Posts Tagged Client

Consultants: Find Projects

ConsultantFORCE is an online marketplace where business clients post consulting projects in order to identify and hire qualified consultants whose skill sets and past project experience align with their project’s requirements. In addition, ConsultantFORCE furnishes consultants with an effective and economical way of finding new business. The ConsultantFORCE website has been designed to provide a space where consultants can quickly identify project opportunities that match their firm’s capabilities and then apply to projects of interest. ConsultantFORCE Consultants can find opportunities through category matching emails sent directly to their inbox or through our project listing board and can monitor project status through the Consultant’s Profile Page.

Becoming a ConsultantFORCE Registered Member provides you with benefits like:

  • Increasing the qualified leads that match your consulting practice
  • Opening the ability to submit proposals for these validated projects and compete in our exclusive bidding process
  • Attracting top performing companies to review your proposals
  • Linking your proposals to your personal web pages, project samples, videos and personalized marketing materials
  • Accessing our own performance survey that allow you get real feedback from existing clients and demonstrate your results to future clients
  • Qualifying for the ConsultantFORCE QualityCheck Status by providing three references on work completed
  • Providing you the flexibility to submit proposals to only the projects you choose
    Accessing your own back office tools to submit, review and track your proposal submissions

Now is the time to invest in your consulting firm to acquire the kinds of project leads that will take your practice to the next level through ConsultantFORCE.

View this Video on how to Market Your Consulting Business on YouTube for a fraction of the cost of regular online promotion. You can also visit our YouTube Channel for many more cost effective ways  to Market your Consulting Business Online.

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Make Successful ConsultantFORCE Project Responses

This article is intended as a guide to help you generate successful results when responding to ConsultantFORCE project opportunities. These guidelines will enable you to make effective responses in a comprehensive, yet efficient manner. Visit the ConsultantFORCE website project list on a regular basis and respond to project opportunities within 24 hours of the actual posting date if at all possible. It’s a good idea to establish this as a daily routine in the same way you check your e-mail on a frequent basis. We provide an automatic matching function but this may not always be 100% accurate so it’s possible to miss out on potentially good matches. As a general rule, replying quickly will create a good impression with the client and put you ahead of potential competitors.

The ‘General Comments’ Section of the Online Response Tool

I’d recommend entering in as much relevant information as possible into the ‘General Comments’ section by providing detailed information. Always try to give as many specific examples of similar experiences you have had with other clients. This is one of the most important areas of the response, so your investment in time in this section is worthwhile. Avoid simply saying, “See our website, brochure or attachments etc… for more information”. You want the client to see how well you meet the criteria directly within the online response form itself. In this way you are far more likely to stimulate interest in your consulting firm.  As you create these specific examples, cut and paste them into a saved document so the next time similar criteria come along you will be able to utilize these same examples for future replies. Always try to respond with as much concrete data as possible. When creating your project response, try to add content that will motivate and stimulate interest from the client – something that sets your consulting firm apart from other candidates. How much information should you give regarding actual solutions to help the client? Obviously, you don’t want to give too much ‘free’ information at this early stage, but at the same time, you want to show you have innovative ideas that demonstrate to the client you are someone that can help them reach a final solution. Give enough detail to engage their curiosity, a sales ‘hook’ – but stop short of giving too much in the way of specific solutions. It goes without saying that you should spell and grammar check everything you submit, so that you are presenting a professional image. To give comprehensive responses and, at the same time remain efficient, you can “cut and paste” pertinent information into your responses. You could use content from previously saved project responses or you can use the project response archive for this purpose. When pasting saved information, you should still edit the content so that it is customized to this client’s particular situation.

Example Project Description:

We are a healthcare organization seeking to identify and engage a consultant to help us restructure our Environmental Policy and to manage our operations in a manner that is protective of Human health and the environment. We are looking for better ways to meet our Environmental goals through conservation, reuse and recycling programs. We are committed to improving environmental management in the community to safeguard the environment.

Ineffective Response: We would be ideal candidates for this project. View our website for details. (This statement lacks qualification – what makes you an ‘ideal candidate’?

