Discussion forum for members of the Massachusetts Bay Organizational Development Learning Group

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Three Workshops with Alan Weiss, Ph.D., CMC, President, Summit Consulting

Institute of Management Consultants
New England Consultants Conference 2006
Three Workshops with Alan Weiss, Ph.D., CMC, President, Summit Consulting

Watching Alan is enormously entertaining, inspirational, and grounding. He is very funny (usually in a self-deprecating way that slips into glibness only occasionally), and he uses stories to great advantage to anchor his sensible and pithy points. I’d recommend seeing him whenever you get the chance; and, by all means, be sure to ask him questions! He’s very generous with his attention.

Here are the notes I promised the ODLG based on winning the drawing at our March meeting, at which I won a ticket to the April 7 IMCNE Consultants Convention, allowing me to attend Alan’s keynote and workshops.

  • Barbara Bates

    Building A Million Dollar Practice – Keynote
    Alan Weiss, Ph.D., CMC, President, Summit Consulting

    Business is about marketing, it’s pragmatic (what do they get of value from you).
    “Get lots of irons in lots of fires.” Alan is not a fan of niche marketing: “The more you niche yourself and narrow your focus, the more you narrow your opportunities.”

    It’s about self-esteem: you are approaching people because you have value people need. Use that value to motivate yourself and let it flow

    - Talk about how your clients are better off from working with you.
    - Be fearless
    - Be provocative, push back
    - Give off a vibe of success (dress at least as well as client or better.) Look like a seven figure consultant: wear the Armani and use the Mont Blanc.
    - Establish a brand as soon as possible so folks search you out and fees are academic.

    Set your sights at the top. Be aggressive. You’re better off failing at a magnificent effort than succeeding at a modest effort.
    - Never do a needs analysis, get going (you’ll find it out as you go.)
    - It’s not about perfection; it’s about success. When you are 80% ready, go! The last 20% is not worth it.

    Psychologically, buyers buy on the basis of emotion, so make an emotional connection. Establish a relationship.
    - Buyers have egos and if you under-change, they will undervalue you.
    - Charge high fees to build a business (sweat equity in making a $10,000 sale is the same as $100,000 sale.)
    - Promise significant value and deliver it.

    How to handle objections: You have nothing to lose, so push back!
    You already know every objection they might have, so use some linguistic judo:
    - They say, “But you’re a solo practitioner!” So you respond, “Yes, that’s exactly why you need me!”
    o You close your mouth, and wait while they gape at you for the two-second standard silence. They will then sputter, “What do you mean?” This reverses the energy of the conversation.
    o You then respond, “Well, you’ll get my full attention.”
    - They say, “We plan to do it in house.” You say, “Why do it so expensively!”(They are taking people off what they are doing, the product will be tainted by in-fighting, you wont get honest feedback, politics will slow you down…)
    - They start talking jargon. You say, “If you keep talking like that, you’ll be out of business!”
    - They tell you they’ve just grown 15% compounded annually and ask what makes you think you can add value. You say, “How do you know it shouldn’t have been 34%?”

    Notes by Barbara Bates

    Institute of Management Consultants
    New England Consultants Conference 2006

    Penetrating Large Corporate Enterprises - Workshop
    Alan Weiss, Ph.D., CMC, President, Summit Consulting

    More fun with Alan--- he’s really warmed up and focused in this second workshop!

    Small businesses are extraordinarily irrational (especially family businesses!) It’s easier to do business with a large company.

    Three kinds of large businesses:
    - Resident and does business in US
    - Resident and does business overseas
    - Resident overseas and does business in the US

    Do business with large companies that
    - Are successful (that’s where the money is; don’t take clients in trouble since stupid management makes bad decisions)
    - Have used consultants before
    - Have a need for your value proposition / product.

    You are never dealing with an entity, you are dealing with a person --- find the person, the buyer! A buyer is someone who can write a check for your services.
    - Figure out who buys
    - Cold calls don’t work (works 1 in 10,000 times), because people don’t buy from folks they don’t know.
    - Learn what buyers read, and write & advertise there.
    - Learn where buyers go (associations) and go there.
    - The more you network, speak, and write, the more irons you have in the fire.
    - Alan claims to be an introvert who doesn’t socialize and avoids “the luncheon thing” at conferences like this IMC NE Consultants Conference.
    - Alan simply writes and speaks about controversial subjects (he will disagree with anything he can with which he can reasonably do so.)

