The value of intial consultations and why I charge (and you should too)

free lunch erp consultingOn any given day I receive from 1 to 3 inquiries (today alone I counted 5) from people already using MAS 90 accounting software or thinking of switching. Most start off just like this:

Hello Wayne,

I am looking for someone that can assist a firm that has started a project but has hit a wall with Visual Integrator and generating reports from the MAS database.

Can you please get back to me by email so that we can discuss?

Reading between the lines I can  infer with a decent amount of certainty that the original “Business Partner” sold a package of software with promises that implementing some difficult feature(s) would be “no problem”.

Now it comes time to implement that feature long after the software has been sold. Suddenly that “no problem” is a big problem.

So the consultant (or end user) starts to reach out for suggestions and assistance on how to actually make the software work.

What they’re really looking for is a free push in the right direction. A “Hail Mary” pass if you will. That one FREE idea that can be provided to turn this failing software engagement around. Note the liberal use of the word free?

If you’re providing these types of ideas for free you’re foolish. Continue reading “The value of intial consultations and why I charge (and you should too)”

Leads That Suck: Consultant Searching On Behalf of Client

nosalemas200There are  warning signs  a lead  is not worth the trouble to chase.

Money’s the first qualifier.

Always look first at the budget. Not because you should only be interested in money – but because when there’s no realistic budget  other parts of the project are usually not realistic either.

Secondly, look at WHO is requesting your assistance.

Increasingly I’ve seen Purchasing Agents, IT Directors and even Administrative Assistants initiating requests for accounting software information.

Clearly these people are  information gatherers rather than decision makers. At least lets hope a Purchasing Agent isn’t buying an ERP system without consulting the CFO or Accounting Manager.

The biggest red flag  in my 25 years of consulting  that always spells NO SALE is when  one specific type of person  requests  information.

I’ve never sold into this situation and you probably won’t either. That person making the request?

Continue reading “Leads That Suck: Consultant Searching On Behalf of Client”

Getting customers to put lips in the game

kissingSome days you just have to laugh at how screwed  the entire ERP selling process is.

Last week an existing customer contacted me for some added information on a solution that would integrate to their accounting system.

Prior to any demo or initial needs assessment I invested  20 minutes (if anyone can do it in less more power to them) explaining the different software configuration options. Explaining how one  particular solution would be preferred due to better integration.  Explaining  other options that were available. Explaining how there were certain limitations that the prospect needed to be aware of, etc, etc.

So long as my information was free – the company had no problems moving forward.

I pre-qualified for money. Gave  a $10k upgrade round number estimate. The client knew full well that their final number was north of $10,000.

Here’s where things start to come apart. Continue reading “Getting customers to put lips in the game”

Tip: Always quote your start date from the time payment is received

icalIf you’re like most consultants (myself included) – you get very excited to close that big deal. Never mind that the client was first quoted two months ago and sat on your proposal despite your repeated email and voice reminders.

So now the client has made their decision – and wants you to start. The problem is they expect you to start tomorrow – despite your having a full calendar for the next two weeks.

The solution I’ve found? Provide the following text on all of your quotes/proposals:

We are available to start 10 business days from receipt of payment in our office.

Problem solved. Guarantee.

Still billing in fractions of an hour? How quaint.

hourglassAre you still billing your clients in fractions of an hour? Why?

Is there a rule somewhere that says the value of your services are directly related only to the amount of time you spent on them? If so, then how do you compensate yourself for the time spent accumulating that knowledge? How about the time you never billed the last client for sharpening your skills on that very same question you just answered (and billed) in 10 minutes for the current client? Continue reading “Still billing in fractions of an hour? How quaint.”

Could Microsoft exit the ERP business altogether?

ballmerIs it possible that we’ll see Microsoft sell out and exit the ERP accounting software business altogether? There are a number of signals, most recently today’s Bloomberg article that quotes Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell as saying the company is on a permanent diet and could ship some customer support positions to countries with lower personnel costs.

Of course that statement and one stinky quarter alone is not enough to draw a conclusion that the company’s Microsoft Dynamics, Navision and Axapta are on the chopping blocks.

A quarterly earnings report where the analyst revenue estimates were missed by over $1 billion is nothing to sneeze at. And judging from this article online in Bloomberg – the company expects to be making permanent changes that have in the past included cutting non-essential divisions. So the question is whether the ERP division could be on the blocks? Bloomberg Continue reading “Could Microsoft exit the ERP business altogether?”

Dear Wayne – I am interested in learning more about how you use social media

wayne schulz bhWayne,

I really enjoy reading your posts and observing how you are leveraging social media. You have presented yourself as an expert on many topics–good for you!

I am interested in learning more about how you are using social media in your business. Do you currently promote products through Facebook, twitter and other forums? If so, I would really like to talk with you about the metrics you watch and time you dedicate to contributing and responding in these forums.

Thanks again for sharing your articles. Continue reading “Dear Wayne – I am interested in learning more about how you use social media”

5 Lies Competitors Hope You Believe

mas90guruIf I’d taken all the terrible business advice  I’ve been given over the years I would have been out of business   10 years ago.

Well meaning consultants have this habit of giving advice about things they sometimes know nothing about. If you’re foolish enough to follow it you may end up like they  do – out of business, unemployed or working as an employee.

Here are my five favorite lies  consultants have tried to lay on me over the years Continue reading “5 Lies Competitors Hope You Believe”

T-Mobile to release BlackBerry 8520 – I suggest you skip this model

blackberry 8520T-Mobile today announced they’ll be releasing their latest BlackBerry – the 8520 – on August 5. I suggest you skip this model. The camera is a step down (only 2 MP)  from the just released BlackBerry 8900 (3.2 MP camera) and there is still no 3G data capabilities. On the plus side RIM have included some fancy multi-media buttons at the top of their newest Berry.

But really, who buys a BlackBerry to play music?

This is slated to be T-Mobile’s low end BlackBerry and you’ll be able to find it widely available for free. The problem is the service isn’t free and you’ll pay top dollar in monthly voice and data only to be attached to a low end BlackBerry that takes crappy photos.