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FRACTIONAL BY SWARM PODCAST

E11

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Design

Andrei Gonzales

Building client trust as a consultant

Andrei Gonzales, is a multi-disciplinary design mentor, human-centered design evangelist, and current Senior Manager for Service and Experience Design for Deloitte Digital Canberra.

He has 20 years of professional experience in the digital industry across design, consulting, and digital innovation.

He held roles as an Experience Architect, Manager, and Designer at Salesforce, Fjord, BCG Digital Ventures, and the billion dollar start-up: InVision App.

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In this episode

In this episode, we talk about building trust with clients as a consultant, using workshops for workshops to uncover client dynamics, pricing your work, and treating every bid as a high risk assumption.

Outline & Transcript

0:00

Clients, no matter their size, they're always a bit nervous.They're always thinking, I'm about to put out all this money, will this work?And so demonstrating that you can deliver, building a trust is a big part of this.

0:15

And then that's outside of everything else that you're doing.Yeah.And that's that's almost like agnostic to what type of consultant you are, right?You can be a digital consultant.You can be a design consultant.You can be an IT consultant, but across the board building that trust and then giving them confidence that what that you're there to help them and that they can trust you is one of the biggest things.

0:36

Fractional is where you gain expertise from top consultants in the AI, software engineering and design.Andre Gonzalez is a multidisciplinary design mentor, human centered Design evangelist, and current Senior Manager for Service and Experience Design for Deloitte Digital Canberra.

0:55

He has 20 years of professional experience in the digital industry across design, consulting and digital innovation.He held roles as an experienced architect, manager and designer at companies like Salesforce, Fior, BCG, Digital Ventures, and the Billion dollar startup and Vision App.

1:15

In this episode we talk about building trust with clients as a consultant, using workshops for workshops to uncover client dynamics, pricing your work, and trading every bid as a high risk assumption.Thanks for tuning in.

1:31

This is your Co founder from Swarm, Alexis Koliado.Hello Andre.So we're going to have a live fractional episode here.So I'm Andre Gonzalez, originally from the Philippines, moved to Australia pretty much 10 years ago.My journey started, I would say actually started in the UK.

1:48

This is a long time ago as well.So I started doing.I started as a developer and then from was learning how to do code.I decided I wanted to do design more and so I started a consultancy in the Philippines which I ran for a little while.

2:07

I worked with a number of big brands that some of you might know, such as Envision.We were one of the original crew that was part of that.In fact, the original investor deck is still with me, which was the initial investing.

2:23

Yeah.So I still have that deck.So initial to get the initial investor funding and then when I moved to Australia, I joined BCG Digital Ventures.Then I was there for a couple of years, then I moved on to join Fjord.

2:40

Fjord at the time was the largest digital, you can call them agency.They were under Accenture, but they were kind of semi independent on their own.I joined Salesforce itself, so Salesforce obviously one of the bigger software vendors, we had a group there that sort of acted as a consultancy within Salesforce.

3:01

And then I moved from Salesforce to Deloitte Digital, which is the, from my understanding based on headcount, we are the largest digital consultancy in the world.You must know a lot about consulting then.I remember our last conversation, so I interviewed Andrea before for my podcast Roots.

3:24

He was selling Ninja Turtle comic books for Yeah.I started at Pesos grade three.I think I was.I was drawing Ninja Turtle comic books and that's why I took money.You were a consultant already at Grade 3.

3:42

Yeah, that's it.I was selling the grade.OK.So a lot of the people at Swarm are emerging consultants and you've done almost I think all flavors of consulting, right.

3:57

So just building your own, joining an MVP, doing like a top four O 1 and like a an Accenture as well.So what's your general advice, basically, for someone who wants to join one do consulting for the first time?

4:15

There's a couple of gotchas I think.I think people generally when they go into consulting and I've noticed this with because we I, I also handle a lot of what we call grads or graduates.So in Deloitte we have a graduate programme when people are in university and they it's almost like our in the Philippines we have the OJT so similar kind of thinking and then if you're if you're impressive enough you're kind of you're invited back.

4:41

I think the general thing I've noticed that a lot of people who go into consulting aren't quite sure of what's required or what's expected of a consultant.I think that's the that's the starting point.People going like what does it mean to be a consultant and by the term you're like how consultant means somebody consults you, right?

