Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Welcome! You’ve Got Outsourced

If you still think that being technically competent in your profession is enough, here’s more evidence that you are mistaken. From a recent article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle titled “Shipping Legal Work Overseas”:

• Dan Reed of Atlanta-based UnitedLex – which helps firms outsource legal work to India and similarly low wage areas - says 25% of work done here can be outsourced to a low-cost location.
• $4 billion = estimated value of legal work headed to India by 2015
• 79,000 = number of legal services jobs outsourced overseas between 2003 and 2015

Consider whether your profession may be next. If so, consider your next career. Perhaps there are some good franchises available for you to buy?

How do you avoid professional services career-death-by-outsourcing?

1. Repeat after me, “I am not a vendor, I am not a vendor, I am not a vendor.” Do not accept commoditization. Even if your area of specialty seems like a hopeless commodity, there is hope. A banana is a banana is a banana, right? Well, what about Chiquita?

2. The best way to avoid commoditized is to go beyond mere technical competence (necessary but insufficient) and significantly build your strategic, advisory and relationship management skills. It’s very hard for a client to benefit from a great whisper-in-the-ear advisor when that advisor is located thousands of miles from their actual ear. The best way to grow those skills is to listen, ask questions and to understand the key strategic issues on the agenda for your client’s Board of Directors. Yeah, not just the key issues for your immediate client who may be farther down the food chain (necessary but insufficient). If you can map what you do to helping solve the most vital issues the client faces, you’re bullet-proof.

3. Don’t just be “famous” for serving a specific industry or performing a certain professional skill. Be famous for the types of situations you are most skilled at helping clients navigate. Be famous for the types of solutions you bring to clients who are facing tectonic business shifts. Be famous for HOW you do what you do…not just for what you do.

4. And, yet…solving client problems isn’t enough. Necessary, yes, but insufficient. Become excellent at attracting clients. If what’s getting outsourced is “back-office” than get better at “front office” efforts. It doesn’t get more “out front” than being in the local market winning new business. You don’t have to be a “born salesperson” to become excellent at attracting clients. Increasingly, there are terrific tools like Linkedin that facilitate your outreach. Remember, too, client development in professional services isn’t the same thing as sales. So, many personal styles or – Rainmaker Archetypes - can be effective at making rain and at being a world-class advisor and Creative Growth Group is just releasing findings from a new study that proves it.

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