Independent Consulting: The 15 Critical Success Factors
The 15 Critical Success Factors
Appleton Greene’s International Consultancy Office has facilitated the implementation of thousands of successful consulting services during the past 25 years. This includes consulting services that focus upon: Customer Service; E-Business; Finance; Globalization; Human Resources; Information Technology; Legal; Management; Marketing and Production. It also includes services that have been implemented within: the United States of America; Europe; Switzerland; Canada; Middle East; Africa; India; Pakistan; China; Japan; Far East; Australasia and South America. Appleton Greene has clients, learning providers, program directors and accredited consultants within most major industry sectors and cities worldwide.
So, what does Appleton Greene consider to be the 15 Critical Success Factors (CSF) for Independent Consultants?
Create a tangible and coherent Consulting Service Process (CSP)
The main difference between an employee and a consultant, is that the former sells themselves, whereas the latter sells a service. As an employee, a decision will be made based upon your Resume or CV. As a consultant, a decision will be made based upon the service that you provide. A good consulting service should be specific, well planned and easy to understand. The best consulting services are always process-driven and ultimately enable clients to do things for themselves. This task is easier than you might think. A tangible and coherent Consulting Service Process (CSP), can usually be identified within 10 minutes, during a telephone interview with an authorized Appleton Greene Client Service Manager. CLICK HERE to arrange a Telephone Interview.
Establish a strong Unique Consulting Service Proposition (UCSP)
This does not mean that your service needs to be better than anyone else’s, there just needs to be sufficient differentiation. Ideally, a consulting service should be based upon an individual consultant’s own core skills, experience and strengths and given the fact that we are all individuals, then establishing a Unique Consulting Service Proposition (UCSP) should not be a difficult task. The fact remains that we are all different people and we all do things differently. You therefore just need to recognize what that difference is in your case and then package it in such a way that clients will recognize it as a tangible service. Remember, clients employ specialists, not generalists, so the more specific that you can be the better. CLICK HERE to see some examples.
How to earn up to USD$250k as an independent consultant
Your pricing structure should always be determined by two factors: profitability and market demand. The former refers to your own consulting practice, that is to say, your pricing structure needs to allow your consulting practice to be viable. If you are not earning between USD$100k and USD$250k as an independent consultant, then there is something wrong with your pricing structure. The latter refers to what your clients are prepared to pay and can afford to pay. Some consultants charge by the hour, in which case clients will always measure value based upon just how productive they feel that time was. The problem with this is that consultants will always feel the need to constantly pull rabbits out of hats, in order to justify their existence. Your pricing structure should therefore be based upon the services that you provide. This will enable clients to measure your performance based upon the perceived value of your service, which is how it should be. Please visit: CLICK HERE and select the Bronze Client Service, the Silver Client Service, the Gold Client Service and the Platinum Client Service, to see some examples of pricing structures.
Develop a professional Client Information Guide (CIG)
The main mistake which the majority of independent consultants make, is not taking the time to develop their consulting service Client Information Guide (CIG) properly, or in other words, their Client Proposal, or Service Brochure. Appleton Greene has experienced Professional Editors who can help you with this. Clients will need to understand what your service is and how it works, if they are going to employ you as a consultant. Your (CIG) therefore represents an opportunity for you to provide your prospective clients with as much information about your service as you can. They will then be able to determine for themselves whether your Unique Consulting Service Proposition (UCSP) will ultimately satisfy their Key Corporate Objectives (KCO). Your (CIG) should demonstrate the value of your service and should enable your prospective clients to place a service order with you. All client decisions will ultimately be based upon the quality of your (CIG), so without this, you will not achieve anything. CLICK HERE to see an example of a Client Information Guide (CIG).
Establish a strong corporate and consulting service brand image
A strong consulting service brand will take time for you to establish, but you can achieve a strong corporate brand instantly, simply by registering as an Accredited Associate, Executive, or Senior Consultant at Appleton Greene. There are currently 500,000+ client contacts within the Appleton Greene global client network and Appleton Greene services some 750+ Certified Learning Providers (CLP) and 500+ Accredited Consultants. Indeed Appleton Greene has clients, learning providers and consultants within most major industries and within most major cities worldwide. A strong consulting service brand will usually be established within 12 months, once you have had an opportunity to establish your own client base and have your own consulting service reviews and testimonials.
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Create a specific target market by matching (UCSP) with (KCO)
A common mistake is for consultants to try to target as many industry sectors and geographical locations as they can, with the view that they will somehow generate more opportunities this way. In fact the reverse is true. The more specific your target market, the easier it will be for the right companies to be able to identify with your consulting service. For example, a company within the Healthcare industry, would understandably prefer a consulting service, which specializes within their own industry sector. Similarly, a company located within Geneva (CH), would understandably prefer a consultant who has commercial experience within their location and who understands their local language and culture. The simple objective here is to match your Unique Consulting Service Proposition (UCSP) with your prospective clients’ Key Corporate Objectives (KCO). One of the major strengths of Appleton Greene, is that we enable clients to identify the right consultants for their specific requirements, quickly and efficiently. Therefore, be as specific as possible with your chosen target market. CLICK HERE to see some examples.
With pandemic prevention measures now limiting most traditional B2B marketing channels, Appleton Greene is well placed to help businesses replace the lead deficit and maintain pipeline stability. Appleton Greene’s Client Prospecting Service (CPS) offers Clients, Learning Providers and Consultants certifiably superior performance over every practical alternative. Unrivaled ease of deployment, near instant results and hard to believe fees. We target the companies that you want to target, within your chosen industries and locations. The unique proposition with this service is that we actually identify 1,000 potential client companies and the appropriate Key Decision Makers (KDM) through their web sites or professional profiles. You then have the opportunity to peruse through this list and remove any company that you would not want to target. We then reach out to them by introducing ourselves internally, encouraging a friendly two-way conversation, which will then be ongoing and until interest is established. It is a credible white-hat digital marketing service, which is direct, establishes credibility and nurtures interest. We then put these leads into 3 categories: Positive Response; Deferred Interest and Polite Decline. Positive Responses will have indicated that they are ready to arrange a telephone appointment to discuss the program or service with the Learning Provider or Consultant now. Deferred Interests will have expressed an interest in the program or service and will have asked us to contact them again within 30 days. Polite Declines will have decided not to proceed at this time.
Our direct B2B prospecting pack is tailored to your exact requirements.
We’ll find 1,000 potential customers for you. We’ll identify them, qualify them and engage with them to discuss your program or service.
Our experts target, research and engage prospects on your behalf. Prospects are engaged on a 1-to-1 basis with personalized, conversational introductions, designed to flow naturally into your client pipeline. It is reliable, budget friendly and scalable. Here is our average pipeline of success with clients, learning providers and consultants during the last 5 years:
Prospects engaged per month: 1,000
Responses 15%: 150
Leads 3.8%: 38
Appointments 1.2%: 12
Clients converted 0.3%: 3
How We Do It
Looking for a reliable source of qualified client leads, look no further. We prospect the ideal clients and the Key Decision Makers (KDM) on your behalf. You get replies from people who are interested in your program or service, flying into your inbox. Here is how we work our magic. First we define your ideal prospect. From that, a suitable list of contacts is built. Expert copywriters draft one-to-one communications that sing. Then we are off, 50-100 prospects contacted every day. Right from the start, you can expect to see replies pinging into your inbox. Appleton Greene will provide you with your own Appleton Greene email address, such as email@example.com . That is when you pick up the conversation. You simply reply to their email, in order to arrange a mutually convenient telephone appointment. Then you have the opportunity to discuss your client’s needs and then explain just how your program or service can satisfy those needs. If a prospect does not reply, then we send the perfect chaser at just the right time. There you have it. The Client Prospecting Service (CPS) department, the prospecting guardians of Appleton Greene.
Prospecting Performance Portal (PPP)
You will have access to your own Appleton Greene Prospecting Performance Portal (PPP), enabling you to follow the success of your campaign in real time, the results of which are updated daily. You will be able to see precisely what communications have taken place and when, what email replies have been received, both positive and negative. You will be able to use the portal to review the prospects being contacted and to eliminate any that you do not deem to be appropriate. You will be able to see precisely how many communications have been engaged, delivered, opened and clicked and how many responses and leads have been received. You will also be able to monitor the performance of your campaigns by using the delivery rate and lead rate Prospectometers, all within one easy-to-use portal, which will be dedicated to your own personal campaigns.
You will also be allocated your own Marketing Campaign Manager (MCM), who will be facilitating your campaigns on your behalf and you can communicate with them directly through your Client Support Portal (CSP).
Cost & Payment Terms
The Client Prospecting Service (CPS) costs $5,000.00 for one campaign, Each campaign incorporates 1,000 prospects, resulting in between 15-30 leads and approximately 12 appointments. Each campaign is usually implemented over a period of 3 months. You would need to pay 50% of the service fee, that is to say $2,500.00, when you place your order, for us to be able to reserve your campaign position for you. The remaining 50% balance of your service fee, i.e. $2,500.00, would then be due for payment 30 days prior to your preferred campaign start date.
You can book as many campaigns as you like, subject of course to ongoing availability, during the months of January, April, July & October. You can expect to achieve between 15-30 leads or approximately 12 appointments with each individual campaign. These will be prospective clients who have expressed an interest in your program or service, from your chosen industry sectors and geographical locations during each 3 month campaign. On average, we are converting 3 client contracts from each campaign each paying either $1.5k/mo; $3k/mo; $4.5k/mo, or $6k/mo for Accredited Senior Consultants (ASC), with a minimum contract period of 12 months, that is to say between $18k/yr and $72k/yr. Not a bad return on investment. Obviously performance will vary considerably because each and every program and service will be different, but these are average performance results after taking into consideration all campaigns, so you could do more or less than this.
Return on Investment
Clients, Learning Providers and Consultants are currently converting an average of 20% of their 15-30 prospect leads into new business, that is to say 3 client contracts from each campaign, but let us be pessimistic and say, worst case scenario, that you only manage to convert 1 of the 15-30 leads into new business and with the smallest service option, the Bronze Client Service. That would still provide you with $1,500.00/mo or $18,000.00/yr and would constitute a very satisfying 360% return on investment. Additional campaigns can then be funded from the proceeds of your first campaigns and then it would just be a matter of scaling up at a pace that you feel comfortable with. The Client Prospecting Service (CPS) has a proven track record of success, even during the pandemic and provides a significant return on investment and value-for-money.
Given the continued uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and whether new waves are likely during the winter months, we would highly recommend that you book at least 1 Client Prospect Service (CPS) campaign if you are able to do so, because unlike traditional marketing campaigns, this service has proven to be resilient and successful during the pandemic.
Professional Email Marketing Campaigns (PEMC)
Once you have developed an outline plan for your proposed consulting service in the form of your Client Information Guide Z(CIG), the next priority is to ensure that the right people get to see it.
As an integral part of the Accredited Consultant Service (ACS), service links to your Client Information Guide (CIG) will be provided within general news and information emails that are regularly distributed to 500,000 + contacts within the Appleton Greene global client network and this will certainly help to create awareness and to establish credibility for you over a sustainable period of time, which will commence once your Client Information Guide (CIG) has been approved and published by Appleton Greene. However, these communications are understandably not exclusive to you or your corporate training program and are not exclusive to your preferred industry sectors or geographical locations.
If you would like to be more proactive about getting your Client Information Guide (CIG)) in front of the right Key Decision Makers (KDM), within companies where your service will constitute a Key Corporate Objective (KCO) for them, then we would recommend that you should undertake at least one clearly targeted Professional Email Marketing Campaign (PEMC) annually. This would exclusively promote your own consulting service and Client Information Guide (CIG), directly to Key Decision Makers (KDM) within the specific industry sectors and geographical locations that you yourself have chosen.
Why Email Marketing?
