30 Aug, 2010 | by

The following article is an extension of The Resilient Consultant (Part 1 of 2):  Five Steps to bounce back from failure.  It’s a logical spin-off to cover what I believe to be an extremely vital topic, which will most assuredly help you obtain some perspective.  It will provide five key steps to minimizing future engagement failures and protect your personal brand in the process.  I’d like to point out that these steps go beyond a standard methodology for managing an engagement.  There are plenty of materials out there that cover that space, so you won’t find that here.  What you will find are proactive steps an individual can take across the full range of the sales life cycle, from pursuit to execution, that better position him or her for success.

However, just like any other methodology, the following guidance will not guarantee that you never encounter a bad engagement again.  In fact, I suggest that you accept the absolute certainty that you will be confronted with bad engagements at some point, so please save yourself the suspense.  Some of the most dramatic personal growth I’ve achieved in my career has come directly from bad projects.  Don’t be afraid of the challenge; embrace it.  Just be mentally prepared to take on anything and get ready to adapt.  continue reading »

28 Feb, 2010 | by

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My heart was beating through my chest, and my mind racing.  The same thought kept replaying over and over again within my cerebral cortex:  “I’m not prepared for this meeting.  How did I allow myself to get into this situation”?  After my colleague and I entered the client’s palatial office, I calmly sat down and distributed the packet of information that we would be reviewing.  I was confident with the early part of the presentation but was struck with an escalating sense of foreboding as the conversation progressed.  His eyes said it all, but his words would remove any doubt:  “I was expecting something very different.  I am now stuck in the unenviable position of having to make a difficult decision…Either postpone tomorrow’s board meeting, yet again, or trust that this presentation will be properly fixed by tomorrow morning”.  His comments, coupled with my senior colleague’s less than stellar support, shook me to my very core.  I was thrown under the proverbial bus, and I knew there was no coming back from it.  Less than two weeks into a new engagement, I was surreptitiously rolled off the client.  Just like that…I was done. 

Never in my career had I experienced such a profound sense of failure and anger, in both myself and the project’s leadership team.  I cannot put into words just how deeply my confidence had been shaken.   In many cases, a consultant’s effectiveness is directly tied to his ability to exude confidence.  Had I lost my Mojo?  Had my personal brand been tarnished?  How could I recover from something like this? continue reading »

17 Jun, 2009 | by

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I’m frequently asked by friends, family, clients, job candidates and random people I encounter on my travels what it’s like to work on the advisory side of a Big 4 firm.  Typically, if there’s time to discuss and there’s mutual interest in the exchange, I’m immediately bombarded with a slew of follow-up questions like:  What do you do exactly?  How does one get into that line of work?  How much do you travel?  Is it a good career path?  Is there such a thing as work-life balance?  Is it challenging?  Do you think I’d be good at it?  And so on…

The reason I’m so consistently willing to discuss my perspective with so many people, especially young professionals, is that I was once in their position and had many of the same questions.  When I received answers to my inquiries from people in the profession, many of whom continue to this day to be my friends, I was intrigued.  After some time contemplating the potential challenges that such a job would offer, I decided to pursue a chance opportunity to join the ranks of Ernst & Young LLP.  I’ve been with the firm almost three years now.  Looking back, I feel as though the six years of professional experience I had accumulated prior to joining E&Y, although invaluable on many levels, simply did not hold a candle to the client exposure, professional networks and shear rapid-fire experiences afforded to me in my present capacity.  I must confess, however, that this outlook reflects how I feel today, which wasn’t always the case.  Reaching this point has taken an immense amount of patience, hard work, resilience, ambition, and even a little luck.  Yes…I said luck. 

To be clear, this article has not been written under the guise of any Big Four recruiters.  Its goal is not to solicit top talent or self-promote services offered or whatever other angles you might have running through your head right now.  I respect all of the Big Four firms, especially mine, a great deal but feel that the only way to offer up a truly unbiased perspective on the lifestyle is to provide genuinely candid insight.  The primary purpose of this article is to offer a balanced perspective to those who may be interested in such a career path regardless of industry focus or subject matter area.  continue reading »

26 Feb, 2009 | by
Topics: Marketing, Sales

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 1.     The easiest way to get what you want (i.e. a client’s money) is to give them what they want – or need. Whose money is it anyway?? It’s all about them, their company, their problems, their fears, their needs, their threats and their wants. Research your audience, personalise your pitch by using relevant case studies and only use admissible and appropriate language and jargon. Only talk about yourself and your company, when relating how your qualifications, experience and abilities can help them get what or where they want.

2.     Find out what they want – where they are and where they want to be. Listen aggressively and ask questions. Pay attention to what they say – ask questions to gain more detail or to check that you have really received what they have broadcast, summarise back to them your understanding of their situation, take notes, use their names. Prescription without diagnosis is pants!

3.     Treat people like people – People buy from people they like and trust, especially with the declining trust in that corporate logo on your business card!!! Don’t rush in and knock people over – assess and respect the speed and mood of your audience. Be in the room, employ attentive eye contact, and switch off your Blackberry! Focus on being a human who can help. Long-term loyalty is built up by real long term commitment – relationships count, especially in a credit crunch. (Pitch productivity success rates are great for managers, rubbish for pitch teams – focus on gaining or retaining happy trusting clients one at a time – the numbers and the ratios will look after themselves.) The risk/reward ratios of the client are what you should be focusing on – your impact on them, their career and their organisation is much more than just the project investment or your fee structure. It is where you as a professional could take them, their organisation or their career. ROI and a trusting relationship are a very strong pair. continue reading »