In the world of exceptional consulting less is more. Effective outside consulting, when done right, is a high-impact process that gets great results in short meetings that are efficient for clients. And, it can be delivered in the form of a consulting project, training, or executive coaching
Here are 4 ways that less is more:
1. Lengthy proposals submitted before you have closed an engagement give an air of desperation! Worse, such cart before the horse behavior demonstrates a lack of sensitivity to where the client is in the process. A 2 page proposal-contract is sufficient to clearly outline the basics of the problem you are going to solve for your client. Only send it to a client when you have agreed on terms and scope. The contract lays out those already agreed upon terms to solidify the agreement. Some consultants send along lengthy proposals in order to side step the tough up front questions that are more effectively asked and answered face to face. Don’t be a chicken! Ask the tough questions up front.
2. Lengthy intake forms are unnecessary and counterproductive. Ask three important questions: where they are now, where they want to be after the engagement is concluded, and what results they want to achieve that will make the engagement powerfully valuable to them. Then you will design the path moving forward to clarify the gap between where they are and where they want to be. Other consultants give each and every client the same bulky packet of questionnaires, and top executives can’t stand that. Be efficient. Don’t add to your clients’ workload any more than is absolutely needed. Let your services be part of the solution, rather than an addition to the problem.
3. It is likewise counterproductive to feel you must spend lots of time with your clients in order to justify your fees or value. Executives will pay more if you can get results in less time. An investment banker can raise $5 million for a business with just one or two phone calls. Should she/he be paid by the hour or based on the value he provided by raising those funds? The best consultants apply the same principle to the fees that they charge.
4. The best consultants, advisors and coaches shut up and listen. They let what the client has to say drive the questions they ask. More significantly, they are skilled at finding the one hard-hitting and insightful question that shifts the client’s thinking and gets them moving forward!
Finally, as an example of less is more:
I am an art student (perpetually, in the medium of fiber art). Each time I have a lesson, my teacher finds just one thing for us to work on, even within the larger context of the overall composition. Our work is focused on that one, single aspect of design or technique that will do the most to make my piece exceptional. This week, I was trying to make a certain segment of my artquilt stand out without upsetting the balance of the whole piece. My teacher showed me concepts of style, contrast and texture that I applied in that segment until I got it to absolutely sing. That’s all we did, and it felt great to make that single improvement!
Meanwhile, at the next table, there was another teacher working with a student. In that single lesson he probably talked about the principles of at least 20 different elements. My friend at the next table was lost at the end – after all, who can keep track of all that?
Keep it simple.
To your continued success!