Consulting Leadership - How and When to Pivot

Posted by Deltek on February 2, 2021

TwitterTweet it:'Ultimately your people are your most important asset. Aligning those people properly with a mission that has recently changed is a top challenge for consulting leaders'

“Sometimes you’ve got to zig when everybody else zags.” – Sean McDermott

The world changed drastically in 2020 and it’s no different for consultancies and their clients. To meet the new demands of clients, consulting firms priorities and offerings must change as well. We discussed strategies for dealing with shifting customer needs in our recent fireside chat with entrepreneur and consultancy CEO, Sean McDermott, and Senior Director of Product Marketing, Michelle Cipollone.

During the chat, Sean addressed the need to be communicating with customers because their priorities and concerns have shifted. “You need to be talking to them first because that will change the product(s) that you offer and how you deliver.” If you are not meeting your numbers and can’t get to your customers it might be time to pivot your offerings. But how do you change market positioning?  Some of the top insights from the chat included: 

How to Change Market Positioning?

  • Understand what your customers are thinking, don’t guess
  • Run experiments and test theories
  • Narrow your service delivery focus to do fewer things excellently, and create differentiation


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A second concern for consulting leaders involves talent. Ultimately your people are your most important asset. Aligning those people properly with a mission that has recently changed is a top challenge for consulting leaders. According to Sean, “It’s important to keep in mind that the people who got you here, may not be the ones who get you out.” He also discussed the importance of communicating clearly and transparently. “A lack of information can create a lack of trust and, in turn, hurts your internal brand. Communicating early and often can help build company loyalty [sic].”  Finally, Sean addressed the importance of being very intentional about connecting with your staff.  “One thing I like to do is call at least one employee every day and talk with them. You have to be intentional and schedule it because it’s easy to get bogged down and focus on the business instead of your staff.”

Key People-Focused Takeaways

  1. Communicate clearly and often – adopt new ways of communicating that may push you out of your comfort zone
  2. Be honest, thoughtful, and confident
  3. Double down investing in your people – make them feel wanted, engaged, and part of the solution
  4. Be empathic and flexible
  5. Be intentional about communication

Ultimately leaders are going to need to motivate employees, embrace technology and address market positioning in order to come out of 2020 with a healthy business.

In Case You Missed It...

How to Make Bold Moves When It Matters Most

Listen to our fireside chat with Sean McDermott, serial entrepreneur, CEO and founder of 5 successful consulting businesses and WheelsUpWorld blog, as we discuss how consulting leaders are dealing with shifting customer and employee demands. Watch Now >


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