4:58

It's like yeah the best way to think about it is you are expected to understand their, your clients that when I say them I mean your clients industry, their business and they're going to you for advice on how to you know if they're going to in your digital consultancy on basically how to be more digital, how to be how to transform the business, how to how to re reimagine or rethink you know their their their current approach.

5:32

So the expectation when you go in, especially depending on your level, obviously if you introduce yourself as a grad consultant, they're not going to be expecting that sort of strategy from you.But they're when they engage with a consultancy, they're expecting that level of maturity like they've seen you do this before.

5:51

And I think it's a big deal.Like their clients, no matter their size, are always a bit nervous.They're always thinking, I'm about to put out all this money, will this work?And so demonstrating that you can deliver, building a trust is a big part of this.

6:10

And then that's outside of everything else that you're doing.Yeah.And that's that's almost like agnostic to what type of consultant you are, right?You can be a digital consultant.You can be a design consultant.You can be an IT consultant.But across the board, building that trust and then giving them confidence at what that you're there to help them and that they can trust you is one of the biggest things.

6:31

You've specifically been a design consultant, right?And I think we have opinions, especially if you're in the design bubble where people navel gaze around button sizes and layouts and and and color palettes and stuff.

6:49

Like how how do you break out of that shell and understand what it means to build trust with client?Like how do you actually do that?Let's let's take a step back because I think it's not I I don't want people to feel like they're like especially for that you're designing that space, right, that's there's a you're delivering, you're delivering value when you're obsessing over colours and buttons still, right.

7:13

So I'll take a step back and kind of point out that in here in Australia at least there are different.I want to use the word spheres, I think it's a better phrase and it's almost like a Venn diagram.The spheres overlap, right?You have in Australia what we call service designers.

7:32

So we designed the service level, I'll use a Philippine example, right.Designing the service level would be designing the services across globe subscriber journey, right.So that moment you, you, you contact globe and then the touch points, you know the website, the kiosks, the physical stores, that's part of your experience, your service experience because the globe, the whole ecosystem is a service, right.

8:01

They're servicing you And so you're designing all the touch points, right.So that's the service design level, right, for those specific touch points you have in necessarily we call them those are where the UX designers fall into.So I'm designing, if I'm a UX designer, I'm designing a touch point, which is the website.

8:17

So I'm designing the globe website or I might be designing the interactive kiosk whatever app, right, UXUXUX.Then you have the UI or interaction designers or then designing or producing the assets.

8:34

And so in Australia, when you level up, you know in the visual design UI journey, you're usually designing the whole brand identity, right.So the assets connect to the brand so that you maintain and you you create that assurance that that you are when every, when anybody interacts with Globe, they know it's a globe interaction, right.

8:58

You're creating that consistency visually in in in the interaction space.And then when you when when you're part of the production team and delivery and implementation, you are also ensuring that there is no, well there's a term that we use it's experience that.

9:17

So experience, that is, let's say you created the button, a blue button.You click the button, it turns purple after you've clicked it, right.Like the standard stuff.If there's a globe touch point where that's different, people learn something else.

9:33

The the the meaning changes, right?And so a good example of this is, you know, on Facebook, when you click the link and you have an external link, it pops up vertically, goes like that.That's an experience that Facebook has designed.So now you know every time something pops up vertically, it's an external link.If we change that to left and right, every time you click something, you're not quite sure what you're looking at.

9:54

So do you see what I mean?Like they're these levels that expand depending on where you are.And so in a roundabout way, what I'm trying to say with that thing around the go back to that thing you're pointing out, which is the buttons, you know, how do you break out of that Or I think the I think the question you were trying to ask was how do you explain the value of that to to your client and that's sort of what those spheres are about.

10:19

And so if I go back to that whole interaction thing, when it comes to experience debt, that also translates into technical debt.So if I'm a developer and I'm a team of developers and I only have to do this button once, I don't have to keep redoing it right.So there's no technical debt and I've reduced experience debt.

10:36

And so that's from a bottom perspective, it's, it looks very simple, but explaining that to your client, I'm saving you money.And the other translation to that is if your your customers aren't confused, they're not calling your support helpline.

10:52

They're not going, hey, I've done this and how come it's not working?So understanding those elements and how they cascade, you know, it's like if you press a button, there's all these things that happen.If it goes wrong, being able to communicate that to your client is, you know, what they're looking for.

11:08

They're like, oh, I see.Now I understand why you're obsessing over it, why you're not just saying, yeah, just, you know, just put any buttons like no, no, no, no.So essentially.Speaking their own language, right.So reducing costs or avoiding technical debt because it's it translates into expenses and developers are expensive.

