As part of our ongoing research on consulting business model innovation, we're looking closely at value propositions: How do you differentiate your firm? What is the value you are promising to deliver to clients and prospects?
One way to do that is by making it easier for your clients to work with you.
I spoke with several firms that are focusing on convenience to make competition irrelevant. They are helping clients get more value by simplifying the purchase process, project delivery, and post-engagement.
Can you think of how you can apply this idea to your consulting practice?
Earlier this week, a colleague of mine who runs an IT consulting firm said it was "impossible" for them to simplify things. I challenged him on this and asked for 5 minutes to brainstorm friction points. He offered me a beer if I could list more than three.
What happened? Of course, he now owns me a beer.
These are some common friction points I listed:
- Managing information: Clients need to gather the information requested by consultants. Share private, complex, and/or a large amount of data safely. They might also need to go through an infinite back-and-forth email exchange to find time and place to talk to partners.
- Managing the project: Clients need to request from consultants information on what has been done, what the firm is doing now, and what the next steps are. They also need to evaluate progress by keeping track of leading KPIs during the project.
- Managing time: If you use hourly or daily pricing, clients need to confirm the consultants' working hours for billing purposes.
- Managing expenses: Clients often need to deal with expense reports or travel requests, which leads to delays in reimbursement, errors in request amounts, and lost documentation.
All of these friction points happen during the project - if we think about the purchasing process and post-engagement period you can list much more.
Now, it might be the case that your clients don't need to worry about these activities. But no boutique consulting firm is perfect (far from that). Listing friction points and brainstorming ways to eliminate the negative ones is a powerful exercise to strengthen your value proposition.
How can you make it easier for your clients to hire and work with you?