan for your consulting firm, there’s a decent chance you sit down with your senior team and/or advisors for a day or two to hammer out your objectives, strategies and tactics. (If you don’t engage in any strategic planning for your consulting firm then, as the old saying goes,…