I’ve Now Read Every Edition of This Book
“The phrase “specialize or die” is among the worst advice in the world. You need to “generalize and thrive.” Consulting is now about expertise and the varying ways to provide it to clients. And that expertise has to be around processes, not content.”
I had the good fortune of meeting Alan Weiss, author of the book “Million Dollar Consulting” in the early 90s at a Wisconsin Speakers Association meeting in Milwaukee. We both arrived early at the hotel venue and having walked in together, he invited me to breakfast. Later in front of a packed audience, he delivered 4- hours of pragmatic wisdom on how to achieve massive success in the speaking and consulting industry.
Fast forward to a few years later, and I reached out to Alan about his private one-on-one mentorship program. At a price tag of around $4,500.00, I obtain direct access to his value-based approaches and strategies.
The highlight of my time working with him was the advice he offered about a hot new biotech client I was pursuing in the San Francisco Bay Area. He sent me a template for the proposal I was being asked to submit. I wrote it before sending it on to him for review. To my dismay, it came back with a sea of red corrections he felt I needed to make in order to strengthen the proposal.
The following week I made the three-hour trek to Pablo Alto with a final draft of the proposal in tow. Because the fee was far in excess of what I had ever submitted prior, I arrived at the company headquarters a nervous wreck and filled with trepidation. Ushered into a massive conference room replete with a large meeting table, the executive committee reviewed my proposal. To my surprise, they not only accepted the highest-priced option I proposed but sent me on my way with a check for the entire first installment of $50,000.
So who is Alan Weiss? In my experience, he is one of those rare experts who can walk the talk in terms of the value he delivers to his audience. Over the years, his solo consulting practice Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has built an enviable list of clients including Merck, Hewlett-Packard, GE, Mercedes-Benz, State Street Corporation, Times Mirror Group, The Federal Reserve, The New York Times Corporation, Toyota, to name just a few.
He is a highly sought speaker at major conferences and has been a visiting faculty member at Case Western Reserve University, Boston College, Tufts, St. John’s, the University of Illinois, the Institute of Management Studies, and the University of Georgia Graduate School of Business. But he is arguably best known for the over 60 books he’s written and published, including the epic bestseller Million Dollar Consulting: A Professional Guide To Building A Practice (from McGraw-Hill) now in its 30th year and sixth edition.
In it, Alan offers on-point wisdom and strategies for building a highly profitable business practice. Whether you are a solo consultant, strategy advisor, thought leader, or even a private coach or wellness expert, you’ll find tons of implementable advice on how to grow and sustain your practice
I just finished reading this most recent, fully revised, and updated edition (I’ve now read all six dating back to 1992). And I can honestly say that no book has had a bigger impact on my own entrepreneurial trajectory than Million Dollar Consulting.
Unlike other books attempting to share a similar message, Weiss’ book is highly accessible and pragmatic. Readers will find it a refreshing counterblast to tired and frequently rehashed consulting practice methods that have lost their relevancy over time.
When it comes to building your practice, Alan offers this sage bit of perspective that has long been baked into my own entrepreneurial DNA
“Your entire marketing plan is about what your value proposition is (how you improve the client’s condition), who your ideal buyers are (who is best suited to your value and can pay for it), and how to reach them and allow them to reach you.”
“The more you focus on processes, the larger your net and the more fish you will catch. You can throw back the ones you don’t want or that are illegal to keep. But you have your choice of the rest.”
Have I convinced you to grab a copy of this book? If so, first a forewarning — Weiss is not one to deliver soft, french pastry prescriptions. His writing is “no holds barred” direct, and he is refreshingly vulnerable about the often cataclysmic mistakes consultant, advisors, and practitioners (whatever the hell you call yourself) make on their business journey.
At times it can even feel as though his raw views are personally directed at you, the reader. But in my humble opinion, that’s what makes the book so valuable.
By way of example, Alan is ruthlessly brutal on those who hold to the view that well-placed hourly rates are the secret sauce for a profitable practice. With contrarian flair, he instead asserts that client proposals
should offer flat-rate pricing options of increasing value, with a discount offered if the entire retainer is paid upfront. Years ago, Alan helped me rewire my brain neurons to this flat-rate approach, which I can honestly say has yielded immeasurable results.
It goes without saying that Million Dollar Consulting offers an embarrassment of riches for those seeking to take their businesses to stratospheric levels. Here are a few breadcrumbs from the book of what Alan subscribes to:
Consulting is now about expertise and the varying ways to provide it to clients. And that expertise has to be around processes and not content.
Whether you’re a coach, piano tuner, specialty car consultant, or involved in any number of other pursuits, Alan believes that we are all primarily in the marketing business. In other words, no clients or customers, and no opportunities to deliver your expertise.
You should be paid based on your value, not your time, not your presence. The value mindset trumps the money mindset.
A proposal is neither a negotiation nor an exploration. It is a summation of the conceptual agreement you’ve come to with the client. The sale is made prior to the proposal.
Pandemics, natural disasters, local wars, and economic roller coasters are when your talent and value are most needed.
Million Dollar Consulting is certainly not for you if you are among the faint of heart or possess a stubborn, “gonna stick to your ways even if they are not working” attitude. If you fall into one of these mindsets, you are likely to roll your eyes and look askance at some of Alan’s missives.
But what I’ve always loved about Alan is his willingness to throw some shade on rigor mortis thinking. His book will likely deliver a knockout blow to many of the prevailing views you currently harbor. But trust me, this book does so in a manner that delivers an infinite return for your investment in it.
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