11:31

By understanding their business and understanding what matters to them, you kind of almost avoid the jargon.Does that make sense?Because you're not talking in design speak, you're talking in their language.I I kind of want to ask you how you started out when you were doing your own consultancy right at Hugo Manila.

11:51

Like how did that play out with you?Because that was, I think that was your first time doing it right.That was my first time running my own gig.I I was a designer for Auk based, you call them boutique shop, right?

12:07

I was their lead web designer for a bit.But I think the the transition, the sort of the growth my career I think is.So I started doing the visual work and I think the the thing that I found hard was being able to give normal.

12:24

When I say normal, I'm talking about smaller sized clients, right, The ones who run their own business.I think that's a good example of one, right?Maybe less than 30 employees.Trying to explain to them the value of branding was tricky and and So what happened was that my pathway was like, OK, I'm struggling to explain to them why branding is important.

12:47

So I moved towards more of a UX approach which is more measurable.So I then I could at least explain to them This is why it's important because I can check that people aren't dropping out of your website etcetera.And so that's sort of expanded and a lot of the growth in our consultancy and Hugo, what's in relation to that because by giving evidence and confidence, people were like, oh, these guys actually know what they're doing and that expanded it.

13:14

That led to a few clients that looked beyond the digital, the app space.They wanted to do kiosk physical, that's what led to service design.And so when I started doing that level of design, when I still had to do measurable things, but I had service design sort of looking at the whole ecosystem that sort of changed my, let's say appreciation for what design can do.

13:36

Because I felt like, OK, I can actually design something that would change your life experience, right.I can make the like the going back to globe, I can make the example, I can make the experience of signing up for a mobile account feel smooth and seamless and you can expand it in different like that.

13:58

Being able to create that was powerful and so that's why I moved to like I lean towards that a lot harder than I used to do in, say, the branding space.So there's an evolution from this branding to to UX conversion focused, you know, communication, to just organically evolving your career to being a service designer where you can influence a lot more in the domain, right.

14:25

And when you're a consultant, right, Like I find that you will have to match these like, let's say, skills with specific domains, right, Like maybe healthcare or you know, government or finance, right, When you're not a domain expert in any of those, like, how do you handle that?

14:47

And does that influence like trust between you, was it design consultant and your client?What are your thoughts on that?So that's a really good question.That happens a lot because you tend to change clients.

15:04

There are periods when you're just with a client for like 3 months and there's a period when you're there for like 3 years, right.The the one thing I found is that you just have to be really honest.You have to what you're day one is basically you telling them, hey listen, I am not an expert in your industry.

15:22

I will lean on you and your SM, ES or you know subject matter experts for a little bit until I, you know, I gain enough confidence to to understand the intricacies, right.And most of the time they're very understanding though they understand that you are the expert in digital or design, you are the expert in technology or IT, but you're not an expert in finance.

15:50

And so they will, they will give you leeway in that sense of like you want to ask them questions and they will as long as you set it up right and you set up their expectations right.They're more than happy to answer that.If I were to give it a an example, it was for a, I'll just say that they're a commodities industry very, very large, billions of dollars global exporter etcetera.

16:14

They're I did a workshop with their finance team and they, I think the finance team in one location was like 50 people.So it's just one team in one location right.That's to kind of give you an understanding of what the size of the company And then when we did this journey mapping exercise to understand because I said to them I'm no expert.

16:35

I need you guys to help me unpack what you do on a day-to-day basis.And so we did a journey mapping exercise and it spanned 3 walls in their meeting room.What was fun about that was that not only did I learn, you know, what they had to do on a daily basis, they realised how much, well crap they went through on a daily basis.

16:55

They looked at the walls and they were like, who the fuck would sign up for this?So it was really interesting and powerful for both of us because I learned something and they learned that holy shit, we're so inefficient.And so that actually almost was like a Eureka moment.And then they they went, OK, let's work together and let's try to streamline this whole process.

17:13

So, you know, as we learned together.But yeah, the effect was really good.It's always the mapping exercises and the and the front end map and stage things.My, my, my joke there is that once once you expose the journey, people realize just how bad the journey is.

17:30

They don't realize it until you until you actually do map it.We love journey mapping.It's form and I think most you know client conversations should start there and whenever I do my own consulting, right, even for just small founder LED projects, it's almost it almost always starts with with the journey.

