You have launched your consultancy business. Your marketing efforts have paid off. All of your activities on social media and public speaking worked. You created a proposal, negotiated and renegotiated with your client, and the deal is done.
Now, you're wondering what to do next.
Just like your clients have processes to ensure consistently high customer service, you have to do the same. The business consulting process is what I call the "Consulting Engagement Cycle." It is not an exact formula you need to follow but a guideline that helps ensure you can deliver excellence every time, with every client.
Sales are not what you get through to get to the work. It is the first step in delivery for your consulting business. During contracting, you and your client come to an agreement on business objectives and how you will partner to achieve goals. This phase of the work is when you win both business AND establish trust and a peer-to-peer relationship.
Once you establish a solid partnership, you're ready to do the work. Success in this part of the cycle is all about taking an independent perspective on the organization you're serving, which is the only way to be a true instrument of change. It all starts with conducting the organizational assessment.
Once you understand the root causes of the challenges you see, you'll move to Solution Design and Delivery. This step is all about creating processes, tools, coalitions, etc., to solve organizational issues. Solution Design and Delivery is the bread and butter of what you offer as a consulting business. It is the vehicle by which you facilitate change.
Most consultants are so excited to get the work done that this final step may take a back seat. It's critical to measure the results of your intervention. If you want to leave a company in a place to continually improve—and help them create a culture of improvement—setting up a system to measure these results is critical.
In addition to this being important to the client, it's also essential for establishing a track record for yourself. It can be tricky to isolate your individual contribution, but tracking and evaluating the organization's results is the first step. Some consultants discover unexpected things in this phase. You may produce value that you didn't expect! The results of the measurement phase might make you stop and think, "Maybe my brand isn't what I think it is."
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