Friday, September 25, 2009

Consulting Success Guaranteed!!! 3 steps to promising RESULTS

When delivering technical consulting the slippery slope we all ride is the risk that our expertise may ever lead our customers astray. The fear that our credibility, our reputation, and future are on the line with every piece or distilled techni-HO wisdom we send out in the world. We have to be bold with our promises but of course must hedge everything.

The delicate balancing we seek is provide the over the top promise of a brighter future that will open up our clients wallet, while not exposing our soft underbellies to the risk of failure and and future destitution.

  1. Define finite and feasible goals
  2. Speak to the customers pains/needs
  3. Shoot the moon

First, finite goals. Many an engineering project has gone astray because the consultant has promised something that cannot be delivered. Recently that has included, develop "Robust Compensation plan for production stampings" (remind me to blog that out in the stamping blog), design light weight rechargeable batteries for hybrid cars, and develop sustainable cold fusion. Now, why are these examples of bad promises that don't meet the criteria of finite goals?
  • an acceptable result might not exist. For those who know anything about stamping (go to other blog to learn) it is possible the ideal result is not there. And now our client might expect it
  • defined goal is relative (who says what is light weight?)
  • The goal may be totally unattainable, or if they are it takes too long to get there
Instead, the goals must be finite and achievable on a time line. Don't promise the result but perhaps the enablers to the results, "establish the process and install the technology for achieving robust springback compensation." This is achievable. We know how to install the process, we can define the process and needed technology. There is less chance of bloat in the scope.

Second, speak to the customers pains/needs. With this we need to put the benefit in front of the customer immediately, so that it is clear what they gain by paying our fee (also establishing the disproportionate value statement needed for the Win-Win). "Install the process and technology for achieving robust springback compensation, for a potential reduction in tryout time of 50%" this particular type of promise is very nice as we promise the installation of a process and new technology which is very provable and measurable, and link it to a benefit that is not entirely measurable, since if they do follow our process they can never know what the entire exposure was. i.e. "Imagine how long it wold have taken otherwise..."

Third, Shoot the moon. Shooting the moon is the tricky one, it requires being big and flashy and very much covering your bottom. What I mean by "shooting the moon" is a way to Guarantee Success. Yes, Guarantee success, onto which you can put any type of promise to the customer. 100% refund, slavery for life, your first born. The "shoot the moon" guarantee works like this. Your promise what you mention in 1 and 2 above of the delivered results promise, then guarantee the result IF ________. The "if ________" is where you all will earn your true techni-HO stripes in knowing what the key if is. It usually involves something like "do what ever i say", but can't be that transparent. Most consulting clients should be smart enough to spot a bad guarantee like this but maybe not. Most of us fall for it regarding lifetime warranties on anything we buy. Lifetime satisfaction guarantee (just keep the receipt, the original packaging, never get wet, and NEVER FEED AFTER MIDNIGHT.)

Shooting the moon, requires a highly insightful knowledge of your customer, and knowing exactly how they will self destruct your and their hard work. I call it shoot the moon for this simple analogy.
I can promise any nation on the earth that they can become a world economic super power if they follow me advice and with my assistance put a man on the moon. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Finite and achievable, speaks to need and desire, and has an escape clause. Because truly, any nation no matter how small if they manage to put a man on the moon, they probably were already a world super economic power, my idea just got them the recognition. Those are results and i get paid.

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