Simply suggesting they ‘view the website’, implies, “I don’t have time to provide you with details, but if you research our site, you can see why we are ideal candidates”).

Effective Response: Our company has extensive experience working on exactly this type of project. We have been responsible for restructuring major Environmental Policies and have managed operations of this nature in a manner that have been sensitive to the surrounding environment. Our operations are dedicated to providing specialized environmental consulting services and we can provide an extensive list of diverse clients who have received outstanding results in similar projects. We will provide different options on how you will be able to meet your environmental goals through conservation and recycling programs.

Estimated Budget ($) and Budget Comments

Although this section of the project response form requires a ‘quote’ – there may, or may not be enough detailed information to give an estimate of the final budget. This might require you to ask the potential client more detailed questions about specific aspects of the project, so that you will be able to give them a more accurate estimate of the final cost. You can use the “Budget Comments” section to ask for more information on the project. Remember, you are certainly not giving a “Quote” at this point – you are simply giving a broad indication, from your own past experience, of the probable budget range given the information you have so far. A final quote will not be specified until after the full scope of the work has been agreed by both parties.

Specific Project Requirement Section(s)

Give specific examples in the fields where you explain how well you meet the project criteria. When rating yourself on the specific requirements of the project, remember you are the expert, so you should rate yourself appropriately, giving yourself credit for your expertise (10 is highest). In these fields that request specific criteria, create detailed yet concise responses exactly tailored to the project requirements. You might also want to try to ‘mirror’ the writing style of the project description. For example, if the client seems to be extremely detail oriented, then respond in kind.

Example Project Requirement #1 – Over 15 years of experience managing marketing projects.

Ineffective Response: I am a well qualfied consultant for this project. (This statement lacks detailed information and qualification. The word “qualified” is misspelled.)

Effective Response: I have been working in this industry for twenty five years. I have completed several projects in this specific field, including our most recent project with Briggs & Myer. I have attached a case study that highlights our success in this project.

Example Project Requirement #2 – Consulting firm would preferably be located in New Jersey

Ineffective Response: We do not have any offices in New Jersey.

Effective Response: We are located in Portland, Maine; however we are more than willing to travel. We also have the capability to undertake much of this work remotely. General maintenance with 24-hour customer support can also be serviced by remote access. In addition, we have a trusted consulting partner that we work with on a regular basis in your area if you need immediate assistance.

The idea is to get your consulting firm beyond the “first cut”. After that, the client will probably do more due diligence on the firms they think have the qualifications they are looking for by linking to your own company website, viewing your ConsultantFORCE Reference Report, opening any document attachments etc.

Document Attachment Section

You should clearly demonstrate that you are well qualified for the project by completing the initial project from in a comprehensive way. This shows the client that you have the required expertise to be a good contender for the project. Once the client is satisfied you have the experience he’s looking for, he can add you into his short-list of candidates. At this point he’ll want to do more due diligence on your consulting firm and will start the process of reviewing your company website, ConsultantFORCE Reference Report and open document attachments you included in your response. In most cases attaching documents that are relevant to the client needs will illustrate that you are highly qualified to take on the job. Your goal is to always emphasize that you are a prime candidate by providing examples of similar work you have already successfully completed for other clients. It’s a good idea to prepare this material in advance, so it’s worth taking some time to create documents that you can attach to your replies. For example, you might consider creating a Company profile, Client list, Past Project Summary List, Resumes, PowerPoint Presentations, Demonstration Videos, Testimonials and any other general marketing collateral – essentially anything you can prepare in advance that you can attach to your project responses. This will reduce your reply time considerably yet still supply the client with a good impression of your capability to take on the work. You’ll want to add information that will trigger the client to select your firm for the next step: this might include a conference call or a request for further information. Once your documents are attached for client review, the buyer will then have complete information about your firm: your original response along with a link to your own business website. Assuming you have received three reference requests, they will also be able to see you have the “Quality Checkmark” that identifies you as a well qualified firm. When the client first views your project reply, they will then be able to link directly to your Quality Performance Report.

