If you are a solutions-oriented person and have an aptitude for working with teams, then you’re probably a good candidate for becoming a management consultant. The type of consultant you become will depend upon your skills, areas of expertise, education, and interests.
Management consultants can work in a variety of industries including finance, tax, human resources, and technology, just to name a few. Many management consultants assess businesses and processes and conduct performance analyses to identify areas of improvement.
Here are six elements of success that will help you maximize your opportunities as a management consultant:
- Identify your competitive advantage. Ask yourself the following questions to determine your positioning strategy: What are the unique experiences and skills you bring to your role as a management consultant? What kind of unusual value can you bring to your prospective clients? What are the advantages of hiring you versus another management consultant who is otherwise equally skilled? Answering these kinds of questions will help you pinpoint your competitive advantage.
- Create a dynamic marketing plan. Plan to devote at least 25 percent of your time to marketing. Some successful strategies include regularly sending personal letters that reference an interesting newspaper clipping or book review (make sure to attach a copy of the clipping); creating a professional Web site that includes biographical information, services offered, contact information, and a growing client list; securing testimonials from happy clients and sending them with other marketing collateral to prospective customers; writing articles for industry publications (be sure to get a byline including your company name and Web site address); speaking at industry events; leading workshops and seminars; distributing an online newsletter on a regular basis to keep your name in front of customers and prospects.
- Go back to school. You don’t need an MBA or a Ph.D. to become a successful management consult (though an advanced degree could help), but you do need to be up-to-date with current management issues. You can accomplish this by attending topical workshops and seminars and by reading a wide variety of business publications. Once you decide on a specialty, however, concentrate on trade journals that focus on your industry.
- Learn how to write a proposal. Knowing how to assemble an effective and winning proposal is essential. It’s true that you may clinch a contract without submitting a formal proposal, but in some cases you may need to respond to an “RFP” or request for proposal. It’s best to know from the start how to compose one that will put your company at the top of the list. You’ll want to include a clear list of deliverables (reports) and a schedule of fees. Make sure you protect any proprietary technology included within the proposal and copyright all your written tools including training material and any customized forms.
- Price your services. Determining your worth is often more difficult than the work you’re hired to do. Don’t underestimate your value to the customer by underbidding. Develop a price list for your services that is both comparable to the industry standard and in line with your level of experience and education.
- Position your practice. If you want to distinguish yourself from the competition, you must develop a positioning strategy. Ask yourself these questions to help position your practice: What do I say (and how do I say it) in order to be heard? What is the message in terms of what I offer? How can I (and my message) remain consistent over time? What specific benefits does my practice offer?