17:49

But are there other frameworks that you use different exercises?Like maybe you talked about service design like service blueprints, that's kind of the same thing right?Or are there any other frameworks that you'd recommend to to to designers listening now I'll?

18:09

I'll I'll cover that journey stuff.So, so here at least in Australia, Journey map the service blueprint to different things.Journey map is a bit more focused on your experience.When I signed up to this I felt this XYZ right blue service blueprint is a bit more process mapped.

18:28

User clicks this, enters this and then there's like the associated elements.We have this approach when we do, when we do the interviews, the initial sort of unpacking, so you know, you do the initial one-on-one.

18:46

I was teaching this for a while because just to add, I also do teach design.So I we do something I do in in depending on the project, which we basically uplift the capability of the client.So we teach them a little bit about certain design, but not, you know, not in a demeaning way or a way that makes them feel like, oh, I don't know anything.

19:05

It's more of like here's a, here's a different way to think about things.So we teach them design one-on-one.And so one of the things that we try to do is that when we're doing the initial exploration interviews is we have this approach called the five piece.

19:22

So the five pieces process, I don't know if you've already heard this, but process people place products and performance.And so the trick there is that you then ask someone, OK, talk to me about your day.And they, you know, they tell you, oh, I get up six in the 6:00 AM, right?

19:37

That part is processed.And you go like, oh, OK And then they go and I reach for my phone and OK, the phone is the P is a product.And you go, OK, what do you do in your phone?And then they tell you that's another process.What's your what?What app do you do, do you use to to check that they mention that that's another P product And then say I contact my boss.

19:58

Oh, yeah.Through what, e-mail?Not a product, another process, another person.That's P another P people.So you just map out all these little steps just through the conversation and then what happens is that you'll have this journey for five piece and like you actually have this really robust, almost pseudo service map of the journey with all the little elements broken down.

20:21

And then as they're going through and it's probably when it takes so long, it's like, oh, it takes so long.That's performance.That's.And then I walk into the shower.Oh that's a place.So you see how these all these PS start to pop out just by doing that exercise, you do that three or four times, an initial group of people and then you'll have this pattern.

20:39

When you have this pattern you'll see where all the paint points are because they'll all set at the same around the same place and you and then you create this because you start collecting it in post its you'll see all the post its jumbled in one area and you say ah this is where people have these common areas common paint points common tools common that's a that's a technique we use.

20:59

I'm trying to think of another one so many one of the things I think that people underestimate yeah I know it's such a loaded question.One of the other things that I think people underestimate is the setting up of workshops.

21:19

I I I think that's one of the things that I've I've definitely appreciated the value the more I've done this like over the years.You need to you know that joke when you have a meeting for a meeting you need to have a workshop for a workshop.And it's not even like the higher you go the with the people you're workshopping with, the more setup you need.

21:39

You're going to do a workshop with the CEOs you got to do a workshop with let's say they're five like 5 bosses.Before you do that five boss workshop, you're going to have to do a couple of workshops with them individually.And so you're and you.Understand the dynamics of.Yeah, yeah.

21:55

You need to understand that that role, that the dynamic between them, the the relationships and what eat individually what they're trying to do.And the reason for that is when you get to that five person boss workshop, you have their interests, their goals covered, you understand their perspectives and you don't walk into effectively a war zone of you know, high-powered people disagreeing with each other.

22:20

So you have to do all the set up up front.That's a lot of our crops, but it's.It's.Funny that they deliver better.Yeah, yeah.And it's, you don't have to say it's a workshop too.You can just sort of, hey, can we have a conversation for for half an hour and you kind of almost like build it up like initial conversation and then you go, can we meet again for an hour, you know in the coming days to cover some of these topics.

22:47

So you're you're it's almost like stealth workshopping.And then as and it's in your kind of just gathering things and then after let's say two weeks of individual workshop, you know stuff workshops.Then you go into the full client one, you come in really prepared, you know everyone in the room, you've built the relationship, you've built trust and you have all the goals ready.

23:10

Then you have a successful workshop.That's really smart.I've never thought of it that way.Well-being.Someone who has never worked at that skill, at least the stuff workshop method, we will keep that in mind.But it's it's really important, right?

23:27

Like if you're working with corporates and enterprises and people with the with like an open innovation mindset, just knowing the power dynamics, who wants what?I think a lot of people underestimate or not underestimate, but I'd say don't fully appreciate the value of those individuals when it comes to progressing your work.

