How Do I Present the BA Value Proposition to Consulting Clients?

A reader writes in with the following question:

I work with a new consulting firm and at the moment I have to visit different offices (hospitals, banks, software houses etc) to introduce my company and discuss how we can be of help to them. The problem I am having is how to best present our value proposition because most times the clients take a defensive side, like we have efficient systems, we have internal BAs, have you worked in this industry before and all of that. Please can you give some advice?

Aaron Whittenberger’s answer:

Your question is more of a sales question than business analysis, but it is a position that BAs can find themselves in when they work for a consulting firm that tries to sell their services as a BA. So, there are five things you must do when you find yourself in this position:

Engage Sales and Marketing Professionals

As a BA you provide analytical services to your clients. You do not profess to be an expert in sales and marketing, but this is the role that your firm is requesting you to fill. Now you’re in the catch-22 position of wanting to be the “Master of your trade”, but being asked to do so much outside of your trade that you can easily become “Jack of all Trades, Master of None”.

So discuss with the management of your firm the possibility of engaging Sales and Marketing professionals to accomplish this task that has been asked of you. Just as a BA has a skill set suitable to provide analytical services, Sales and Marketing professionals have a skill set suitable to “sell” your value position and bring new clients in the door. It is more appropriate for a BA to support the sales and marketing efforts of the consulting firm than to be in charge of it or the only person involved in those efforts.

Speak from a Position of Value

You alluded to the biggest issue that you will have to overcome “I work with a new consulting firm…introduce my company…” This is where Sales and Marketing professionals will be able to assist in overcoming this issue. When talking with new prospective clients you literally have about five seconds to grab their attention. If you don’t, you lost a sales opportunity. The one thing the BA can do to assist in this area is to become certified. The company being able to market that “We have Certified Business Analysis Professionals on staff” tells prospective clients that your firm has consultants that have been trained and have experience in business analysis tasks and techniques. This helps grab the attention of the prospective client and gets them to listen further to your presentation. So have one or more consultants on staff with the CBAP® or CCBATM certification helps overcome the “new consulting firm” image.

Clearly State Your Value Position

As I said earlier, you have about five seconds to grab your audience’s attention. So get your “value position” stated….very quickly….very clearly. What “gap” or “need” of the prospective client are you attempting to fill. Find the perspective clients “pain point(s)” and seek to solve it.

Since your firm is not well known, back up your value position by well known industry resources. According to the CHAOS report published by the Standish Group only approximately 32% of all projects are expected to be successful. The greatest reason (50%) given for project failure is poor requirements definition. Another reason is poor resource allocation—not having the right person, with the proper skills, on the project at the right time. We have the proper resources, Certified Business Analysis Professionals, that can help increase your project success rate. Our services are in line with the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) Body of Knowledge (BABOK®), the world-wide generally accepted standard of the profession.

Format Your Message to Your Audience

One of the biggest mistakes that people of all professions make is attempting to deliver the same message to multiple audiences. Most of the time the message may be well received by one or two audiences, but not so well received by other audiences. This is because the message was better suited to the audiences where it was well received. With little modification the message can be delivered in a way to make it more suitable to a different audience. C-level executives and busy doctors want the abridged version. A technical staff wants more of the details and will listen longer to get those details. If you start your message with the details, you have already lost the C-level executives. If you deliver only the high-level, abridged version you have lost the technical staff. You may have to have three or four ways of saying the same thing, each delivery targeted to a specific audience.

Be Persistent

I hear from my Sales and Marketing colleagues that the sales cycle these days is much longer than it has been in the past. It takes longer to close a sale. It takes more contact with the prospective client. So be persistent, but don’t be a nag. If you become a bother, they will write you off, but you must keep in contact with the prospective client on an on-going basis. Keep your firm in the forefront and on the mind of the prospective client. This again is where Sales and Marketing professionals will know how to tread that fine line between being persistent and becoming a nuisance.

So hopefully you can “sell” your company management on the need for Sales and Marketing professionals to assist in this effort and position yourself in support of those efforts. One of the best things you can do to give your firm a position of value (from which to speak) is to become certified. Best wishes to you on your efforts!

>>Learn More About Showcasing Your Value as a BA

How Does Business Analysis Create Value?

What You Are Empowered To Do As a Business Analyst

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  1. Cathy, all very good points. I did talk about finding the perspective client’s pain points and seek to solve them. You elaborated more on that point, and yes you should seek to solve these issues from the client’s perspective. This assumes that you have gotten into a dialog with a perspective client; that they will share their pain points with you. I took from the reader’s question that they were introducing their consulting firm to new clients, trying to get their foot in the door. As I said you literally have about five seconds to grab the clients attention. Once you have their attention you can probe into their pain points. So I attempted to cover both aspects, get in the door and stay in the door.

  2. Aaron – I agree that you need to tailor your message to your audience. But, I think it goes beyond just the level of your audience. In my experience, you need to tailor your message to the value proposition of the company that you are speaking to. Rather than telling them why you are valuable in a general sense, ask them what their biggest pain point is and talk about how you and your company can help them resolve that pain.

    When you show that you are passionate about solving their problems and delivering business value from their perspective, rather than from your perspective, then the potential clients will want to work with you. In this way, your credentials and competency can be demonstrated by example rather than just by you telling them what your value is.

    I recently read the book “Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotae Client Loyalty”, by Patrick Lencioni. Its a popular book her at Geneca. Even though it focuses more on Strategy consulting, I found it to be very useful to me in my role as a Senior level BA in a consulting firm.

    Cathy Brunsting
    Senior Business Analyst



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