The Seven Signs of the Consulting Apocalypse

1. Billing by the hour, day or other time unit.

2. Failing to find and establish a relationship with an economic buyer (someone who can sign a check).

3. Leading with methodology and techniques rather than results and value.

4. Being prescriptive in marketing and diagnostic in delivery, instead of the reverse.

5. Failure to make definitive next steps with specific dates and times.

6. Over-specializing and focusing on narrow markets.

7. Increasing labor intensity as business increases, instead of decreasing labor intensity.

How many of these plague you? The good news is that they are all remedial. The bad news is that they create a cul-de-sac for your practice and you often need someone to point to the exit.

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.


10 thoughts on “The Seven Signs of the Consulting Apocalypse

  1. You start to consult after you get paid. That’s when you tell the client what should be done. Before that, you’re marketing, being diagnostic with the client to help determine the buyer’s needs and where you can best add value.

  2. Thanks for the post. Just a couple questions…

    If “the good news is that they are all remedial” then how can these be “signs of the … apocalypse”? I don’t understand how something can be remedial and at the same time a harbinger of doom.

    Also, what’s up with billing by time unit? Fixed-price billing is a shortcut to scope creep, no?

  3. John, I think you’re being a tad too literal. Maybe I believe that even doom can be prevented.

    Time based billing is for amateurs and no one will ever get rich charging for their time. Scope creep occurs anywhere when consultants allow tasks to creep in not required by the objectives. That has nothing to do with billing.

    Have you read any of my books?

    • Thanks A LOT for your response, Alan. I’d love it if you can clarify it. If one doesn’t specialize, he would be a generalist and their advice would not be “special” and just like everybody else’s. Where is the magic and where do “value-based” fees come from then if you don’t have anything special?

      Or maybe we mean different things by specialization? I usually equate it to focusing on a particular area. And in your books you tend to praise focus very much.

  4. Dr Alan,
    Doesn’t Mercedes and other luxury brands focus on the narrow market (compared to the whole population)? Isn’t their success purely because of their focus on narrow market?

    I’m little puzzled. May be your advice is for consulting and not for product companies?

    Thank you,
    Joseph

  5. Of course it’s for consulting! But you still have to take a broader view. Mercedes used to be technology driven (“engineered like no other car in the world”) selling high priced cars to wealthy people. Today, they are product and market driven and sell very inexpensive cars, as well. They’ve taken the risk of going downscale to broaden their markets. Volkswagen ranges from tiny cars to Bentleys.

    In general, the more buyers you can lure, the better off you are in turbulent economies. That’s usually true for products, and always true for consulting.

  6. Anton, the problem is you’re talking about methodology and input. Never specialize on the input side, as in “sales training” or “strategy retreats” or “focus groups.”

    Concentrate on the output side: greater profit, better repute, higher retention. Provide the intellectual capital and thought leadership that enables you to establish trusting relationships with buyers. That makes you “special” to a lot of people.

    Narrow focus is insane in consulting. Can some get away with it? Yes, they are exceptions, and the business is boring and tedious.

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