23:56

At the end of the day, the the ones making the decisions are human beings.They're not, they're not AI, right.So you're going to work with people, You need to understand how they work.So, you know, it doesn't matter how pretty your thing is if if you're not all aligned and you've not built that trust you're going to have, you're going to basically try to upsell you.

24:20

What you want to do is you want to bring them along for the journey.You don't want to knock on the door and then open and go, hey, guess what I've got here's a shiny thing And they'll be like, hold on, hold on.I didn't ask for this.You could see my it's it is like, you know, you're knocking on the door like a salesman versus, you know, this guy goes, hey, I know you come in, let's sit down, let's have dinner.

24:40

It's a very different dynamic.I love that so much and I want to implement it right away.Well, at least the way we build, you know, community, it's warm.It's like we just don't want to sell stuff to people with you know like focus on genuine human relationships and not about, it's not about just transactions, right.

25:01

But just giving value to one another basically.So I wanted to understand like what what are your biggest challenges basically, right, like as a, as a maybe you're a senior considered senior consultant right now already because like the four years ago, last time we spoke on roots you're like an associate manager for for design.

25:24

With that now you're like super up there, right?Like how did the challenges evolve for you?Like what challenges are you dealing with now on a?Day-to-day basis, I think when you know going back to that discussion we had about, I think I was sharing about producing stuff, right.So I think when we last spoke, I was part of that that that area of like we're producing stuff to and we're trying to communicate the value of what we're producing, right.

25:47

I'm probably in an area now where in we are trying to show and share with our clients the the value of what we do.Maybe 2 steps above.But I'm also as part of that as a consultancy, the value that you're delivering is your talent.

26:06

And when I mean talent, I mean it's the people in the consultancy like Deloitte is not going to exist if the people at Deloitte are no, no good, like it's as simple as that.Like I said in the beginning, they go to you because you're the experts, right?Like that's so the quality of the people are are paramount to our whole value prop.

26:24

So for me my challenge is now is sort of understanding what a client would need sort of like framing that going, this is what you guys are actually would you know help you and here are the people that would help you deliver it.

26:39

So my challenges, it is a little bit salesmancy, but it's almost I would I would align closer to it's almost more like analysis and planning.So I'm trying to analyse the opportunities, the challenges of the client and then going, OK, well in order to address that, here's the, here's the team make up you need, so here's this, here's your structure, this is this person and that is an expert in this and they'll be delivering this element from.

27:07

So that's sort of where my my current challenges are is is a mix of analysis and resourcing.Basically matching the right talent to the right problem and the the expertise matching right and the make up of that team.

27:23

Yeah, I I joke.It's a bit like trying to put together the Spice Girls because they have to get along.They have to get along.You cannot put 5 smart people that hate each other into a team.They it doesn't work.I don't care how smart those five are individually, it doesn't work.

27:42

They they will.I.Mean how do you apply to, how do you apply design in that you know in that process like farming these teams together and making sure they jive.It goes back to the you remember what I said about the workshop?The workshop.It's that's the approach.You, you.You'll have an initial coffee chat, you'll have a conversation with the person, try to get their gauge, their vibe, what are they interested in?

28:04

What are they passionate in?Because somebody might be really passionate in, let's say, sports, right?Let's give you an example, right, sports.So this person is, I'll give you a profile.I'm not saying this is a real person, I'm just going to give you an example.Right.So this person is a creative director type into sports, you know, very outgoing, strong personality, pretty charming.

28:27

So you've got this person you're like, all right, good.That person's personality makeup along and you can do all the analysis.NFTS, you know, a joke NFTS.But you know, I mean like the the Myers Briggs and all that stuff.But you can, you can do all those things and they're all helpful.

28:47

So you have that you have one archetype now and you go this with this.Based on the client that I've met, will they get along right And so that's check one.They have to get along with the client.That's the that's the very first thing you need to check.

29:04

The second one would be then if you're adding to the team, you're now looking, OK, who would they get along with?So you know, if this is my leader, I need my leader to get along with everyone below them.I'm sorry.I then interview the other folks and have a chat with them.

29:21

See what?Because they might be into sports.And then I speak to this person who's this fantastic designer and I go like, what are your thoughts on sports?And they go, I fucking hate it.I'll be like, OK, we might have some challenges, but there's not a.Room for this qualification already, Like just.

29:36

Because, no, it's one of the things we're just like, OK, what else do you like?And I'll be like, oh, I have, I have a dark sense of humour and I'll be like, OK, that might work with the sports person, sports person.And you might not talk about sports, but you might have the same sense of humor.So I'm like, all right and so this whole, like, like I said, it sucks Spice Girls.

