How to Deliver Winning Proposals – Part 9
“Starting with the end in mind” is an excellent approach, but when we engage in client projects we often forget to apply this principle. Maybe it is the client that has her focus on the deliverables and therefore forgets what we ultimately want to achieve with the project. Or maybe it is us that are too obsessed with our own wonderful methodologies and tools.
In reality it really doesn’t matter what we do as long as we deliver the results and leave the client’s organisation capable of repeating the new processes or behaviour.
Methodology and Options
The client and you will agree on the methodology and maybe even the methods to be applied delivering the value agreed upon in the conceptual agreement.
The Wrong Scope
In the beginning of my career as a management consultant I invested time and energy in explaining the methodology that I would apply in great detail. I was methodology focused and was convinced that I was engaged because of my experience and my approaches. My client’s didn’t disagree and we engaged in lengthy discussions on methodology, methods and deliverables before we could even get started on the project. The potential client obviously wanted to know exactly what he would get for the fee I asked.
Although you will always have an idea of how you will approach a problem you can never really foresee what it will really take to fix it until you have dug into the situation. Having methodology and deliverables spelled out in great detail before you start the consulting engagement is counterproductive. You and the client need the highest possible degree of freedom to make changes to the project in order to deliver the value (the scope of the project) as fast as possible.
Thus the section on methodology should be brief and never include any fixed number of activities such as the number of interviews or focus groups. The scope is defined as the value; the methodology and methods are just the means to get there. Delivering the value as fast as possible with the least disturbance as possible is clearly in the client’s best interest.
The Methodology Missionary
There is a constant flow of new methodologies available to consultants and executives. Some consultants become successful because they introduce a new methodology (in a book format) and make it into a best seller. Executives that are always looking for ways to tackle business challenges pick up such methodologies. Consultants who are responding to a demand for methodology based consulting are jumping on the bandwagon.
Over time we have seen armies of Balanced Score Card consultants, Business Process Re-engineering consultants, Blue Ocean Strategy consultants, Crossing the Chasm consultants, SPIN consultants, Solution Selling consultants, NABC consultants, Good to Great Consultants and just recently Business Model Generation consultants.
While all of these new and old methodologies have virtues and benefits, none of them is the ultimate response to all situations. Specializing in a methodology may lead you to suffer from the hammer/nail syndrome. If you only master a hammer any problem will look like a nail.
As an independent management consultant I do not recommend you subscribing to any single methodology. You must invest time and energy in keeping up with the recent trends in strategy and management methodologies, but keep your options open. Add the methodologies to your toolbox and use them as appropriate by delivering measurable value to your clients.
There are many ways to skin a cat and there are many ways of delivering value to a client.
Traditional sales techniques have taught us to always suggest options. Don’t give the potential client only a yes/no option. Give your potential clients several options each of them delivering more value.
Thus, you must define the base line value to be delivered. This is your option 1. Then create 2-5 more options that will deliver value over and above the base line.
Let’s assume that you are working on a proposal for helping a software company enter the UK market. The software company has an indirect Go-to-Market approach working with independent channel partners.
They want you to help them recruit the first three partners in the UK.
You have been through the conceptual agreement phase with the CEO and have determined the expected value of having three resellers in the UK.
During the discussions you have observed that the software company lacks a number of crucial concepts for recruiting resellers. They have no Ideal Partner Profile, they have no Partner Program and they have no format for managing the partners. They also have no organization in the UK to help the partners ramp-up and become successful.
You can include developing the lacking concepts as options in your proposal and you can propose to act as the virtual subsidiary to help the partners get started and win their first customers. You can include awareness creation activities in the UK ensuring that the software company gets on the radar of the UK industry and market. You can include a Market Report and a Market Assessment ensuring that the software company is well aware of the market and industry environment in the UK prior to talking to any of the potential resellers.
All the options will add additional value and increase the probability that the value is converted into results in the future.
Other posts in this series
How to Deliver Winning Proposals – Part 1
How to Deliver Winning Proposals – Part 2
How to Deliver Winning Proposals – Part 3
How to Deliver Winning Proposals – Part 4
How to Deliver Winning Proposals – Part 5
How to Deliver Winning Proposals – Part 6
How to Deliver Winning Proposals – Part 7
How to Deliver Winning Proposals – Part 8
How to Deliver Winning Proposals – Part 10
How to Deliver Winning Proposals – Part 11
How to Deliver Winning Proposals – Part 12