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One on One

Brodericks One-on-One series

with Reggie Van Lee from Booz Allen Hamilton

Reggie Van Lee is a Senior Vice President with Booz Allen Hamilton, specializing features interviews with leaders in corporate transformation and business model redesign projects for many of the at top professional services firms worlds leading communications, media, around the world. Discussions focus and technology companies. He is the former on market strategy, best practices, Managing Partner of Booz Allens New opportunities and challenges. York office and served on the firms board of directors. He has co-authored articles on the topic of strategy implementation and developed an innovative and integrated tool kit for management with techniques designed to help CEOs realize new strategies and institutionalize existing strategies. With over $2.5 billion in annual sales and more than 14,000 employees, Booz Allen Hamilton provides services in strategy, organization, operations, systems, and technology to the worlds leading corporations, government and other public agencies, emerging growth companies, and institutions. Van Lee met with Broderick in his New York office to discuss brand, marketing, business development and client loyalty.

You dont sell clients. Clients buy. Its our job to be there when the client is ready to buy.
an interview with Reggie Van Lee from Booz Allen Hamilton

What does brand mean to professional services firms? When your product is a service, clients view your brand as both what they receive and how they receive it. Its both What do I get and how do you deliver? Within the professional services arena, the experiencethe howmatters as much to clients as the results delivered. Its the combination of the deliverable and the experience that differentiates a service firm. For example, the way we interact with a client, the partnership we createthe roll up our sleeves mentalitycreates a distinctive experience for clients that work with Booz Allen. It is the way we come to the answer as well as the answer we deliver that makes us different. For product companies, the differentiation has historically been focused on the productfaster, more safety, better design, great performance. Increasingly, however, product companies are facing what service companies grapple with every day. They need to focus both on the tangible and the intangible. Brand is about the total experience.

Your firms idea of marketing depends greatly on where your operation is in its lifecycle and the overall environment you are operating within.
As a global firm, how do you ensure brand consistency worldwide? We operate from a global mindset. Our entire business model is based on a global platform. That means our profit and loss, our performance reviews, everything we do centers on the support of our global team. Within other firms, operational priorities often create disparitiesyou are accountable to the profit line of your practice and your office or region. That creates internal conflicts. With our global focus, we can ensure that every client, regardless of whether they are in Texas or Tokyo, will have a similar experience when they work with Booz Allen consultants.

With so many smart, independentminded professionals, how does the firm balance individual marketing styles with the need to put a consistent face to the marketplace? Partners gravitate to what they believe is best for their group. There is no mandate that everyone march to the same beat if there was, it would fail miserably. One size does not fit all. Instead, we adopt a thousand points of light approach. Different industry groups need different approaches based on where they are in the market and the unique climate of their industry sector. The marketing approach that works for telecom today, for example, is not necessarily the right approach for our retail team or our financial services team. How do professional services firms define marketing? At Booz Allenjust as in many service firmsthere are wide-ranging perceptions about marketing. To some, marketing means salessales support, what do I need to close a sale? To others, marketing is business developmentwhat do I need to target the right people and start a conversation with them? And to others,

marketing means brand and awareness ease of name recognition among a broad audience. Some think marketing is PR, some advertising, some pitch packages. In realitymarketing is all these things. Your firms idea of marketing depends greatly on where your operation is in its lifecycle and the overall environment you are operating within. In a booming market, little in terms of sales support is neededthe focus is on building brand recognition. But in a tight economy, the focus is on sales, on getting and closing a transaction. If your company is quite mature, your marketing approach will be quite different than for firms just starting out. How do you keep a pulse on the market and market demands? Insight into our clients hot buttons is vital. The crux of our knowledge about the market comes from our everyday dealings with clients, and the best way to gather that information is via our partners. The challenge, of course, is to unlock that information so it does not remain with one individual but is shared across

Keeping the dialogue going does not happen with generic mailers and advertisements. The best way is to engage the client in meaningful conversations.

and discuss strategy and client service issues. We also have an internal Professional Excellence Award that celebrates the good work of our consultantsthe application and award selection process serves as a way to share information about key engagements across the firm. The award carries with it industry groups and the firm as a whole. a great deal of prestige within the firm, To help do this, we deploy two partners which encourages teams to participate. against every opportunity. The more people involved, the better the odds that Between client engagements, what is the best way to keep the Booz Allen the information will be shared. brand strong in your clients minds? There is no secretit takes old fashioned, personal contact. You need to find any reason to make meaningful contact. Drop a note, prompted by something in the industry. Offer insights on news. Give your client a heads up on how the news mayor may notimpact their operations. Some would call this free advice, but I call it investing in the longterm relationship. Keeping the dialogue going does not happen with generic mailers and advertisements. The best way is to engage the client in meaningful conversations. That way, when they have a project, they think of you.
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What other processes does Booz Allen have in place to facilitate sharing of client insights and knowledge across the firm? At the end of each engagement, we create a summary of the engagement. We strip out all confidential client information and catalog it on our internal system in a way that can be easily retrieved. In addition, we have intellectual capital fairs, team meetings and other ways to share information. Each quarter, we have a home office day, where all consultants in that office are required to be at their home office for meetings where we share information

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In addition to staying top of mind, how do you deepen relationships and client loyalty? We assign a client service officer to every client. Each partners compensation is based not only on annual billings, but also on the length of the clients relationship with the firm and overall stability of the clients billings. This mindset causes you to manage client relationships differently. You dont sell to clients. Clients buy. Its our job to be there when the client is ready to buy. Client service officers need to be focused on the long term, not this months billables. Many professional services firms do not have the culture to support this model. Accounting and law firms, in particular, need to reevaluate their models. Too often, they compensate partners on that years client billings, not on the overall value of the client relationship to the firm.

When selling to CEOs and board members, the client must have the trust and the assurance that the person they are buying from will be there through the experience.
What strategies does Booz Allen use to manage its client pipeline? We think of the pipeline in thirds: We want one third of our clients to be sizable clients, accounting for about 60% of billings. Wed like one-third of clients to be in developmentwe do project work for them, but they are not ongoing or significant billers. And, wed like one-third of our interactions to be focused on wooing clientson developing new client relationships. Keeping the balance is key, but not always easy. The goal is to move everyone up to be a sizeable client. You need to keep replenishing and moving clients up because your large clients reliance on consulting support varies over time.

Will professional services firms ever support a stand-alone sales function? Ironically, hardcore sales companies including consumer goods companies are seeking ways to build relationships with customers just like we must do in the professional services industry. They are moving away from sales transaction models to find ways to make the brand experience more memorable and different. To sell what we do, you have to understand the work. I think it would be difficult for a professional who is not a practitioner to sell our services. When you are selling to CEOs and board members, the client must have the trust and the assurance that the person they are buying from will be there through the experience. The sales force model may work in some professional service environments, but for Booz Allen, our best sales force comes from within the partnership.

ABOUT BRODERICK

Broderick works exclusively with professional services firms to develop and implement market strategies that build brand awareness and generate business. Our clients include some of the worlds leading professional services firms. For more information, please visit our website at www.broderickco.com.
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