By Paul Cronin
When you’re building a house, you count on your contractor not just to provide a service, but also as a strategic connection: “Hey, do you know somebody who could take care of this other aspect of the project too?” You judge the contractor’s value not just by their technical skill but by how reliable their connections are, and how thoroughly they help you reach your goals.
No one consultant, actuarial or otherwise, can do it all anymore. There are just too many needs, new developments (technological ones especially!) and services out there to be able to provide everything to your clients. Yet most consultants have only shallow partnerships with other firms: “I use John for Web services, I met Susan at a conference for social media, I call on Ted for financial advice—and those few collaborators are typically considered good enough.” And that does get a lot of consultants by, if barely.
Given the complexities of different industries, creating trusted partnerships with other consultants and service-providers that complement your actuarial expertise and allow you to expand outside of your own core competencies is critical. Remember that we all have one very special thing in common: our client.
Becoming a “facilitator of excellence,” i.e., recommender of A-1 vendors to your own clients, will both better you as a professional as well as positively impact your bottom line. Let’s examine just the business benefits and ROI potential of a partner collaborative business model.
In the traditional sales methodology, most consultants engage with their clients to understand how their solutions can match a client’s initiatives. When offerings and needs align, sometimes there’s a sale or contract. This formula is exemplified as:
(A-D solutions) X (client appointments) X (% of client needs) = $ (revenue generated)
Typically, consultants in this traditional model do not work to build or leverage client relationships in order to understand and penetrate higher and wider within the client organization. In this model, consultants not only leave the door wide open for their more relationship-focused competition, they also fail to provide strong strategic value to the client or to their own business. Plus they attain fewer client touch points and, in the end, generate less dollar revenue per client interaction than their competitors that invest in partnerships, and thus commit themselves to being a true facilitator of excellence.
But a partner-collaborative business model offers consultants the resources and opportunity to transform themselves into full-scale solution providers. The solution set available to your clients is expanded from what you can do all by yourself to also include what you and your partners can do collectively.Now the chance of matching a solution to a client need is multiplied by the number of partners and the numbers of solutions they deliver, and the opportunity for a sale at each client interaction is dramatically increased. The Partner Centric Solution Partner formula is exemplified as:
(A-D solutions) + ( X Partner Solutions) X ( ^ client appointments) X (^ % of client needs) = $$$ (revenue generated)
Consultants in this model leverage the client relationship to penetrate higher and wider in a client organization, shut out the competition, provide strategic value to the business by being the one trusted person to call, attain many more client touch points and in the end generate greater revenue.The value of partnerships can also include working collaboratively on joint marketing materials, sharing clients and doing joint events with shared costs. I know several consultants who have also shared best practices and leveraged engineering resources.
The best way to go to market is to become a facilitator of the market. Are you ready to unfreeze your mind and make an executive shift? Strong partnerships literally pay off by enabling you to become something more than you could be only on your own. You move beyond being “merely” your client’s trusted advisor and now become an even more valuable strategic advisor instead.
Paul Cronin is a facilitator of excellence, as exemplified through his thought leadership and his participation on multiple boards across converging industries and technologies (including security, AV, voice, networking, storage, applications and managed services). Paul is a partner at Atrion Networking Corporation and serves as the senior vice president. Learn more about Paul through LinkedIn or his organization at www.atrion.net.