After your Response has been Submitted

Once your response has been submitted, the client will have your contact information and may get in touch with you if they need more information or once they decide on how they would like to proceed. When the client has contacted you, your relationship with that client is now the same as any other new client you may have sourced by more conventional means through your own marketing, networking, direct referrals etc. As a result, we expect that you will follow up with them in a pro-active and professional manner. The potential to close the project is now very much in your own hands and is dependent on your presentation and sales skills. Frequently the size of the project determines how long the project will remain ‘open’: larger projects can easily be anywhere from six months to a year in review due to the sometimes lengthy decision-making process. Other clients may have protracted contract negotiation procedures. In all cases, our Client Managers will follow-up with the client at regular intervals to get updates. We recommend that our consultants manage their active project list by ‘Archiving’ older projects which are still under consideration which will allow you to focus on future opportunities as they arise. Even after a project is “Archived” in your list of replies, it remains ‘Open’ and the client will still be able to contact you directly.

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10 Tips to Increase your Success using ConsultantFORCE

To be successful in responding to client opportunities we have compiled these general guidelines that will assist in developing the most effective presentation of your firm’s skills. This will allow clients to recognize the value of hiring you for their projects. When responding to projects that match your firm’s capabilities, remember that ConsultantFORCE clients use our service to locate the best talent and experience in the industry for their projects. Therefore, present your firm’s qualifications in a quantitative and qualitative manner. The client views your responses through a secure page on our website; they do not receive them via e-mail.

When developing your responses to the client, follow these guidelines to ensure the best results:

  •   Address the client’s specific requirements. Do not try to read into or assume the meaning of the client’s statements. Rather, give specific answers (e.g., number of years of experience, list of past projects/clients) that address the criteria in question.
  •  Proofread for grammar and spelling. Recognize that your responses to the client criteria will be viewed directly by the client. It is in your best interest to represent your business professionally.
  •  Compose concise statements. Make statements of fact, based on past and present experience. A response to a project opportunity is not a venue for broad, general marketing statements. Responses should outline or summarize past cases in which you addressed and solved similar issues and problems for other clients.
  •  Cite specific examples of your experiences. Use quantified statements that speak to the questions (e.g., who, what, where, when, how long, how many).
  •  Limit the length of your responses. Your project response should be comprehensive and complete; however, you should also make it as concise and to the point as possible.
  • Do not focus on the anticipated budget. It is not necessary to over analyze the initial budget estimate in your initial response. Simply provide a dollar range and qualify that by explaining the final cost will depend on the final specific deliverables. Projects will close at a reasonable budget once the full scope of the work has been agreed by both parties.
  • Maintain a sense of urgency. Most projects may be posted for up to two weeks, but they will be most active over the first several days. Do not wait until the final deadline to respond. On rare occasions, it’s possible a project posting might be removed from the list before the ‘Application Deadline’ date (this would only occur at the request of the client if he was certain he had already reviewed a strong list of potential candidates). In general, late responses may receive less attention from potential clients.
  • Use templates where appropriate. It may be helpful to develop templates for use in the ‘General Comments’ section. You can create the templates as Word documents and then copy and paste the content into the response. You should customize this material for each unique project, editing information as appropriate.
  • Provide a complete response. The client will use these responses to make a first cut. Incomplete responses that do not provide specific details for each criterion are less likely to be successful.

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The Transformation from Information Technology (IT) To Business Technology (BT)

Excerpt from Forrester’s IT Forum 2007. The seven things Forrester Research Chairman and Chief Executive Officer George Colony would tell your CEO. George’s list revolves around a central theme: the evolution of IT to BT (Business Technology).

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Identifying the 20 Most Common Marketing Mistakes

Whether you’re branding your organization, pitching your product or service, or desiring to reach more potential buyers, marketing is critical to your business strategy. You can help increase your odds of successful marketing endeavors by avoiding common marketing mistakes.