Emails are still the No 1 choice for business-to-business and business-to-consumer communications for professional service providers. The majority of people have access to their computers at some point during the day. Those who do not, access their email accounts through their mobile devices. Email is still the most popular way to communicate and that is why, as a professional business service provider, email marketing should always be an integral part of your marketing strategy. Emails enable us to feature more content, they can be saved on file, they can be read several times over, they can refer to more detailed information on your web site and they can incorporate a clear call to action. Email marketing still represents the most cost effective and secure means of communication, the most instant and the most user-friendly. Email marketing is also the easiest marketing strategy to measure performance with. We can now provide detailed statistics relating to precisely how many emails are being received and opened, how many users are using links within the email to visit your web site, what pages they are visiting, how many times and most importantly, who they are. The Professional Email Marketing Campaign (PEMC) service also has a proven return on investment, achieved over a sustainable period of 25 years. It also still remains the most cost-effective means of advertising for professional service providers and should be entirely self-financing after your first campaign.
Some interesting facts
1. In 2020, the worldwide market for email marketing stood at US$4.51 bn. Expanding at a healthy CAGR of 19.60% between 2020 and 2025, this market is likely to touch US$22.16bn by the end of 2025. This constitutes major global growth.
2. There will be more than 3.7 billion email users worldwide by the end of the year 2021. That means that nearly 54% of the entire planet is using email.
3. Approximately 85% of all emails reach the recipients’ inboxes.
4. 68% of all new business for professional service providers, is developed through email marketing.
5. 83% of repeat business from existing customers, is developed through email marketing.
Appleton Greene Professional Email Marketing Campaigns (PEMC)
Appleton Greene manages some 8,400 Professional Email Marketing Campaigns (PEMC) annually, on behalf of clients, consultants, learning providers, accountants, and lawyers, 80% of which are repeat orders and Appleton Greene has provided these services for 25 years. This should really tell you everything that you need to know about why Appleton Greene Professional Email Marketing Campaigns (PEMC), should represent an integral part of your own marketing strategy. Professional service providers include: Consultants; Accountants; Lawyers; Learning Providers.
Questions for you to answer
1. Do you already have a successful email marketing strategy in operation?
2. Is 68% of your new business being achieved through email marketing?
If the answer to either of these questions is NO, then you really do need to talk with Appleton Greene.
Proactive direct marketing
If you would like to be more proactive about getting your professional business services in front of the right Key Decision Makers (KDM), within companies where your service will constitute a Key Corporate Objective (KCO) for them, then we would recommend that you should undertake at least one Appleton Greene Professional Email Marketing Campaign (PEMC) annually. This would exclusively promote your own professional business services, directly to Key Decision Makers (KDM) within the specific industry sectors and geographical locations that you yourself have chosen. Each Professional Email Marketing Campaign (PEMC) costs from $2,500.00 to $10,000.00 annually and includes: the acquisition of between 2,500 & 10,000 new company business contacts; 12 monthly email marketing campaigns, incorporating between 30,000 & 120,000 emails; a professional campaign management service, your own campaign manager and a proven return on investment.
Return on investment
A typical campaign results in an average return of (1%) information requests being generated and (0.25%) client service orders being received. Given the average professional business service fee of $5,750.00, charged by our clients and using the Gold Service as an example, this therefore represents $109,250.00 in new business revenue and a staggering 1,456% return on investment, for each campaign. The cost of your Professional Email Marketing Campaigns (PEMC) should therefore be entirely self-financing after your first campaign and you can then scale-up the quantity and size of the campaigns that you will require, in order to achieve your new business revenue targets.
For more detailed information about Professional Email Marketing Campaigns (PEMC), please: CLICK HERE
Executive Summary Video
Appleton Greene also partners with Google in order to achieve new business over the internet. Google is the undisputed No.1 internet search engine, indeed an estimated 80% of online searches are undertaken through Google and it is therefore no surprise to see that 80% of new business, that is developed online, is therefore derived through their Google AdWords service. Google has been a valuable online partner for Appleton Greene for 12 years now and their AdWords campaigns are currently contributing to over 50% of new business that is developed for Certified Learning Providers (CLP), once they are qualified and when their corporate training programs are advertised internationally through Appleton Greene. Google’s AdWords service has been modified and improved considerably during that time and Appleton Greene has gained valuable experience in how to maximize the return-on-investment with these campaigns. Indeed the majority of Appleton Greene’s clients also use Google AdWords for their own new online business requirements and from our own research, Google AdWords regularly contributes between 50%-80% of new online customers for our clients’ companies as well. With such a high market share of the new business development market online, Google AdWords should be an integral part of any proactive business development strategy, for companies and consulting practices.
