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Fear of Selling Work, and How to Overcome It

Scared, Kid

What is the most detrimental yet unspoken constraint to the growth of your boutique consulting firm? Fear of Selling Work, driven by delivery risk. Do you have the right people? And do you have enough of them?

What is the most detrimental yet unspoken constraint to the growth of your boutique consulting firm? Fear of Selling Work, or FOSW, for those who aren't yet familiar with our soon-to-be-viral acronym. During the typical summer project lull, this may be less of a concern. But come September, when clients are starting to feel the heat from yet unmet annual goals, projects can come in waves. You can suddenly shift from crazed business development mode to “oh crap, all of these could actually land at the same time” mode. You get a slightly queasy feeling while writing a proposal. You secretly hope that one of your clients' legal teams delays the project by 3-4 weeks so that you have time to roll staff off of another engagement. For those that experience FOSW, Talent Response has four techniques to squash it.

There are four keys to wiping out FOSW so that you can comfortably go after work without concern about capacity to deliver: 1. Access enough people, 2. access different people, 3. do more with less, and 4. manage your clients.

1. Access enough people: Your project demand is variable, so why shouldn’t your consulting resources also be variable? Your revenue is variable, so why shouldn’t your costs also be variable? This is precisely the logic behind Talent Response’s project-based solutions for consulting firms. A single firm’s friends-and-family network cannot be robust enough to access highly capable, project-specific consulting resources whenever you need them. This shortcoming motivates Talent Response to continue to grow its network of well over 1,500 curated independent consultants to help firms staff up quickly when project demand surges. Some firms even work with us to pre-vet candidates as projects in the pipeline become increasingly likely to sign.

2. Access different people: In some cases, you simply need more resources similar to those you already have internally. In other cases, there is a need for a slightly different skillset to augment your team. Project-based independent consultants can be a great way to help firms extend into adjacent practice areas. These resources help bring best practices from new verticals/functions into your project team, upskill existing staff, and build impactful proof points in new domains. It could actually be the key to meet those business development goals and take on new, interesting work.

3. Manage your clients: After you’ve wrung out as much efficiency as possible, it may be time to manage your clients. This can mean guiding them towards a later project start-date or adjusting the work plan to slow roll the first few weeks of the project. Another effective technique can be market-based pricing. When ½ the firm is on the beach, it can make sense to be flexible on pricing. Busy periods, however, are not the time for price discounts. The team’s time is more valuable when utilization exceeds the comfort zone. If the value you’re providing clients is also higher, consider pricing accordingly.

Don’t let FOSW happen to you. A flexible staffing model combined with productivity enhancements can allow you to sell with abandon. Contact us to learn more about how our network of experienced consultants can help mitigate the true cost of variable project demand and blow your business development goals out of the water.

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