Mistake #1 – Inability to Identify Your Target Audience

While this may seem very basic, knowing your target audience is perhaps *the* most important part of your marketing strategy. If you don’t know who will be purchasing from you, or if you can’t easily identify your target audience (e.g. Senior Executives in Fortune 500 companies) then even the best marketing strategies are doomed for failure.

You can eliminate this mistake by researching your target audience. Find out information about them such as:

• What trade publications or industry trade/conferences do they read or attend?
• What professional associations are affiliated with your target audience?
• What problems are frequently encountered by your audience that could be resolved when using your product/service?


Mistake #2—Failing to Test Your Market

Do you know if there is a need for your product or service with your target audience? While many will assume that there is a need, it doesn’t mean that one actually exists. Make no assumptions! Instead, test your target market in smaller groups to see if there is a need for your product or service by asking questions—lots and lots of questions. Get to the heart of what the problems are that your product or service can resolve or eliminate.


Mistake #3—Not Taking Your Competitors Seriously

Competitors can be real competitors (sell the exact same products or services) or perceived competitors (offer similar products or services). While it is important to know who your competitors are, it is more important that you are aware of how you compare or stack up against them.

Start by preparing a comparative chart which should include:

• Your strengths—What is better about your product/service (e.g. better warranty, price, more features)?
• Your weaknesses—Where are your vulnerabilities (e.g. no real track record, lack of available stock, limited developmental budget, etc.)?


Mistake #4– Not Defining Your Position in the Market

Do you know what makes your product or service unique, different, or what makes you stand out in a crowd? If you can’t easily identify your “uniqueness”, you’ll likely blend among your competitors. Find your unique position and use it to your advantage. Consider the following when determining what makes your product/service special:

• Sales or Technical Support, both prior to, during and after the sales cycle.
• Special features or add-ons not offered by your competition.
• Discounts or Special Pricing Programs.
• Bonus or Incentive Items.
• Experience in the Industry.
• Awards or Positive Publicity Received.


Mistake #5—Failing to Allocate Necessary Funds

Even highly successful businesses often forget to allocate funds exclusively for marketing purposes. Instead, they use what’s left over for marketing funds, or simply make impromptu decisions about marketing expenditures as needed. The problem with this kind of budget is that it confirms that marketing is an afterthought rather than part of the overall business strategy for success. Think of your marketing budget as *the* most important part of your business plan. Set aside a minimum of 10% of your annual earnings specifically for marketing, and then define a clear plan as to how you plan to allocate those funds to reach your marketing goals.


#6—Failing to Establish and Implement a Plan

Benjamin Franklin once said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.” Today, that statement should be, “He who fails to plan is *destined* to fail.” If you want to maximize your marketing efforts, establish some goals or objectives. Then, take it one step further, and define each step needed to reach those goals or objectives. Set clear, measurable targets such as:

• Increase the number of websites linking into my site by 100 links.
• Be featured as an expert in 3 trade/industry publications.
• Improve customer satisfaction by 75%.
• Increase repeat business by 35%.
• Produce a 35% return on investment for all advertising.


Mistake #7—Inability to Articulate What You Do, Sell or Make

Do you know how to present what you do, sell or make, quickly and concisely and in a manner that your audience will understand? If your audience isn’t connecting with your message, then they likely won’t see the value in your offer. And, if they don’t get your message, they likely won’t buy from you either. Learn to define what it is that you do, sell or make, by asking questions:

• EXAMPLE: “Have you ever performed a search using the search engines? So, you’re familiar with how the search engines generate a list of websites based upon the key words  you type into the search engine? Well, my company specializes in making sure that  websites are written and designed in a manner that helps the search engines to rank the site higher in the search results. This is really important because over 90% of all traffic to websites is generated by links coming from the search engines.”


Mistake #8—Failure to Present Strong Marketing Messages

Writing great copy starts with a strong message. Write copy that covers who, what, where, when and why. Tell your audience you know who they are, that you know what problems they are encountering, where they can use your products/services, when they should look to you for products/services and ultimately why they need you.