The Google AdWords service is now also available to Certified Learning Providers (CLP), once their Unique Program Proposition (UPP) Client Information Hub (CIH) has been approved and published by Appleton Greene. As with all Appleton Greene services, the Google AdWords service is entirely optional, but if used properly, the service will contribute at least 50% of a Certified Learning Provider’s (CLP) new business online and is directly targeted towards clients who are specifically looking for your Unique Consulting Program Proposition (UPP).
How It Works
The general idea is to make it easy for any potential clients who are actively looking for your Unique Program Proposition (UPP), to be able to find it. For example, if you typed “Appleton Greene & Co” into Google Search, followed by your “Program Title”, you will probably find that a link to your Client Information Hub (CIH) already appears on the first page of Google Search. This is because your Client Information Hub (CIH) is regularly submitted to search engines and Pingler by Appleton Greene in order to ensure that it is visible online. However, if you were just to initiate a search on Google for your “Program Title” alone, then a link to your Client Information Hub (CIH) will probably not be visible. This is because of the quantity of competition online. You may however notice some links that are marked in bold or are marked “Ad” by Google, that are located either towards the top of the page, or separately on the right-hand side of the page. These are companies or individuals who have paid for the privilege of having their link on the front page for a particular search. It is widely assumed that customers will only search on the first 2 pages before conducting another search, so Google AdWords ensures that your listing is featured prominently on the first page.
Google charges its AdWords customers on a Pay Per Click (PPC) basis. This means that customers are charged whenever someone clicks on their advert link. Google explains that customers only pay for results, that is to say, you only pay if someone clicks on your Advert. This does not of course guarantee that the person who clicks on your advert will do business with you, but it does at least guarantee that they have visited your Client Information Hub (CIH). So, Google AdWords is all about directing internet traffic to your Client Information Hub (CIH) and as with any marketing campaign, the more shots at goal that you have, the more goals likely to be scored. Google also explains that you can start with any budget: “You set your own budget, so your costs will depend on what you are trying to accomplish with your advertising. Some businesses spend tens of thousands of dollars a month, and others are comfortable investing several hundred.” In fact the way that it works, is that your Google Ad will only remain visible until such a time as your budget has been reached, then it disappears. Also, if someone is bidding more for the same search words, then their Google Ads will be featured more prominently and more often. We have clients that regularly spend millions of dollars each and every month on Google AdWords. However, in our experience, a company or individual can achieve regular business, starting with a minimum budget of say USD$1k per month, and can then scale up their AdWords budget as a percentage of sales, to ensure that their campaigns are self-financing moving forwards. Google AdWords does work and it works well. However, as with any form of marketing, including Email Marketing Campaigns (EMC), success will ultimately be achieved by implementing marketing campaigns over a sustainable period of time, usually 12 months, in order to establish a consistent brand reputation with your customers.
Appleton Greene’s Google AdWords Service
Where Appleton Greene has already achieved success with Certified Learning Providers (CLP), is instead of creating a Google Ad that just provides a link to one corporate training program, it creates a separate web page, or splash page, which provides a list of approximately 12 participating corporate training programs. The cost of the Google Advert remains the same, because customers are still only being directed by a URL link to one web page, but that web page will incorporate a list of corporate training programs, including their program titles and links to their individual information hubs. Hence the cost of the advertising is shared by a participating group of Certified Learning Providers (CLP), who are then each only charged a one-off payment of USD$1.5k for a 12 month campaign. This means that they collectively have the mutual benefit of implementing a 12 month Google AdWords campaign, for just over 10% of the usual cost! All of the participating program titles are featured within the Google AdWords campaign, which means that if a potential customer searches for an individual program title, it would still be featured and of course these campaigns are all managed proactively. Certified Learning Providers (CLP) each earn a minimum of USD$300k annually and spend approximately 5% of their residual income on Appleton Greene Google AdWords campaigns. This in turn contributes to approximately 50% of their new business with corporate training program sales, which represents a massive 1,000% return on investment.
