How to Deliver Winning Proposals – Part 11
The proposal is the very last stage of the management consulting sales process. It is the confirmation of what we have already agreed during our discussions with the client. If you make the proposal too early in the sales process then the probability of losing the business will increase substantially. There should be nothing in the proposal that comes as a surprise to the client.
This post is about the seventh section of the proposal: Joint Accountabilities.
The successful outcome of a management consulting assignment does not depend on you alone. It depends on you, on forces that you can control, on forces that you can impact and on forces that you can neither control nor impact.
You may want to read the statement above 10 times. I am sure you will nod and agree. Nevertheless, you will be faced with potential clients who will try to push all the the risk in your direction. When you find yourself in such a situation and cannot move the potential client, then it is time to back away quickly and gracefully.
You must be prepared to warrant the quality of your work, but you can never warrant the final outcome.
Read more about risk mitigation in management consulting assignments here >>What Are the Risks in Management Consulting Assignments?
What is management consulting?
Let’s revisit the definition of management consulting.
The objective of a management consulting assignment is to “improve the client’s condition.” The improvement in the client’s conditions will enable the client to achieve better results after we have left the building.
This is not linguistic finesse. This is fundamental to the potential success of a management consulting assignment for us and for the client. Potential clients expecting you to walk in and make a couple of taps with your magic wand will be utterly disappointed and you will be a failure. It can happen that we can fix issues very fast, but most of the time it takes a lot of effort.
Therefore management consulting is something we do WITH the client and not TO the client.
We work with the client to identify the issues that must be corrected to release the improvement in her performance. We rely on getting information from executives and staff. We rely on the quality and validity of this information. We rely on discussions with executives and staff. We rely on the quality and validity of these discussions.
Therefore we must very carefully spell out the joint accountabilities in the proposal and the agreement governing the management consulting assignment.
These are the typical framework conditions that the client is responsible for:
- Access to people and information
- Appointments with external parties such as the client’s customers, suppliers and service providers
- Responsiveness of the key people in the client’s organization
- Respecting our IP rights
These are the typical framework conditions that the management consultant is responsible for:
- Accepting NDAs and confidentiality requirements
- Fast response to any inquiry (define the exact response time)
- To disrupt the running of the organization as little as possible
- Meet all agreed deadlines and immediately report threats to progress
- Immediately report any issue that may impact on the success of the project
The list above is inspired by the book “Million Dollar Consulting Proposals” by Alan Weiss. Buy it and read it.
To be continued…
Other posts in this series