As a top solutions provider, the last thing you may be thinking of is hiring and working with a consultant yourself. But maybe you should move that item up higher on your priority list. Even though you’re the professional who works with your customers and vendors day in and day out, you can find value in some fresh insight.
If you are going to grow and prosper as a Super VAR, you must constantly replenish your own well of knowledge. Take the steps to learn from others – like sales strategists, marketing consultants, and business development professionals – and then apply that knowledge to creating and delivering innovative solutions for your customers. If you continue to offer the same ideas over and over again, eventually your customers are going to realize you don’t have much else to offer – the one-trick pony – and they will find someone who will.
Continuing to learn and stay at the forefront of ideas is key to continued success, and turning to some of the consultants you use on a regular basis is a great way to check the pulse of the economy and the world outside of your inner circle. You can begin a conversation about marketing ideas with a consultant and turn the conversation to his business. Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out what a marketing consultant is doing to grow his own business? What else could business and marketing consultants provide you? Do they give you great ideas that you don’t implement? If so, why not? Is it lack of time or resources? Or aren’t you buying into those ideas with the conviction you need to take the next step?
In today’s economy, most small business owners are splashing about in uncharted waters. They don’t have the ability to look at past successes and failures and then mirror future plans and strategies based on them. But what they do have is each other – and the knowledge from outside resources. What you may learn from one consultant could be tailored to work for your customers as well. Knowledge is power. Here are a few things to think about as you work with your own consultants and partners, in order to develop new ideas and solutions for your customers:
- Learn from professionals outside of your industry. Ask these pros what they’re doing to create new business and find new clients. For example, a marketing pro tells you she hosts a monthly breakfast for both her existing customers and then requests each one of those customers was to bring along a colleague. At the end of the breakfast – where she discusses a timely topic of interest to this group – she offers a white paper to the attendees which discusses the findings in-depth. In order to obtain this information, attendees must give their contact information, so they also become a part of the marketing pro’s growing list of leads on her e-newsletter permission-based subscription list. How can you do that with your customers? This one idea that came from someone outside of your industry can easily be applied to your world as well, allowing you to capture new leads and new business as the economy begins to recover.
- If someone gives you sound advice, take it and use it. Advice and ideas that come from someone outside of your world are sometimes even better than from within it. They offer a fresh view or different approach to a sometimes common problem. However, if a consultant is showing you multiple PowerPoint presentations and preaching to you why you should or could be doing something differently, ask for proof as to why it worked. Do they have first-hand knowledge with results to support the idea’s ROI? If a marketing person is recommending that you invest in a website, blog, and Facebook page, but doesn’t have one herself, you might want to find someone with more experience to guide you. On the other hand, if she is the king of social media, and has the platform to prove it, then listen closely and use the knowledge to your benefit!
In order to stay ahead of the competition today, you must continue to look for new ideas to build your business and your customer relationships. One way to do that is by tapping into the thought process of other business leaders and consultants who work outside of your field, and then applying that knowledge to your own constituency. Being a knowledge expert is extremely important. You must find ways to keep your bucket of knowledge full at all times.