29:55

So you're trying to put together this team.And it's funny because when the team gets along, they really they deliver Like I can like I know this they've been studies and they've they've done all these like I'm sure Google's done all these analysis on it.

30:14

I I can tell you from first hand experience, it's true like I can get two experts, 2 you know high level people and maybe there might be one person who's not always delivering, but the person who's not always delivering because they get along with everyone else, they step up.

30:32

It's interesting to see.You'll see the the, the low performer become a, you know raise their bar because they get along with the team process.If you had all high performers you actually see them suffer when they don't get along with each other.

30:48

So you're thinking oh I've got a dream team, you know I've got like the LA Lakers or something like that.I've got LeBron and and so but they don't get along.It's like you see on the performance that was you're like shit what's happened and so that's where the the challenges are you.It's trying to make sure you create this culture within each project.

31:06

But what if you're like, let's say you're an independent consultant and you're forced to work with specific teams or clients that have their own internal teams.What would be your advice to them?And you know, just building a layer of trust, communicating better, and building relationships.

31:26

So it's funny because that's so one.I'll just say straight away, it's that's tough.I think, let's, let's make that clear for everyone who's who's going, who's in that?You know, like, I feel a lot of people go into that situation.They're going, is it me?And like, no, no, no, no, it's tough.

31:43

If you're a single consultant and you're joining A-Team, you are effectively, you're the new kid at school, right?You're the new teacher or something.And all the kids are just like, who the fuck is this teacher?Right.So you've so you've got to earn your it's the same challenge when you have to earn your stripes and you have to earn the trust.

32:04

But you need to go over the mindset that there there will be a level of you're not quite part of the circle.And so you have to go in with that mindset and go OK, how do I build trust?

32:20

Can I have a coffee, catch up with someone, Can I get to know this person?And you do that same process again of like building trust and having a chat and and being part of their family.And it's it takes a little bit longer because you don't have someone, so it takes a little bit longer to deliver value because you don't have someone from your team to help you.

32:43

Yeah, you can go to you.If you're two of you are together and you go there, you can go, hey, can you do this And I'll do this And you're like, yeah, good job and two of you work together, right?You can't pass that work on to the client most of the time, so it's all on you.So you're doing two things.You're doing 2 jobs.

32:58

You're you're building trust, you're building the relationship and you're delivering work.I want to make that clear that it's tough like the the advice there is, you know, don't don't expect it to be a walk in the park.Go in with the mind so that you are the new teacher, the new student in the new school.Cool.

33:13

That's really helpful advice.So we actually do have a teacher in our team as far only internally like Chad to Via.She's actually a community lead and I was like oh, who is this teacher joining your team?So just you know, shout out but but that's cool and it's it is tough just going back to like the the new grad mindset, right?

33:39

What are the highest leverage things you can do to progress your consultant career faster?Is it just everything that we've talked about?Are there any other mental models that you want to adopt?

33:55

I've I've been trying to find this code for ages.I know Kobe said it.But and I mentioned this in the other podcast about understanding the game, like don't just be the best player also like also know the game.When I was starting out I sought out high value clients.

34:12

That was one of the things that I tried to do.I wasn't trying to find a client just to pay the bills.I was trying to find a client that had high potential.One of the very not first but very early on because I was trying to do it, I was just like and the reason for that is because actually when I when I mentioned that UK studio we were doing like really small websites like for really small mom and pop shops like one of them was like a I can mention this because they're gone now but used to be somebody was selling bouncy castles.

34:45

I don't know if you guys know that but it's the blow up castle and then you kids jump on it, that sort of thing.That's not a high value client like you know what I mean?So and so funny enough what I did was I actually looked for one here in say so here when I say kids back in the Philippines, in the Philippines, someone who did shipping.

35:07

And So what they were trying to do is it was they were trying to do what LBC is doing now.You know when you buy online, it goes into a little like a foreign mailbox and then they bring it to the Philippines, that thing.

35:22

So they were they were trying to do that and this was years ago.This was oh goodness 2006 or something a long, long time ago.And so I tried to, I tried to set that up and the reason for that was, and we did build out the website, but the business didn't continue.But the reason for that was because that was a good demo to other clients to kind of go look at this thing we put it's complex and it's valuable.

