The importance of focus for consultancy success


Where a consultancy looks for revenue is an indication of the level of focus. This is best done by identifying and focusing on a particular group of people or organizations with specified needs that your proposition addresses (a ‘needs group’). A needs group is often defined by a particular industry or sector and it is usually the case that a consultancy is easier to sell if it has a specific industry focus. However, the needs group could be industry independent, for example you may target senior executives requiring leadership training across different sectors.

Focusing on specific needs groups simplifies and clarifies where marketing activity is directed, intellectual property is developed and expertise deepened. A consultancy that has a razor-sharp focus will look for business within a specific needs group and will not market outside that group. By concentrating on work where you have a ‘right to win’, there is more likelihood of winning the work and by only taking on work that aligns with the strategic aims of the business, the value of the business is more likely to increase.

In all needs groups there are issues that have been established for some time; there are current topics which are hot and need to be addressed quickly; and there are future trends which are just emerging and which will require action soon. A weak proposition will be perceived by clients as being generic and not focused on their specific needs. A base level proposition will be seen as addressing well-established needs; an advanced proposition will address current hot topics; and a more advanced proposition will also address emerging trends. The most valuable proposition of all will lead clients to perceive the business as being the thought-leaders for their needs group and the go-to experts.

An example of a proposition indicating underlying thought leadership and specific expertise might be the ability to facilitate regulatory-driven change in the banking sector, requiring deep sector knowledge and specific knowledge of the regulatory impact, in addition to the broader ability to implement change.

If you are a start-up consultancy, it is not unusual for you to take work wherever you can get it – you have to eat! As the business grows, however, it becomes increasingly important to develop focus in order to drive growth and maximize attractiveness to future buyers.

It is worth regularly reviewing your consultancy’s focus to ensure that you are concentrating efforts on the clients and sectors where you have the most right to win. Effort spread too thinly will lead to your offer being less attractive to both clients and potential consultancy buyers.

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