Previous posts outlined how Marketing and Sales (M&S) advisory services generated incremental billings for a prominent TM firm, the processes they used to generate those billings, and how other TM firms could do the same. This post covers how TM firms can ensure that M&S services are profitable if they choose to deploy them.
The biggest profit challenge for a TM firm choosing to deploy M&S advisory services is: generating enough M&S cases and billings to cover the consulting costs needed for an M&S practice.
The approaches to overcoming that challenge are: increasing M&S cases and managing M&S practice costs.
Increasing the Number of Cases with M&S Applications
Workout cases that have initial stakeholder interest in and budgets for M&S consulting are rare. Yet, workout cases that can benefit from improved top-line, marketing and, or sales force effectiveness are common. To bridge the gap between interest and reality, a TM firm needs to pique the interest of their potential client in M&S services during the pitch and proposal process. While this was the subject of a previous post, the method to pique client interest is to assure them that a turnaround engagement can be much more than a financial process; a turnaround can be an exercise in top-line renewal. By taking this approach, the prominent TM firm cited above found that while applicable cases for M&S services never quite became the majority, they did become much more frequent than “rare”.
Measuring M&S Services’ Total Firm Contributions is a Key to Profitability
If a TM firm deploys M&S services correctly, M&S services will differentiate the firm and in so doing help that firm to secure cases that that it would not have normally won. Some of those incremental cases will not even have any M&S billing. However, since the M&S services were still the key factor in securing the client, the case profits should be “credited” towards the profitability of the M&S practice.
Strategies for Keeping M&S Costs Down
Using M&S Practice Professionals for Internal Firm Marketing and Business Development
Concurrent to working client cases, an M&S consultant should perform internal firm marketing and sales services including: PR, event planning and management, content management strategies, sales collateral material development, contact database management, outbound email marketing, web-site management among other services. If these services are being performed by outside agencies, they may be able to be brought inside the firm at a considerable savings to the firm.
Outsourcing M&S Services
While having a permanent internal M&S consultant is usually the recommended strategy, there are a number of outsourcing strategies that can be deployed for a firm to manage its costs. These outsourcing strategies include forming alliances with M&S service firms like MRA (Michael Roth Advisors), or with M&S networking groups like MENG (The Marketing Executive Networking Group). While these two outsourcing strategies are feasible and cost effective, they do come with the risk of potentially not having an appropriate, quality assured M&S resource on hand at the precise time it is needed. Moreover, by not having an M&S resource on hand permanently, it is much harder for that firm to publicize and market the offering and, or to daily leverage those services on applicable cases.
M&S advisory can help a firm to secure and to hold onto highly profitable implementation cases. Not offering these services is tantamount to leaving significant revenues “on the table”. Yet, deploying M&S services does entail risk. It is hoped that this post and others offered a pathway to mitigating that risk and to building firm revenues with M&S advisory services.