35:46

And so that's that was my focus very early on.I kept looking for those clients that I can put on My Portfolio and go look at this one, they're being, they're high value and that was what I felt, I think accelerated us the most because we ended up you know doing work for Envision.

36:03

Obviously, that's a really good way to, you know, hey, we we designed for this company, they're worth $3 billion.So it gives a lot of people pay attention to that.And I actually worked with one of the first clients who's actually a Co founder of Skype.And then I don't know if you guys know Ross Yusupov, but he was a Co founder of mine.

36:21

We did work for like, yeah, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly for all these people.And so being able to speak to that with other clients was, yeah, because it's highly valuable.So yeah, just do good work, but be selective.

36:37

Our core offering, honestly they just give the high value clients to you know these technology consultants like we we do the matchmaking, but like I think it's just tough, right like if if you're starting out and obviously not everyone will have envision on their portfolio.

36:56

We didn't.You started to do the mom and pop.It's that's our point.The Bouncy Castle.So find your you're saying, find your bouncy castle to start with, and then gradually transition to No I.

37:15

Was actually like, I don't wanna keep doing this for the rest of my life.So and you find something else.That's why I was like who's a high value client And that's where I went.Like the logistics?Yeah, the.Logistics one was the one that I think was the first demo to kind of go.

37:33

This is not a website, you know, this is a full blown, you know, digital service business and we did the front and back end all but that was the, that's what I mean like it's a high, it was a high value demo to show what we could.Don't shy away from more complex projects where you can really demonstrate the value that you offer.

37:54

Not just the design stuff, but you know, being very strategic, actually completing the work and publishing that like as a success story and you can then show off to to other clients who can refer you more good work in the future.

38:11

Yeah.You'll be surprised how well how connected they're they are.I think one thing I probably didn't talk about is that when when we were running the consultants in Manila we've we we I'd say 95% of the focus was on foreign clients.The interesting thing about this that they all kind of we the reason why we never advertise is because they all just talked about stuff to each other.

38:34

So we got referred like for like 7 years straight, just referrals.We there was not a single penny spent on advertising.It was all like when the guy from the the Co founder of Skype was like oh thanks you guys did a great job.I want you to meet my friend turns out his friend was like the Co founder of this.

38:53

I want you to meet my friends, the Co founder of this and like it just went on and on and on and on and I said like cool like 7 years never never advertised.And referrals are the, the best possible way to to get to work, you know, and that's amazing.Referrals are superior hoarding or internationally under our back channel on SNAP.

39:14

OK. But that's our philosophy honestly, right? Like warm referrals. And even when you're referring talent, right, if you're fully booked, referrals are always number one. I want to ask you about just being at the beach.So to us this is like relatively new concept, like what's your understanding of being at the beach?

39:36

Cuz as we understand it, that's why it's like you're not under a particular project yet, but you're like kind of learning new stuff or like meeting people.I think the term for us is bench.So you guys call it the beach.We call it the bench.

39:51

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.So it's like in sports, like you're on the bench at the moment.So you're not in court, there's there's a lot of positive ways to to affect that and I'll I'll just share like this is general like all the consulting firms in Australia do this.

40:07

So it's nothing new.When you're on the bench, it's bid time and you are hunting for bids.Like all the time you're hunting and hunting and hunting you're you're looking for.You know we have them in government, they're called RF user requests for.

40:24

For RFPs, request for proposal, RFQS request for quotations or and then all these other requests for you know basically the whole point is it's a bid.You're trying to, you're responding to a bid or you're searching for a bid and that that's the core element.

40:39

So it's a mix of bid work and self teaching.So you know if you want to upskill on anything that's a good time to do it.I think the key thing there is that the bid work, especially if you're presenting in front of client, is actually extremely good training because effectively it's the same skill set You'll need to run a workshop or facilitate, you know, Co design session.

41:05

It's the exact same thing.So getting people to practice putting together a presentation and then walking potential clients through it and then even if you want to, if you want to make it interactive, even better, right?If you know how to make it interactive but not cheesy and you know it's it's that it's a level of price, like learning and creating opportunities at the same time, that's really the thing that we do.

41:28

Oh, I'm interested in that.Like how do you make it creative without being cheesy with no like float floating castles, bouncy castles?Yeah, bouncy castles, I think.I think the key thing there is that there's different ways of approaching this, right?And one of it is obviously one you have to understand why you're in there.

