The New Consultant: Redesigning Outreach Model with Old Fashioned Sales Techniques
When business experts and the media projected the rise of employment consulting and focused on it as an emerging industry model, many began to set their sights on elaborate titles, freedom and ultimate time control. As we approached the new millennium leading publications, including Business Week, projected double digit growth of the consulting profession in under five years. The magnetic draw to the employment consulting field encompassed a range of attractive reasons including creative freedom, economic growth opportunities, no concrete/glass ceiling issues, better time management et al.
Corporate downsizing and extensive layoffs provided the groundswell for many employment consulting operations to launch. Also, large companies benefit greatly by dropping key employees. They could rehire them as employment consultants, thus saving on training new hires and employee benefit costs. Employment consulting was one of the fastest growing professions in the 1990s and continues to lead the professional path at the start of the second decade of the new millennium.
The factors including increased corporate downsizing, small business growth and emerging industries continue to benefit the consulting boom. However, are consultants who have been in the game for a while still psyched about the initial “perks” of the profession? Does the current economic climate bode well for employment consulting and the consulting profession? According to Technical Consultant Dwayne Warlock, consulting is still a lucrative industry, but the current climate should make any newcomers cautious and seasoned ones careful. “Working for yourself has pluses and minuses and it is crucial to understand that being your own boss gives you freedom, but also limitations.” Warlock adds, “You are at the ‘beck and call’ of your clients and your ‘free time’ can often be used up to address their needs.” Employment consultants, even in growing industries such as technology and healthcare, are still facing challenges as businesses are cutting back or closing down thus forcing these emerging entrepreneurs to not only “think outside the box”, but also “keep it real.” “I often find myself working more hours and having to be more creative in the services and arrangements,” notes Warlock. “I have been putting my customers on retainers and keeping their rates the same although I am often putting in more time, but these are customers who have been there for me and set the standard for new clients.”
Establishing a strong customer base to get your employment consulting, or any consulting business, through the rough times is vital to survival until the economy turns around. “If you are consulting, then you have to believe that the economy will turn around and you can see the opportunities down the road,” says Warlock. “We know that there are still rough times ahead and that many potential clients are holding on to their funds for a while longer just to be on the safe side. However, staying visible, supporting loyal customers and providing quality service will increase outreach and generate business.”
In this era of high tech gadgets such as I-Pods and Blackberries and paperless communications, the new consultant must use old fashioned customer service and sales techniques to survive in this economy and to successfully generate business and maintain a long term client base.
Mereday is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine.