Home > Managing the Business > Brass Tacks: What Really Matters in a Consultancy?

Brass Tacks: What Really Matters in a Consultancy?

As a consulting manager, you’ve got three ways you can approach your job: be a sales partner and drive business, be a talent manager and hire/retain/train the best consultants, or be an operator and focus on process, measurement and delivery tasks.  Most of us, in any job, do all three (sometimes in a single day) but most of us are usually best at one and tend to play to that strength.  At times we have to prioritize one of these areas over the others because of some combination of external factors.

In my current job, the guys that report to me are really, really good in the sales cycle and pretty good operators so I spend a significant amount of time on talent recruiting, performance metrics and internal projects to improve productivity, efficiency and quality.  In fact, I think its fair to say that I’ve spent the majority of my time in the last 2 years in this area.  And, as a result, I’ve discovered something pretty important……none of it matters.

Don’t get me wrong – process and and a continual drive to improve are one of the hallmarks of excellence for a consulting team.  But, despite that, three things are far more important:

Leads, sits and sales.

Let’s face it, folks:  if you don’t sell, you don’t have anything to which your excellent processes can be applied.  And, you can’t sell if you don’t get sits with a prospect.  Of course, you don’t get sits if you don’t get leads that generate that sit.  Ergo sequitur, the most important thing to a consultancy is leads, sits and sales.

So, if you have leads, sits and sales, keep on your approach.  If not, drop everything and get deals closed.  Pretty easy, no?

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  1. Mark Polino
    August 8, 2011 at 8:35 am

    I disagree. As we’ve discussed before, at it’s core, there are only 2 key positions in a consulting organization, sales and delivery. Everything else exists to support those 2. It sounds like you are boiling that down to just sales. Sole operators struggle to grow because they can only concentrate on one of these two tasks at a time. You can have long term delivery with minimal sales, accounting firms do it all the time. You can have sales with minimal delivery. I’m thinking of something like literary or talent agents, not late night pitchmen for shady real estate deals. But neither results in growth. If you want growth, you have to be able to both sell and deliver.


  2. Dwight Specht
    August 10, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    You make my point for me, I think. Its about balance – if all you do is sell and don’t work on continuous process improvement you get lots of new customers that leave quickly. If all you do is work on process, you get the world’s best consulting staff looking at each other across empty conference room tables as the bankruptcy court decides how to close down the company. Both must work well. But, if you are a consulting manager and see sales slowing down there exists only one smart response – get out and help them sell. When the pipeline comes back, go back to the other things. After all, no margin, no mission.

  3. Mark Polino
    August 10, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Agreed, I’m just not sure that I got that out of the post.


  1. August 10, 2011 at 9:09 am

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