For some prospects trust is built by demonstrating
your years of experience in the industry, but others may
want to know you’re an industry outsider. One prospect
may feel that adding extra analysts lowers the risk of
missing a deadline, whereas another prospect may want
fewer people on your team causing disruption.
What about testimonials, your pedigree, scorecards
on previous projects and other contributors to credibility? You should absolutely develop all of those and keep
them in your toolkit. However, remember that some
prospects will be swayed by testimonials, whereas others may need more extensive evidence (e.g., a pilot project). It all depends. And that’s why I’ll reiterate:
discovery is your key to becoming the obvious choice.
Who’d the Watchmaker Choose?
The CEO of a large watch manufacturer in New England told me he brought in a consultant on a major,
multi-million-dollar engagement. The final three firms
he considered were:
• Acme, a global firm he had worked with before that typically did a passable job;
•Breakthrough Group, a dynamic, innovative, boutique
consulting firm that offered extremely aggressive (a.k.a.
• ERP Associates a midsize firm that specialized in the
watchmaker’s exact issue.
The CEO chose Acme. Even though that consultancy
wasn’t the most experienced with his issue, or the least
expensive, or the firm with the smartest people.
Here’s what the CEO told me about the decision: “Da-
vid, I trusted that Acme could do the job. I’d worked
with them before, and even though I knew they weren’t
the very best, I knew they could do it and wouldn’t let
That’s the power of trust, and that’s why building re-
lationships and conducting the discovery process you’ll
learn in the next two chapters is imperative. If you want
to win a project with, say, Yuri Yusimi at Sereus Dough,
Inc., you don’t have to be the best; you don’t have to be
the cheapest; you certainly don’t have to be the biggest.
You have to be the consultant he trusts most.
Beyond Trust: More Drivers of Choice
Below are other, influential factors involved in a cli-
ent’s selection of a consultant for his initiative. You’ll
quickly realize most of the factors interact in some way
with Trust or Value or Like. The factors we’ll cover
• Situation Expertise
• Outcome Expertise
• Willingness to Push Back
• Project-Specific Criteria
Yusimi (like most clients) first looks for consultants
who have experience in his industry, with problems that
look like the one he’s trying to solve, and with companies that appear similar to Sereus Dough. The consultant with the strongest credentials in those three areas
will always be a front runner.
“You will help me” is one of the three points on the
Trust Triangle because that’s at the root of what clients
are looking for: a favorable outcome. Since many clients believe they know the best approach to solve their
problem, they look for the consultant that is most facile
in that approach.
Being the most responsive consultant can absolutely
win you a project. When a prospect calls three consultants
and one calls back immediately and the others wait for a
day or two, who do you think has a major leg up? Clients
rightly assume that your responsiveness to them and their