    Alan’s Platinum Method for Finding Prospects: word of mouth references (your Brand is your Name)
    - Be sure to ask everyone you know for referrals at least three times per year.(Say, “Here’s my value proposition. Can you use it? Do you know someone who can use it?”)
    - When working a contract, ask for referrals about 2/3 of the way through the project (NOT at the end when you’re out of sight, out of mind!)
    - About 95% of Alan’s business comes from renewals and referrals; only 5% comes out of thin air. About half of the 95% was generated from Alan asking for the referral.

    If clients wont or don’t give you referrals:
    - My existing clients who give me referrals always have priority.
    - You want me to give you referrals, reciprocate!
    - If you want to use me again, know that I need money to stay in business…

    If you’re just getting started:
    - Write a book for a commercial imprint like John Wiley & Sons
    - Do pro bono work to get referrals from important / influential people.
    - Don’t get known for a thing; get known for a result.

    Have one page on your web site with 15 references. Prospects wont call any of them! (If you list three, they’ll call each of them.)

    When you call the referral:
    - Don’t go in with a product pitch
    - Never ask about problems
    - Do say something like, “Paul told me that if you and I spend 20 minutes together it will be dynamite. When can we meet?”
    - Do build a relationship (peer to peer) to build trust (this may take 3 or 4 20-minute meetings.)
    - Do read the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, etc. to be able to deal with a wide variety of topics since it is “intellectual firepower” that impresses.
    - If the person is a buyer, establish that you’re smart, well versed, successful, a high value guy/gal.
    o Engage in conversation (light at first, “How about that Big Dig!”)
    o Strong people hire strong people; weak people hire weak people.

    The Gold Standard for Finding Prospects:
    - A commercially published book (Harper Collins, McGraw-Hill, etc.)
    - Don’t have to sell a lot.
    - It gets you in the door.

    The Silver Standard for Finding Prospects: a track record of work with recognized firms.

    Overseas Work
    - Today it’s relatively simple to promote work from the US using electronic media.
    - There is a correlation of receptivity to distance (Hong Kong will host you if you say you’ll be in town from Boston, but New York wont even make time to meet with you!)

    Tips (answers to questions from the audience):
    - Getting speaking gigs: look up trade associations and their membership.
    o Speak at the Fisheries Convention --- it’s process not content!
    o Write to the Executive Director: “I’m interested in speaking at your conference. Here are some outcomes for your members (list 3 or 4 bullets.) Here are my credentials (why I’m good.) I’ve enclosed my press kit. I’ll call you on Tuesday at 10 AM.”
    o Then call and say, “I’m calling as promised.”
    - Leverage your speaking engagements: Once you get a speaking engagement, call prospects in the area, and explain, “I’m in town for a speaking engagement and want to meet.”

    - How to compensate folks for referrals etc.:
    o If you give me a referral: 5% of my business fee
    o If you introduce me: 10% of my business fee
    o If you close the sale for me: 20% of my business fee.
    o Acquisition is the hardest job and gets the biggest share of the proceeds (50%); Methods gets 30%, and delivery gets 20%.

    - Key to getting commercially published:
    o Have something to say
    o Write a winning proposal (there is a formula for this, Alan says it’s on his web site.)
    o Get an agent (ask someone who has a good agent for the agent’s name.)

    Bottom line: “If you think you can do this or if you think you can’t --- you’re right!”

    Notes by Barbara Bates

    Institute of Management Consultants
    New England Consultants Conference 2006

    Proposals That Win Business - Workshop
    Alan Weiss, Ph.D., CMC, President, Summit Consulting

    Still more fun with Alan--- he’s really cruising in this third workshop!

    Proposals are summations, not explorations.
    - They are based on conceptual agreement regarding
    o Objectives
    o Measurables / metrics (can be anecdotal)
    o Value (the impact on the organization, de facto ROI)
    o Nowhere are “deliverables!”

