All tagged sales

Repeat after me: setting schedule expectations with clients

Very efficient sales teams use the availability of senior consultants to drive deals to closure.   As part of the sales cycle, they ask the client the date of when the project must be finished.  You should subtract the project duration, and then another four to six weeks.   The resulting date is when the client must complete their purchase without risking their schedule.

Answering the most common question asked of Professional Services Managers

Professional Services Managers handle assigning consultants to projects. As a result, one of the most familiar internal emails and questions we receive from sales teams is, "when's the next time a consultant is available?" It is possible to see this request multiple times a week at the start of a quarter, and multiple times an hour towards the end of the quarter. Regardless of the structure of your Professional Services Organization, answering the same question for different people repeatedly throughout the day is entirely avoidable.

Document and validate your assumptions

I recently had to pick my jaw up from my desk during a client kick-off call. While scheduling calls are a blight, kick-off calls for significant engagements are often worthwhile. These meetings serve to make introductions and validate assumptions. We had already agreed with the client on the scheduling via email, and the contract was signed. The shopworn phrase of how assumptions "make an ass of you and me" depends on if the Statement of Work documents the assumption.

Forecasting Bottom Line Profitability at the Professional Services Organization

Most Professional Services managers or directors annually participate in the management accounting exercise of forecasting future billings and profitability. The prevalent model in experience-based Professional Services Organizations (PSO) are time and materials-based billing projects, where charges to the client are based on the actual hours consumed, typically up to a not-to-exceed number. However, the dominant model in an efficiency-based PSO is deliverable-based billing, often at a fixed price. Two distinctly different formulas are required to calculate billings and profitability across these practice areas and billing types.

Strategic Client Portfolio Management for the Professional Services Firm

Strategic client portfolio management is a challenge for most Professional Services firms. As a result, professional services managers at a significant number of firms are just avoiding the topic. This is unfortunate, as it means sales teams and senior partners are pursuing potential and existing clients based solely on their own intuition rather than a systematic assessment. Firms that strategically decide on which clients are the most important for their limited sales and marketing resources have a competitive advantage when compared to spreading these resources too thin.

Standard terms and conditions can still confuse clients

Statement of Work documents are one of the most common contracts a Professional Services Manager will touch in the course of their day. These documents are typically based on a master template that incorporates many common terms, conditions, and assumptions.  These standard terms can confuse potential clients, even well after an engagement has been booked.

Traditionally, Professional Services Key Progress Indicators (KPIs) focus on the financials of the embedded Professional Services Organization or firm. KPIs are useful as a dashboard for understanding and communicating the health of the business, and for decision-making. However, those decisions primarily concern the Professional Services Organization and are of limited interest to the rest of the firm. Bookings, billings, backlog, revenue per region, utilization – these are not top of mind for a sales team.