Mistake #9—Forgetting it is about “Them”

Don’t make the mistake of only describing your products or services—or worse yet, assume that the product or service is so desired that it will sell itself! Instead, remember that your business and earning someone’s business (sales) isn’t about you. Rather, it’s all about them. Make sure that your marketing messages discuss the “what’s in it for them” factor. Instead of describing all of the fancy features of your latest product/service, describe the benefits of your product/service. Speak to *their* needs, for example:

• Our online billing system allows you to have immediate access to your account so you can control your expenses in real-time.
• The tarnish-resistant finish ensures that you will enjoy the beauty of our silver products without the effort of tedious cleaning and polishing.


Mistake #10—No Strategy for Repeat Business

Did you know that it is far more costly to acquire a new customer than to gain new business from existing customers? Why? Because there are zero acquisition costs with gaining new business from existing customers; existing customers are already familiar with you since they have purchased from you in the past; and often there is more business to be earned from current customers. Sadly, however, most marketing strategies don’t take repeat business (also known as customer retention strategies) into account. As a result, the marketing budget is spent mostly on recruiting new customers instead of earning more business from existing ones. Consider marketing programs which offer loyalty and referral incentives such as:

• Redemption coupons for repeat business which can be used toward product discounts, free shipping, free merchandise, etc.
• Exclusives—products or services which are available only to existing clients.
• Bonus buys—special prices for repeat business.
• Referral Incentives—bonuses for referring business such as a finder’s fee which can be paid as cash or offered toward the purchase of products/services.


Mistake #11—Failing to Ask for a Commitment or Invite a Call to Action

Do you ask your prospects and customers to commit to a specific action or invite them to participate in a certain action? If you’re not asking, likely your competitors are and they are earning the business! Make a point to always invite your audience into a specific, desired action such as:

• Requesting more information.
• Welcoming a call back at a later time.
• Making a purchase.

Don’t forget to include a sense of urgency for the desired action. For example:

• Act now and receive a 10% discount.
• Space is limited. Reserve your seat today.
• Free shipping for orders placed today.
• Request your free catalog and receive a gift certificate to save $25 on your next purchase.


Mistake #12—Failing to Test Your Messages

There are two theories in marketing. The first is “location, location, location.” The second is “test, test, test.” To achieve optimal results from your marketing strategies, test them on a smaller scale. Experiment with different designs, colors and even content to see what’s working and what’s not. This way, you’ll be able to use your marketing dollars where they will be of the most benefit to you!


Mistake #13—Making Marketing Decisions with a Miser Mentality

The old adage warns, “You’ll get what you pay for.” If you’re hoping to penny-pinch or a la carte your marketing strategy to save a few bucks, think twice. You’re far better off to implement one part of your marketing plan then to skimp on the overall plan. For optimal results, plan ahead. After you’ve prepared your marketing strategy, look into the costs associated with the plan’s implementation. Then, establish a budget based upon one or two strategies that will likely generate the best return on your investment.


Mistake #14—Failing to Recognize Creative Limitations

How you are perceived by your target audience can make or break even the best planned marketing strategy. Don’t be afraid to recognize your creative limitations and look to a professional for assistance. Remember, image is *everything* when it comes to attracting serious buyers and that may require working with someone with specialized skills to get the best results. A word of caution–unless Uncle Joe is a professional graphic artist or your former college roommate is a professional marketing copywriter, avoid using family or friends to establish your visual and written “image”. Instead, find an experienced professional with a proven track record who is willing to work within your budget to provide you with a polished presence.


Mistake #15—Establishing Unrealistic Expectations

Unfortunately, a common self-sabotaging mistake involves unrealistic expectations. Many assume that the moment that they commence marketing that there should be immediate results. However, great marketing takes time—lots of time, and plenty of dedication. Prepare to invest both time and effort and allow enough time (e.g. at least 6 months, if not longer) to begin seeing long-term results.


Mistake #16—Lack of Tracking Systems

Sadly, a costly mistake often encountered by businesses is the failure to define your return on your marketing investment. Do you know where your marketing budget is spent? Can you easily identify your action conversion ratio (e.g. how many people contact you after a mailing, how many request information, how many make a purchase, etc.)? With today’s Internet technology tracking the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns should be just a mouse click away. Look to web traffic reporting software such as WebsiteTrafficReport.com for affordable and comprehensive reports.


