The Predicament We Face in 2014

February 2014 - - Did you cross the chasm and get stuck in the snow on the other side? This commentary is aimed at consulting firms, marketers and anyone else selling complex services that are having trouble reaching out to prospective customers, reeling them in, and signing them up.  

The market has changed.  We don’t like it but that’s the fact.   So my reference to Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm and my comment about the snow in Boston this winter is really an observation about how hard it is to get customers these days.  What I’m really asking is this:
  • Is your firm having trouble reaching new prospects?
  • Do you know why you are different from your competitors and do your prospects recognize it?
  • When you are fortunate enough to arrange meetings, do those meetings advance beyond the talking stage toward a useful project?
  • Are you and your partners skilled at closing new business?


There’s been a dramatic change in the way we capture new customers.  Frankly, it’s much harder to get an audience now, partly because of more competition from small firms launched by downsized executives. Everyone who lost his job is now a consultant and as a result, buyers have a hard time grasping the relationship between quality, quantity, and price.

There’s another problem too, and that’s the limited interest that many consultants or service providers have in the job of selling their services. 

Finally, the market is there but buyers are overworked and over-messaged.  The challenge is finding buyers, getting an audience and reeling them in.


After a successful early career with IBM, Dun and Bradstreet and Citibank, I’ve worked for over twenty years as a consultant helping clients tackle a wide range of issues to build their businesses.  About a year ago I was approached to help build a service for driving growth in marketing firms and consultancies. 

I’m happy to report that our results have been dramatic, delivering several significant prospects monthly to firms that had no success on their own, even after bringing on dedicated sales staff.  

There are three keys to our success:

  • We focus on specific problems that buyers might recognize and respond to.
  • We engage them with campaigns to grab their attention.
  • We know how to identify prospects and contact them by phone, engaging prospects in meaningful conversation to surface problems and create interest.
This is a classic example of how Marketing and Sales, when joined at the hip, can be extremely productive.


It’s essential for me to work closely with the Partners and Principals in a consulting or marketing firm so that we can effectively demonstrate their value and capabilities and close the business.  We carefully prepare for calls, setting expectations for how to move ahead, planning who says what and how, and thinking through how to respond to hard questions.  I typically double-team calls at first to transfer selling skills and to give my clients the best chance to reel that customer in.


We hear their frustration every day and so do you.  After all, once you’ve jumped the chasm and your business has successfully launched, customers are supposed to find you, aren’t they? Isn‘t that why you worked so hard to cross that chasm?

Years ago, “customers finding you” was much more likely to happen.  Rainmakers relied on word of mouth, referrals, articles, conferences, business cards and showing up in search results - - and all those methods delivered new business.  There was little competition for those with successful case studies to share.  That was then; this is now.


Here’s what I suggest.  Find out how your firm is generating new business leads and how well the process is working.  Assess how well your Partners and Principals are prepared to engage with business prospects.  Are they expert at demonstrating capability during the first meeting - - enough to put your firm into the #1 contender spot for the job?

If you’re not happy with what you find out then let’s talk.  Our clients have benefited significantly from our ability to engage with key executives so skillfully that our client’s image and brand are stronger, all while signing up new customers.

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