Selling professional services and consulting is, and always will be, a team sport. As Rudyard Kipling so aptly states in The Jungle Book, “the strength of the pack is the wolf and the strength of the wolf is the pack.” Truly a law of the jungle! The business developer, aka the wolf in our case, who prefers to go at it alone, is severely disadvantaged, as is the firm who promotes this approach.
Why? Consulting work, particularly project-based work, is a very difficult sell. The decision is based heavily on trust, and the confidence that the guns for hire can get the job done within the time and cost parameters set by the buyers’ management. If things don’t work out, the consultancy goes away, but the buyer faces any and all sorts of internal punishment, including but certainly not limited to: a reduction in bonus, a permanent ding in his credibility or worst case, loss of job.
So, when selecting a firm to partner with, firms are going to look inside the horse’s mouth, asking questions like “who will do the work? Where have they done it before? What are the hidden challenges we can expect?” And then they will ask you to prove it. To think they would hire the team based upon resumes and the business developer’s promise is naive.
The answer is simply to go in with as much of the team as possible, as soon as possible. Having the top brass along can help as well, but you must showcase the ponies to stay in the game.
“Now this is the Law of the Jungle—as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk, the Law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”