Mistake #17—Failing to Follow-Up

The rule of thumb in marketing is that the average prospect must be in contact with you between 7-10 times before they will commit to some kind of action (e.g. request more information, make a purchase, etc.). If your marketing campaign doesn’t plan for repeat follow-ups with prospects you’re losing potential business.


Mistake #18—Not Learning About Marketing

No one says that you need to be an expert in every area of your business. Even the most savvy of business owners have an area (or more) where their skills require the assistance of others! However, don’t make the mistake of failing to know the basic business skills. While you don’t need to know the nitty-gritty details about marketing, you should know the basics, such as what is marketing, what is the purpose of marketing vs. sales vs. advertising vs. promotion, and finally, how a marketing plan is essential to reaching your overall objectives.


Mistake #19 –Misapplying Learned Marketing Techniques

Ok, you’ve taken the leap and have attended marketing seminars on writing great copy, how to market your business, how to find your customers and how to keep them coming back. But, now is, the most critical time in your business marketing efforts! Why? Because, now you are armed with just enough information to be dangerous, but you still do not have enough information to be truly effective performing marketing on your own. Before applying all of the new strategies you’ve learned in a brief encounter at a seminar or workshop, take the time to do some additional research so that you are able to implement the techniques for the greatest impact. If, for example, you’ve attended a workshop on writing great copy, take the time to find out even more, such as how to create a great headline or testing the copy on a smaller scale. Workshops and seminars are to be used to increase your basic skills, but it is up to you to learn more to advance those skills if you wish to apply the principles for optimal results. If you aren’t willing or able to invest the additional time to build on the skills you have learned during a seminar or workshop, it is best to hand off the project to a more specialized team member.


Mistake #20—Having a Know-it-All Mentality

Unless you’ve worked extensively in marketing and are very confident that you can treat your products/services with 100% objectivity, you’ll likely need someone (or a team) who possess more specialized skills in the marketing arena. Many a business owner has fallen prey to ineffective marketing. Knowing the basic skills of marketing knowledge and implementing a successful marketing strategy are really two different things. Know-it-all marketers try to do too much of their own marketing without the advanced marketing skills needed to make the marketing campaign successful. And, sadly, because they know a limited amount about marketing, they assume they know more than they do and it is to their detriment. The common symptoms of a know-it-all mentality include:

• Creating much of your own marketing literature or building your website on your own and having your ego attached to your work. (E.g. You make statements such as, “I think my literature looks really classy” or “I think my website is much better than my competition’s site.”)
• Becoming very critical of marketing materials from your competition, even when those materials are generating serious industry buzz, or are increasing sales revenues.
• Forcing the target audience into your personal style/tastes, instead of following their lead and uncovering what it is that they really want or demand.
• Becoming the “ultimate skeptic” when speaking with others (on your team of specialists, your customers, etc.) You make statements such as:

o “I’ve done that and it didn’t work.”
o “It doesn’t matter what the audience likes, what matters is what I like.”
o “I’m very particular about how I want things.”
o “I’ve thought about that, and I’ve never tried it, but I know it won’t work.”
o “I don’t need to include more information. The product/service is so good that it will sell itself.”

• Relying too much on outdated marketing tactics (such as guerilla or grass roots techniques) or tactics with lots of hype, but little tangible results on a big-picture scale.
• Launching marketing or advertising efforts full-force without testing them on a smaller scale.
• Picking the brain of experts or specialists for extended periods of time (e.g. over a hour each time) without the expectation that you will be billed for their time.
• You try to market your products/services inappropriately in social situations. (e.g. Pitching your weight loss products while in the midst of negotiating the price of a service you want to receive from the other party.)

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Successful Project Management Consulting Engagement

Project Management consultants can generate project work not only by interviewing but also by having conversations that showcase their talents. Rosemary Hossenlopp, PMP provides tips on how to structure your time in front of a hiring manager to get the job you want.

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