    - Always offer option --- a choice of yeses moves the buyer from “should I do this?” to “How should I do this?”
    - Proposals are about 2 and a half pages; size doesn’t matter (no resumes etc.)
    o Always use high quality stationery, embossed folders, tactile.
    o Always Fed Ex the proposal.
    o If they want email, do it and follow-up with the hard copy.

    - There are 9 parts to a proposal”

    1) Situation appraisal (about 2 paragraphs): describes why we are talking, “You are entering a new phase since you must now compete…”
    2) Objectives (3 to 5) that we agreed for this project (worded as outcomes.)
    3) Measures (3 to 5 bullets) will tell us we are making progress.
    4) Value in achieving these objectives (bullets naming monetary or non-monetary return like stress-reduction.)
    5) Methodology: at least 3 options for achieving the objectives; does specify some tangibles, but does not focus on “deliverables.”
    6) Timing (couple of sentences) explaining that we can start 30 days after you accept, and outlining the duration for each option (e.g. option one takes 3 months…)
    7) Joint Accountabilities:
    a. I’m responsible for…
    b. You are responsible for making key people and documents available, providing office space and secretarial support for me, etc.; and
    c. We are jointly responsibility for… (E.g. “We will immediately inform each other of anything we find that can materially affect this project.” This means that if an employee of a client approaches Alan and says they need him to keep something in confidence, he says, “I need to let you know I have this agreement…”)

    8) Terms & Conditions: this is the first time the client sees the fee, and it is in the context of value that is provided
    a. Fees: List the fee for each option. Alan never quotes or gives ballpark fees without a proposal. He simply tells them he doesn’t know what it will cost and will have a proposal to them the next day. Alan never negotiates fees (If they ask, he says, “Is that what you do with your customers?” If they say, “Yes,” he responds, “That’s why you need me!”)
    b. Terms: 50% on acceptance; 50% in 45 days (i.e. before the end of the project.) Never get paid on completion. If client says, “We have procedures,” respond, “So do I.” Alan will negotiate terms (e.g. 50% on acceptance, 25% in 30 days, 25% in 45 days… always before completion though.)
    c. Tips:
    i. Offer a 10% discount if paid in advance (corporations may have policies requiring them to take advantage of discounts; and once they have paid, they wont cancel the project.)
    ii. Get paid in advance for speeches.
    iii. Alan adds 50% for work in Europe, and 100% markup for Pacific Rim work.
    iv. Expenses are charged as accrued every day each month and due on presentation. Alan bills clients for planes, trains, rental cars etc. as if they were the medium/coach fares, but then he travel first class (paying the difference himself.)
    9) Acceptance: This line states that by signing this page, they indicate their acceptance of a particular option. It also states, “By providing me with a check, you indicate your acceptance of this project.” This is Alan’s way of avoiding having to have the “contract” go through the legal department.

    Tips (answers to questions from the audience):
    - If the client asks you to sign a contract, get a lawyer to review it.
    - E&O and Liability Insurance are required.
    - Never respond to a blind RFP (unless you already have a relationship.)
    - Circumvent RFP process by being a sole source (a commercially published book); it’s the price of intellectual property.
    - In competitive bids, governments accept the highest value, not the lowest cost bid.
    - Combating scope creep: say, “Of course I’ll do it, but first I’ll create a new proposal for it.” Then stick to the requirement that they accept the new proposal before you start on the extra work.
    - Alan’s fees show at least a 10 to 1 annualized return. 3 to 1 is fine too. Fees are not based on hours worked, but on value received by the client.
    - While some weaknesses need to be addressed, we grow primarily by building strengths, not correcting weaknesses.

    Bottom Line: “Be bold and brazen --- don’t be afraid to fail and
    if you’re not afraid to fail, you’ll succeed!”

    Notes by Barbara Bates

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

How should OD practitioners think of leadership?

Our April 11 program meeting featured a presentation by Matt Carlen of 7th Wave Solutions on “Remodeling Leadership Performance”. We received numerous stimulating ideas on the role of leadership in organization development.

As usual, the program meeting time could not do justice to the wealth of the “knowledge in the room”. We thus invite Learning Group members and presenters to share their thoughts on leadership. Some specific questions that we might consider would include the following:

· What is the connection between leadership development and OD?

· How should organizations develop leaders?

· What does leadership actually mean?

· How is the capacity for leadership measured?

· How general is the capacity for leadership?