The Importance of Quality Consulting Presentations
In your career, if you ever have the opportunity to consult, take it. We all work in our normal practitioner routines each day. When you are a consultant, you experience a different side of the fence. I have been a hospital vice president, hiring fundraising consultants for feasibility studies and capital campaigns. I also have been a consultant working on feasibility studies and capital campaigns.
There is one fence, but if you do both jobs, you see things from different perspectives, and it is stimulating.
When I hire a consultant to direct a capital campaign, I look at a variety of factors, such as the firm’s size, history, success rate, reputation, geographical reach, tenure of consultants, experience in specific arenas and more. Usually, I select three different firms to make presentations. I call these firms AAA, AA and A. I want my board and campaign committee to experience a variety of capabilities so they can see the differences of each firm.
Usually, two or three consultants from each firm attend a major presentation with a potential client. I expect the senior member of the firm to speak the most. The old sage usually has been through many campaign battles and is tested. He or she has seen and heard everything. I do enjoy seeing a combination of consultant ages, genders, experiences and styles.
The more you see and listen, the better able you are to see if the firm is the correct fit. You also wonder when selecting the consulting firm who actually will service the contract. You do not want to play a shell game when a senior member presents and a rookie is assigned to the campaign.
It is amazing to watch a consulting presentation in action. I vividly remember one hospital presentation: I was planning to launch a capital campaign and needed a firm to direct the campaign.
One firm was completely prepared with excellent materials and a focus for success. It answered every question and made me feel confident that it had the experience to deliver results. This firm had three representatives, including a senior male and a young female. They were completely transparent and local. The firm’s fee, by far, was the most expensive, but made me feel I was getting my money's worth—even if I paid more.
The second firm was located just outside our market area. The two firm representatives were very old. They seemed very unprepared and rambled through their presentation. They talked so much they left little time during their hour to answer questions. I did not have much confidence in them. Their materials also were done poorly. They seemed outclassed to me. They were proud of their many years of experience, and their fee was by far the lowest. I immediately could see why their fee was low. They offered little in the way of value. Their performance left little to be desired.
The third presenter was a one-man band. He owned his own firm. He would hire associates to work with him as the need allowed. He presented well and had moderate materials. His fee was in the middle of the pack. He was middle-aged but not too old. He was confident and prepared, but I felt he did not have the total assets needed to be successful in such an important campaign. He gave a wonderful effort, and I could understand his success. I just could not see him as a fit for our large hospital campaign.
If you are a consultant, some key rules for presentations are as follows:
- Look the part, and be prepared.
- Be transparent and answer every question.
- Let several members present to show diversity of experience.
- Use excellent materials, and know your client’s history.
- Be focused and interested in your client.
- Be truthful, and provide a SWOT analysis of your firm.
- Show how excited you would be to work with your client.
- Be proud of your successful results.
- Show value for fees.
- Follow up with proper communication.
It also is important, if possible, to have extensive successful campaign experience in the sector in which you seek business. I wanted an experienced hospital and health care campaign consultant.
If you have been on both sides of the fence, you will appreciate a consulting presentation at its highest level. You need to learn what to do and what not to do for future reference.
If you are planning a campaign, you have a great deal to lose in making a bad consulting choice. Take your time and make sure the firm is a correct fit with your institution. “Why should we choose your firm for our campaign?” is one question the firm better answer to your satisfaction!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.