The Appleton Greene Google AdWords service only requires a one-off payment of USD$1,500.00 for a service that is implemented over a sustainable period of time (12 months) and has already been tried and tested. This means that any potential client who is actively looking and searching for your Unique Program Proposition (UPP) via Google, at any time during this 12 month period, will have an opportunity to review your Client Information Hub (CIH). We understand that many learning providers have multiple corporate training programs and Client Information Hubs (CIH) to offer clients and as such any service order of 5 Appleton Greene Google AdWords campaigns will incorporate a discount of 25%, thus reducing the cost of each individual Appleton Greene Google AdWords campaign to only USD$1,125.00. The same discount may be achieved by participating in 5 separate Appleton Greene Google AdWords campaigns with just one corporate training program and Client Information Hub (CIH). As with all Appleton Greene services, Google AdWords campaign positions are available on a quarterly basis, during the months of January, April, July and October and are subject to ongoing availability. Please check current availability with your Program Administration Manager.
Success with any online marketing campaign is ultimately determined by directing as much internet traffic as possible, to what it is that you have to offer. Google AdWords campaigns certainly achieve this. Your Client Information Hub (CIH) provides potential clients with professional and detailed information about your corporate training program, the means to arrange a telephone conference with you and ultimately a direct link to a program order form, making it easy for potential clients to place program orders directly with you. The objective now is to ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to see this. If you would like to discuss the Appleton Greene Google AdWords service in more detail, then please forward an email to the Certified Learning Provider (CLP) Program Administration Manager and they will gladly arrange a mutually convenient telephone appointment for you with your Program Professor.
Ensure that you have a Service Order Processing (SOP) strategy
So how do I, as a client, place a service order with you and what are the terms and conditions associated with your service? If a client has to ask this question, you probably won’t receive many service orders! We are all used to quick and easy ways to place orders. The internet has provided us with time-efficient ways to place an order and to pay online, simply by pressing a button and we are all used to this. Our research has shown that clients also feel much more comfortable reviewing contracts that are available online. Everything should now be automated. It is not sufficient to have a web site which requires interested parties to complete a contact form. This does not constitute a proactive call to action. A client needs to be able to review your service description and terms and conditions online now. You should also provide with them with at least three service order options to choose from, so that they can select an option which suits their requirements and which they feel comfortable with. Please visit: CLICK HERE and select the Bronze Client Service, the Silver Client Service, the Gold Client Service and the Platinum Client Service, to see some examples of consulting service options, service order forms and terms and conditions of service, all of which can be processed quickly and efficiently.
Ensure that you have a professional support structure in place
As an independent consultant, you are going to need plenty of professional support and assistance. You need to have the confidence that your work will be up to the standard required and expected by your clients. You will need advice concerning matters where you do not have personal experience. You will need to obtain constructive feedback to enable you to continuously improve your consulting service offering. You will need to have confidence that you have a professional organization behind you. There are 20+ dedicated Appleton Greene employees within the Accredited Consulting Service (ACS) department and these include professional content editors, client account managers, consulting service support managers and service providers who specialize in customer service, e-business, finance, globalization, human resources, technology, legal, management, marketing and production. All communications and support are managed online, either via email or through the Appleton Greene cloud servers and this enables all parties to retain copies of communications for future reference, in accordance with our quality management procedures here at Appleton Greene. All communications are filtered through one dedicated (ACS) Administration Manager, who will then forward support requests onto the most relevant person, depending upon the subject matter of each query. You will therefore have access to a well trained team of professional support staff at Appleton Greene.
