#8: The subject matter expert

We have now looked at the three Key Challenges – Credibility, Behaviours and Attributes and Lead Generation. We can now move on to look at the first of the potential business models you can adopt, namely Subject Matter Expert.

There is an understandable suspicion and mistrust of the “Jack of all trades”. One way of countering this is coming up with a single product or service, which can be flexibly applied and cleverly promoted. This in itself can permit a range of approaches:

  • Do you want to establish yourself as an “industry guru” who can help a particular sector? I know consultants who have focused their efforts on lawyers, accountants, retail, IT, insurance and so on.
  • Do you want to be perceived as an expert practitioner in a single discipline? Again, I know consultants who have focused on business development/sales, branding-building, purchasing, finance etc.
  • Or do you want to combine the two e.g. help accountants with business development?

All three of these approaches can be successful. The advantage of creating a “niche” market is that whilst smaller, you can usually command higher fees. If you opt for a more generalist approach, you naturally have a much bigger market to exploit, but will probably have to settle for lower fees.

I will leave you with three ideas to reflect on, based on what I have observed over the last ten years or so:

1. You need to make it easy for your prospects to “get it” – how clearly articulated is your message?, as any confusion in the mind of the prospect increases the risk of no sale. I heard a great quote at a leadership workshop – “if there’s mist in the pulpit there’s fog in the pews” (Thank you Mark Fritz)

2. To what extent are your skills portable across industries/sectors? That might determine which approach you take.

3. Will you be 100% advisory (i.e. pure consultant), 100% operational, or a hybrid of the two?

Next time we will look at the role of the Change Agent.

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