If you lead a boutique consulting practice, you have four types of competitors:
- Internal resources;
- Other firms and independent consultants;
- Unrelated products or services.
Most of the time (statistics vary from 40 to 60%) you will be competing against inaction. The client didn't hire anyone, and chose to ignore the initiative. The decision was to do nothing and maintain the status quo.
The reason for this is simple: They don't see it as a priority. It is neither important nor urgent. They are unaware of the risks and opportunities you can help them with.
That's why the most effective way to beat inaction is to demonstrate how important and urgent change is. Highlight the opportunity costs - or the so-called RONI - the return on not investing.
As the saying goes, "money talks, bullshit walks":
- What are the costs of ignoring new needs from current clients?
- What are the costs of losing touch with key partners and relationships?
- What are the costs of entering the wrong market or promoting a weak offering?
- What are the costs of having private and sensitive information leaked?
- What are the costs of relying on referrals for new projects?
Put a number into those, and see people start paying attention.
This doesn't mean your marketing messaging and sales conversations should be governed by greed or fear. You can (and should) lead with value and paint a beautiful picture of how your prospect's life will be after your engagement. But don't forget to make them aware of the hidden costs of inaction.
It's not a sales opportunity until your prospects are committed to making a change.