Implement a viable consulting practice business model
Your consulting practice business model includes the strategies that you will use for implementing all of the 15 Critical Success Factors (CSF) that are listed here within this page. This includes your strategies for: Service Process; Service Innovation; Pricing Structure; Service Information; Brand Image; Target Market; Direct Marketing; Knowledge Sharing; Service Orders; Professional Support; Business Model; Time Management; Practice Sustainability; Client Testimonials and The Next Step in your consulting business expansion. If you do not already have a viable consulting practice business model, then you will need to adopt one quickly, one that appeals to the way in which you would personally like to operate as a consultant. Your business model needs to allow you the freedom to focus upon your strengths and should compensate for your weaknesses. This will enable you to make the most of your potential opportunities and to minimize the effect of any potential threats. CLICK HERE for more details about the Appleton Greene Accredited Consulting Service (ACS) business model.
Time Management: Service Delivery vs Business Development
Too many independent consultants complain that they spend too much time developing business and not enough time doing business. The issue here is that you are only earning money during the time that you are delivering the service. This is never more apparent than with consultants who consult on a project-by-project basis. While they are working on a project, they do not have the time to develop new business and while they are developing new business, they are not earning an income. It is commonly referred to as the feast & famine scenario. If you want to spend your time consulting and earning income, then you will need to outsource your business development requirements at some point. Appleton Greene handles the entire business development process on behalf of its Accredited Consultants. Indeed there is no business development activity required on behalf of the consultant whatsoever. This enables consultants to manage their time more effectively and to optimize their service delivery and fee earning time. CLICK HERE and select BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT from the tabs list located beneath the application forms, for more details about the Appleton Greene Business Development Process.
Establish a portfolio of 10 clients on 12 month contractual agreements
Your ability to have a consulting business which is sustainable, will of course depend upon the business model that you are implementing. Your business model not only needs to enable you to spend more time with service delivery and less time with business development, but it also needs to enable you to manage portfolios of clients, rather than one or two at a time. This will enable you to maximize your earning capacity and to minimize risk. You also need to ensure that your consulting assignments stand the test of time and last long enough for you to achieve what you need to. The Appleton Greene Accredited Consulting Service (ACS) business model enables consultants to establish a portfolio of at least 10 clients each signing 12 month contractual agreements. It also enables consultants to expand at their own pace by developing a client base requiring different levels of service and hence different time commitments. It enables clients to upgrade and downgrade their service requirements as and when they need to at the end of each contractual agreement, subject to ongoing availability. It also enables the consultant to manage their client portfolio comfortably. There is less chance of losing a client, because they have the option to downgrade their service if they need to. Other clients can also upgrade if more time and commitment is deemed necessary, or if a related project needs undertaking. The result, is that the loss of a client would only constitute a maximum of 10% of your complete client ledger and income base, which all contributes towards achieving a sustainable consulting practice.
Obtain productive client testimonials
It is always surprising how many consultants either forget or just feel too embarrassed to ask their clients for testimonials. They do a perfectly good job, are shown appreciation for it and yet do not ask for a testimonial. There is probably an inherent reluctance in all of us to ask for personal praise, but even if we do ask for it, how many of us ask for it in such a way as it will prove to be productive. Written testimonials are always preferred, because they constitute evidence and we can utilize them for as long as we need to, long after our personal contacts have left the organizations that we have worked for. It also enables us to structure what is being said about us and our service. Is this really necessary? Absolutely. We do not want our clients having to think on their feet during a telephone call or email. We do not want to rely upon them having to remember the things that are important. It is not, after all, a client’s responsibility to promote us within their own time and most clients will insist upon strict privacy and confidentiality being maintained. So how do we obtain good testimonials? Appleton Greene implements a proactive testimonial policy with all Accredited Consultants. We write to clients every six months asking them to complete Service Performance Questionnaires (SPQ). These questionnaires request information such as why they originally placed a service order with the consultant, what their Key Corporate Objectives (KCO) were, how the service satisfied these objectives and a simple SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. We also ask for recommendations for service improvement. We then ask the client to indicate whether they are happy for us to publish the positive feedback in the form of a testimonial on behalf of the consultant and Appleton Greene, as long as their privacy and confidentiality are protected. This enables us to collect testimonials on behalf of our consultants as a third party and as an integral part of our quality management procedure with clients and this enables consultants to develop a formidable portfolio of good quality client testimonials over time.
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