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  • Christina D. Warner

The Edge on Strategic Communication

Communication is one of the most crucial skill sets for the modern, savvy professional. Without clear and effective communication, you cannot influence, persuade, or build upon ideas. Consultants are trained to communicate effectively and decisively-- in a way that makes it easy to follow their recommendations and train of thought. Whether or not we are in a consultative role, how we communicate is crucial to building our reputation and presence.


In today’s article, we will explore how to talk and write like a consultant.


Part 1: How to Talk Like a Consultant

Talking is a daily part of our job, whether presenting to clients, persuading our peers, or reporting to senior executives. No matter who our audience is, a clear and concise method of communication will help our ideas get through to our audience.


Step 1: Understand the why. What and why are you trying to communicate?

Step 2: Laundry List. Brainstorm your laundry list of topics. What is everything that you want to mention or talk about it?

Step 3: Rule of Three. Group your laundry list into three logical buckets.

Step 4: Supporting Data. Support your three buckets with data and facts.

Step 5: Conclusion. Summarize the objective, the main points, and your recommendation. Finally, end with your call to action or the next steps.


Let’s See This In Action

Step 1: Understand the why. Our client, a technology giant, is looking to increase profits in its cloud SaaS department.


Step 2: Laundry List. What are all the ways we can increase profit? Well, we can lower prices, introduce new products, remove non-performing products, cut costs, increase or strategize marketing and sales spending or introduce new pricing bundles.


Step 3: Rule of Three. Look for common themes. From step 2, I see three key buckets. 1. Product. 2. Price. 3. Company.


Step 4: Supporting Data. Now, add the supporting data in each of the buckets.

  1. Product: Within the product category, I’ve reviewed the company’s cloud-based products and identified the top-performing products and the top non-performing products. Athena Horizon has a 45% market penetration in a growing market, while Icarus only has a 5% market penetration in the same growing market.

  2. Price: Within the price category, we can increase prices, decrease expenses, cross-sell, upsell or provide a price bundle. In our research, clients often ask for follow-up tuning and advisory services with Athena Horizon. We can bundle an advisory component and introduce tiered pricing.

  3. Company: Within the company category, we can cut costs or increase marketing and sales spend. From the data, our marketing and sales budget is only 5% of our total budget.

Step 5: Conclusion. In conclusion, I recommend increasing marketing spend and introducing tiered pricing to bundle Athena Horizon with advisory services. Our next steps are

  1. Work with the product team to determine the feasibility

  2. Work with leadership and contracts to assess price tier

  3. Increase marketing and sales budget to 20% of the company’s budget

Putting it all together

Our client is a technology giant looking to increase profit in its cloud department. To do so, I recommend looking at three main buckets: Product, Price, and Company.

Within the product category, I’ve reviewed the company’s cloud-based products and identified the top-performing products and the top non-performing products. Athena Horizon has a 45% market penetration in a growing market, while Icarus only has a 5% market penetration in the same growing market.


Within the price category, we can increase prices, decrease prices, cross-sell, upsell or provide a price bundle. In our research, clients often ask for follow-up tuning and advisory services with Athena Horizon. We can bundle an advisory component and introduce tiered pricing.


Within the company category, we can cut costs or increase marketing and sales spend. From the data, our marketing and sales budget is only 5% of our total budget.

In conclusion, I recommend increasing marketing spending and introducing tiered pricing to bundle Athena Horizon with advisory services.


Our next steps are

  1. Work with the product team to determine the feasibility

  2. Work with leadership and contracts to assess price tier

  3. Increase marketing and sales budget to 20% of the company’s budget

Part 2: How to Write Like a Consultant

Writing is also an important part of our day--particularly--writing emails or reports. Like how we structure our thoughts as we “talk” like a consultant, we use the same framework and process to write that report or email.

Step 1: Recap: Recap the last conversation and level set everyone, and highlight your main point. It can be an ask, a recommendation, or a solution.

Step 2: Supporting points: Remember the Rule of Three and Top-Down communication

Step 3: Conclusion: Conclude and next steps


Putting it all together

Dear Susan,

I hope this email finds you well! Per our last conversation, we requested a high-level review of the newest vendor. I recommend moving forward with this vendor.

From preliminary research, we discover:

  • Price: The price of the vendor is comparable with its competitors

  • Product: The quality of the deliverable is top of the industry

  • Company: The company has a strong customer success team

Based on our research, we recommend moving forward with this vendor. As a next step, I recommend scheduling a call with Amy from sales.

Please let me know if you have any questions,

Thank you,

Christina


In Summary

So, there it is. This guide provides an easy, formulaic way of structuring your reports, emails, and presentations. It may not always fit our situations, especially if we function in a casual environment. But I hope that it provides you with a tool that you can use when the situation arises and helps you become a better leader, influencer, and communicator.


Originally published on elpha

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