Umbrex has developed this list of the best books for consultants on business development based on input from the management consultants in our community, our clients, and other professionals.
This recommended reading list includes books that explore how to conduct client development and find project opportunities for independent consultants.
This list of best books on business development is a work in progress, not a final answer, and we invite you to submit your recommendations on our Contact page.
We also invite you to check out our list of the best podcasts on professional services.
Doug Fletcher and Tom McMakin
The real-world guide to selling your services and winning more client businessFollowing in the tradition of David Maister’s The Trusted Advisor and Ford Harding’s Rain Making, How Clients Buy is the much-needed guide to selling your services. If you’re one of the millions of people whose skills are the ‘product,’ you know that you cannot be successful unless you bring in clients. The problem is, you’re trained to do your job―not sell it. No matter how great you may be at your actual role, you likely feel a bit lost, hesitant, or ‘behind’ when it comes to courting clients, an unfamiliar territory where you’re never quite sure of the line between under- and over-selling. This book comes to the rescue with real, practical advice for selling what you do. You’ll have to unlearn everything you know about sales, but then you’ll learn new skills that will help you make connections, develop rapport, create interest, earn trust, and turn prospects into clients.
Business development is critical to your personal success, and your skills in this area will dictate the course of your career. This invaluable guide gives you a set of real-world best practices that can help you become the rainmaker you want to be.
Working in the consulting and professional services fields comes with difficulties not encountered by those who sell tangible products. Services are often under-valued, and become among the first things to go when budgets get tight. It is now harder than ever to sell professional services, so your game must be on-point if you hope to out-compete the field. How Clients Buy shows you how to level up and start winning the client list of your dreams.Read moreRead less
David H. Maister
International expert and consultant David Maister offers a brilliant and accessible guide to every management issue at play in professional firms.
Professional firms differ from other business enterprises in two distinct ways: first, they provide highly customized services and thus cannot apply many of the management principles developed for product-based industries. Second, professional services are highly personalized, involving the skills of individuals. Such firms must therefore compete not only for clients but also for talented professionals.
Drawing on more than ten years of research and consulting to these unique and creative companies, David Maister explores issues ranging from marketing and business development to multinational strategies, human resources policies to profit improvement, strategic planning to effective leadership. While these issues can be complex, Maister simplifies them by recognizing that “every professional service firm in the world, regardless of size, specific profession, or country of operation, has the same mission statement: outstanding service to clients, satisfying careers for its people, and financial success for its owners.”Read moreRead less
Build a thriving consultancy with the updated edition of this classic bestseller.
Having inspired generations of consultants and entrepreneurs around the world, the “Rock Star of Consulting” Alan Weiss returns with a revised and completely updated edition of his authoritative guide to consulting success.
Weiss provides his time-tested model on creating a flourishing consulting business, while incorporating and focusing on the many dynamic changes in solo and boutique consulting, coaching, and entrepreneurship. In addition to guidance on raising capital, attracting clients, and creating a marketing plan, he also gives brand new step-by-step advice on:
• Harnessing today’s global opportunities
• Developing brands across markets
• Creating and licensing intellectual property
• Avoiding the pitfalls of social media
• Landing unsolicited referrals through counterintuitive methods
• Managing and organizing your time wisely
• Succeeding in the face of continuing turbulence
Find out why this book has been the classic go-to for consultants for nearly twenty-five years, and learn how to grow your business into a $1 million-per-year firm today!Read moreRead less
Evan Polin and Chuck Polin
Years ago, developing and sustaining a book of business was not as big a problem for accountants, attorneys, financial planners, and other professionals as it is today. Clients were more loyal to the firms they worked with, and unlikely to shop services, compare rates, or jump ship.
Times have changed! And without adapting to the change … well, enjoyment of one’s profession and control of their career will become a thing of the past.
Selling Professional Services the Sandler Way is for business professionals that want to enjoy the process of expanding their client base. How? By taking skills mastered throughout one’s career and deploying them in a slightly different way. Even though most accountants, attorneys, financial planners, or other professionals didn’t go into their career to become a salesperson – repurposing current strengths, along with some easy-to-learn new skills, will help to achieve or exceed business and professional goals.
The secrets to grabbing your share of an $800 billion market!
Despite vast changes in the economy since the 2008 financial crisis, the global consulting and outsourcing services markets remain robust and offer substantial growth opportunities. While many companies retrench in the face of chaos, leading management consulting firms and IT service providers are seizing the opportunity to adapt to the new business environment, stay relevant to clients, overcome sales and delivery obstacles, and close new business opportunities.
To that end, Selling Professional Services to the Fortune 500 explains how to get in the door, whom to target, and how to build the right relationships.
An operations and finance executive who has worked with the industry’s top firms, Gary S. Luefschuetz leads you through the process of successfully selling to the world’s biggest companies. He provides expert insight into every element of the sales cycle―from picking your delivery sweet spots to engaging with corporate procurement organizations to understanding the dynamics of the negotiation process.
With Selling Professional Services to the Fortune 500, you have what you need to:
The opportunities in the global consulting and outsourcing services markets have attracted an abundance of new providers, so competition is fiercer than ever. As a result, pricing structures are heavily scrutinized and many services are being viewed as commodities by aggressive corporate procurement organizations. Selling Professional Services to the Fortune 500 helps you price your service offerings accordingly and maintain your competitive edge.
“A recommended read for anyone in line-management or businessdevelopment roles, whether selling to the Fortune 500 or public sector. The book imparts commonsense information presented in a way that is easy to relate to and is useable.”
Lisa Daniels, Vice President, SAIC
“A great play-by-play on how to enter and succeed in the professional services industry. As companies look to improve profits that have been eroded by declining product margins, a move into professional services has been the right answer for many. This book can help you make the move!”
Natalie Buford-Young, President, The Rainfield Group
Written by Neil Rackham, former president and founder of Huthwaite corporation, SPIN Selling is essential reading for anyone involved in selling or managing a sales force. Unquestionably the best documented account of sales success ever collected and the result of the Huthwaite corporation’s massive 12 year, $1 million dollar research into effective sales performance, this groundbreaking resource details the revolutionary SPIN (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need payoff) strategy. In SPIN Selling, Rackham, who has advised leading companies such as IBM and Honeywell delivers the first book to specifically examine selling high value product and services. By following the simple, practical, and easy to apply techniques of SPIN, readers will be able to dramatically increase their sales volume from major accounts. Rackham answers key questions such as “What makes success in major sales” and “Why do techniques like closing work in small sales but fail in larger ones?” You will learn why traditional sales methods which were developed for small consumer sales, just won’t work for large sales and why conventional selling methods are doomed to fail in major sales. Packed with real world examples, illuminating graphics, and informative case studies and backed by hard research data SPIN Selling is the million dollar key to understanding and producing record breaking high end sales performance. Sales Behavior and Sales Success. Obtaining Commitment: Closing the Sale. Customer Needs in the Major Sale. The SPIN Strategy. Giving Benefits in Major Sales. Preventing Objections. Preliminaries: Opening the Call. Turning Theory into Practice.Read moreRead less
David A. Fields
Though it’s a potentially lucrative enterprise, the reality of independent consulting seldom matches the dream. Most solo consultants and boutique consulting firms are perpetually within six months of bankruptcy due to the sputtering unreliability of their new business engines.
The problem, according to international consulting expert David A. Fields, is twofold: 1) lack of a consistent, proven plan, and 2) fundamental misunderstanding about what clients want in a consultant. Fields, who has helped hundreds of consultants and boutique firms worldwide build lucrative, sustainable practices, replaces the typical consultant’s mindset of emphasizing expertise and differentiated processes with a focus on building relationships, engendering trust, and solving clients’ existing problems.
In The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients: Six Steps to Unlimited Clients and Financial Freedom, Fields synthesizes his decades of experience into a step-by-step approach to winning more projects from more clients at higher fees.
From nuts-and-bolts business advice and tactics to a deeply insightful breakdown of the human side of a very human profession, Fields delivers a comprehensive guidebook that is at once highly approachable and satisfyingly detailed.Read moreRead less
Michael W. McLaughlin
An innovative approach to winning more profitable sales in the growing professional services industry.
In recent years, professional services providers have had to rethink their sales methods and adapt to profound changes in the way clients buy services. In response, Winning the Professional Services Sale argues for fundamental changes in the seller’s mindset and sales strategies. Rather than pressing the sale, salespeople must help clients buy–the way that works best for each client. This new approach gives buyers what they now want in a services seller: a consultative problem solver, change agent, and solution integrator, all rolled into one. Author Michael McLaughlin presents a strategy for winning new business with a holistic approach to each client relationship. Only by fully understanding a sale from every angle, including its impact on the client’s business and career, can salespeople thrive in the new era of the service economy.Read moreRead less