How intelligent digital marketing solutions give consultancies an edge

12 December 2017 5 min. read

Consulting firm executives and sector consultants from digital specialists Touchstone CRM joined forces on 7th December in London to work on the knotty problem of why many consulting firms are slow to adopt transformative technologies that could substantially increase their client engagement success and advance their business growth. A synopsis of the key takeaways.

The delegates considered the theme 'How to beat the consulting competition with intelligent client engagement’ – but it soon became evident that there are significant barriers to adoption, mostly in the form of people. Digital landscape success as expounded amongst industry digital experts looks very different from the everyday reality for consulting SMEs. 

A people resistance culture

An analysis of the systems landscape for consultancies shows that there are plenty of innovative, flexible and scalable digital intelligent business applications on the market, offering different levels of sophistication and capability for intelligent client engagement and digital marketing. The technology is in good shape. So is it a PICNIC situation – Problem In Chair Not In Computer?

Inherent resistance to change was a key topic in the discussion. People don’t like the idea of doing things differently. From time-served consultants who don’t want a profile on LinkedIn to established board directors who turn their backs on tech that could demonstrably save them hundreds of thousands and IT managers who are reluctant to do more than lightly automate the same old processes, the group shared their experiences of digital refuseniks, both internal and external.How intelligent digital marketing solutions  can give consultancies an edge

The second problem is a lack of understanding. Every consulting firm representative had some experience of a CRM, but only 40% had a technology solution that could in any way connect and streamline their activities. With disparate data sources, individual communication channels and manually driven reports, the delegates were working at the limit of their available time and understanding. They didn’t know the extent of functionality available and true potential of digital client engagement solutions to manage, automate and optimise client insight and communication in one single source of the truth.

Fee earning first

The third challenge is time and resource. Around the table, more than 50% of the consulting representatives expressed frustration at how difficult it is to get their experts to impart their knowledge to create the relevant content that customers are hungry for. While some had managed to deploy simple collaborative tools to enable team chat and sharing, helping consultants to pool their knowledge and connections, it was difficult to persuade consultancy firms’ financial decision-makers to invest time or money in digital projects that might disrupt day-to-day operations or take fee earning consultants away from client work – even if they were not fully utilised. 

It starts with a business case

How can consultancies overcome these challenges to define and deploy the digital solutions that could transform their success and help them outperform competitors in an increasingly globalised market and disrupt the comfortable, established one-to-one relationships that many clients maintain with the Big Four? 

One opportunity is according to the experts at the event in creating a compelling business case for investment. Ben Revill, Professional Services Business Manager at Touchstone CRM, revealed that 75% of his role is in helping clients to establish and communicate the potential benefits of deploying intelligent digital business applications, so everyone in the organisation can see what they stand to gain by adoption… or lose by failing to act.Quote Ben Revill

Before that can happen, there’s a need to bridge the knowledge gap between consultants and technology service providers, so they understand the capability and potential of the technology solutions available and how to evaluate the many alternatives on the market. The depth and value of analytics insight as well as the opportunity for targeted communication and shared client knowledge is far from obvious to many consulting firms, who haven’t been exposed to the information they need from trusted sources. All of this concludes that digital application adoption is not a simple case of PICNIC.

“There’s a clear need to explain the power, flexibility and cost-effectiveness of client engagement and digital marketing solutions, so they are realistic, accessible and achievable for consultancy firms of all sizes and in all specialist markets,” said Revill. “We therefore plan to offer more consultants the opportunity to join discussion sessions and educational events to help them choose the most advantageous digital path.”

Earlier this year, Dean Carroll, General Manager of Touchstone CRM, gave his take on the five most strategic challenges that UK consultancies are facing. 

Related: Consulting firms not fully monetising digital transformation efforts.