I have found that the relationships I establish with my clients as a consultant are extremely important. Once you establish a relationship and some rapport, clients will come to you over and over again for services. Additionally, they will refer you to others in their organization who can use your services -- and even to their network contacts outside of their company. It is through these relationships with your client base that you can grow your business.
Of course, you have to prove yourself to be a good vendor choice over and over again as well.
I agree with Kathy that solid relationships are crucial to maintaining a baseline of recurring opportunity and new introductions. However, if you're just getting started, it is critical that you also have a formal business development model with a proven sales process and maintain an ever-evolving marketing program.
I started building relationships in data mining 19 years ago. Those relationships provide a sustaining base of business. At the same time, I have invested in sales training for 12 years and I am confident that it is centerpoint to my company's ability to acquire new work -- without giving up the farm. Additionally, I hired three marketing consultants (and let two go) in order to develop a much more effective lead development process. And finally, my company's business development model is specific to selling a cryptic and intangible services like data mining. As you might imagine, people do not come knocking on our door saying: "Data Mining?! I'll take three, please!" Services need to be 'productized' and clients need to be educated on the risks and rewards of data mining WITHOUT being on your $0/hour bizdev clock.
The Modeling Agency's business development model is proprietary, but was emulated by one other organization that I shared it with (seemingly under NDA), and they are becoming a substantial competitor to TMA. If the market weren't so substantially large, I might be concerned!
In summary, relationships are a very important part of the overall sales model. Why spend all the engergy and expense of acquiring new clients if you're not going to take the steps needed to retain your existing clients -- the ones from which, as Kathy noted, are the easiet to obtain new business.
All the best for the holiday season, and launching your new practice into the clouds!
Eric A. King, President
The Modeling Agency
guidance and results for those who
are data-rich yet information-poor
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As Eric King says, "...solid relationships are crucial to maintaining a baseline of recurring opportunity and new introductions." Recurring being the operative word here.
As a consultant, you just used your art/magic to create a great predictive model for your customer. You can't wait to turn it into business value for your customer and, of course, more revenue and business for you. But, standing in the way are all the mundane tasks and software costs and complexities of actually deploying your model. You know there must be a better, faster, and cheaper way to effective deployment...to implementation and time-to-production.
We imagined...that if you could provide the data mining client their own secure scoring engine (5 minutes), deploy your model on it (1 minute), score all the data you need (for as long as you need, even real time, 24/7). Sound simple enough for recurring opportunity?
About ADAPA® by Zementis, Bob Nisbet, Ph.D., co-Author of the soon to be released HANDBOOK OF STATISTICAL ANALYSIS and DATA MINING APPLICATIONS, (900 pages, publication date: APR-2009, ISBN-13: 978-0-12-374765-5, Imprint: ACADEMIC PRESS), says:
ADAPA® is a truly modeling tool agnostic. Modeling tools may come and go; it makes no difference to ADAPA®. Data sets may be small to gigantic; it makes no difference to ADAPA®. It plugs into the Amazon.com elastic cloud to score data sets of any size, and (after the free trial, of course) charges a small monthly fee and according to the amount of CPU usage only. No software to buy, no installations to endure.
Models are deployed through an intuitive, Web-based management console, allowing the user to manage the deployment of decision models in a central repository. The ADAPA® product from Zementis is based on an approach developed from seemingly the opposite direction – deployment to analytical modeling. Of course, this doesn’t mean that deployment comes before modeling. Rather, this approach provides a flexible, scalable, adaptable deployment engine, which you can load with models created in any data mining package that outputs the standard Predictive Model Markup Language (which, with ADAPA®, you don’t even have to learn).
This approach is quite novel and quite powerful, because it is open-ended on the model load end (any PMML 3.2 model can input) and open-ended (almost infinitely scalable) on the deployment end, providing model predictions in a true Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) environment. Besides being data mining tool independent, on the cloud it is hardware independent as well.
Your consulting service, as Eric says, becomes a bit more "productized," now even with recurring revenue. In support of good client relationships, ADAPA® helps you to easily deploy, execute and integrate your client's predictive models no matter what modeling tools you use on a trusted, secure, scalable infrastructure...as we imagined it for your clients.
Try it for yourself. Call Zementis at 619-330-0780, ext. 2000 or go to http://www.zementis.com/predictive_analytics_edition.htm for a free trial. The demo application is also available as an iGoogle Gadget, showing how simple it can be for you to build an application that calls the ADAPA® predictive analytics engine.