Guerrilla Intelligence The Consultant Is a Buyer

For consultants, pursuing a new opportunity is both a selling and a buying process. Of course, you have to sell your plan, proposal, and fee estimate to the client, which is never simple. But it's equally important that you be able to "buy" the information the client provides about the project, the barriers to completion, and its definition of success.

If the client holds back vital facts or gives you incorrect information, your proposal could be way off the mark and the project could end up in the ditch down the road. If that happens, you stand to lose as much as—or more than—the client.

client doesn't show great interest in working with you, politely decline the offer.

If clients are satisfied with initial discussions, they'll usually ask you to visit their sites for face-to-face meetings. But remember, clients make no investment in your sales and proposal work. By completing the prequalification step, you will know if you have a reasonable shot at a profitable project before you travel to the client's site with colleagues in tow and devote your resources to further investigation.

A consulting firm, responding to a highly competitive Request for Proposal (RFP), spent two months with a team of five consultants preparing a detailed proposal to help a client create a new strategy for its flagging retail business. Working closely with the client's consultant selection committee, the team prepared a 75-page proposal, including appendixes, outlining how the client and consultant would work together to forge a winning retail strategy. The client found the proposal and team so impressive that they accepted the proposal. The consultants immediately celebrated this great victory.

The next day, the consultant called the client to confirm the project start date and other details, such as team composition and the early tasks needing attention. The consultant was shocked to learn that the project hadn't been funded. The start date was not established and wouldn't be for several months, if ever.

Remember the second question every consultant should ask in prequalifying client projects: "Is the project funded?" Don't proceed without an answer to that question.

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