41:46

Like what is the ask, what is the problem that you're trying to solve?And then when you've sort of get a gauge of it, then you kind of plan your workshop and your presentation and your bid around it.In in Australia we have a process when you do submit a proposal which is like a a deck, that's what we call it our proper.

42:05

And then you have it progresses, you know, you get selected, shortlisted etcetera.And then sometimes you have this thing called orals.And orals is when you're basically presenting in person, you might be doing it online, but effectively you're there.The reason for the orals is that the potential client can ask you questions that can go, you know what about this, why did you say this Bamba, right.

42:27

And you're allowed to present a different deck similar to what you have, but you can, you're allowed to present one that's slightly different or more enhanced.So that's one approach.The other approach is if you want to do a visioning workshop with the client and you go, hey, we we, we notice that you've we've submitted this, sorry, we noticed that you've had this request for a proposal.

42:53

We've submitted a proposal.Would you like to do a free workshop with us You know and they're like what's the what does that involve?This is a call.You just have to spend 2 days with us or one day with us doesn't cost you anything.We just need you there in a room for like a couple of hours.Is that something you're happy to do so that we can put a sort of workshop things with you as we can understand what you're what you ask is more what you ask is better etcetera that sort of thinking that's another way to approach it.

43:21

So it's like the.Discovery process like you're refining the problem a bit more and understanding core core motivations from the client.Yeah, 100%.You'll you'll find quite often that the when the client writes out a bid, they think that's their problem.They have this thing I just need.

43:38

I just need Adobe.I just needed Adobe to be implemented, then I'll be OK and then when you do it works.Chat GPD.Yeah, we'll use chat GPD.I just need a chat bot.Can you guys build me a chat bot?And then you do a Visioning Workshop with them and then you you you highlight their true challenges with them and they're going, holy shit, I didn't need chat GPD.

44:01

Like, I need to rethink this in a different way.And it's really, it's enriching for them, It's a risk for you because they might go, oh fuck, I don't actually need you because you've.But at the same time you might have just made them want you more because they, you now understand the problem.

44:19

But you know, it's part of that process, it's part of that bid process.That's extremely helpful and that's not mindset we want all of our consultants to have just essentially being problem centric, not being super in love with a solution, you know, like the normal product thinking kind of approach.

44:40

This is I wrote something about that a long time ago, which is when you do, you have level of assumptions.The assumption slide, and if the problem is an assumption, you have to go really fast and really like rough.

44:56

You're just trying to flesh it out and then once you've validated OK, the problem is true and exists, then you move on to the solution.The solution is now an assumption.You're assuming that the solution is correct.You're you haven't validated it, you know the problem is correct, but you now have to export the right solution for that problem.

45:11

So that's still an assumption.And when you've validated both then you can go into refinement.Because the problem is validated, the solution is validated.Now refine the solution.When you're doing the bit, you're at the very beginning, you're at problem.You're assuming the problem is valid, and if you think that's valid and you're jumping in straight in solution, you might be producing the wrong solution.

45:32

I have a version of this in a in a framework like not not really a framework, but a general exercise.I ask my students to go through like an assumptions tracker where they track like a risk level.

45:48

Well, they write down all of your assumptions, then add what type it is and then add a risk level and a confidence level.So if it's like a higher risk assumption, like you want to do risk that fast and like try to do some discovery research to understand what the real problem is.

46:07

Or is this even needed in the 1st place?Sort of like what you were saying, right?Yeah.My advice there is that you treat every bit as a high risk assumption.That's the way when like all the time that you go in there going humble.I don't know if this is true.

46:23

Yeah, we want Salesforce.I'm just like maybe you do, but let's check and then we do like a.We want sales.Oh, that's a.That's so.Funny.There's a reason why they make so much money, but it's like, let's figure out if that's what your core challenges first, right?

46:41

Cool.That's like super pro consultant, like mindset thinking over there, I want to go into like a quick what do you call this quick fire Q&A with questions from the audience in advance, right like so this is from Mark Caballe.

46:58

What are common questions that clients ask?There's lots of common questions, but I think the key one there is funny enough, is when when can you deliver?What can you deliver and how many people do I need?And so you need to cool.

47:14

So you need to plan that out very quickly.And this one from Leroy, Leroy is one of our top consultants.It's one.So he's asking do you charge based on time or based on results?If results, they provide a guarantee of sorts.

47:29

Both.It's a short answer depending on the client.The guarantee of results is an interesting one.What most consultancies do, and this is like for every consultancy, it's not just the they, they promised deliverables.That's the phrase we use here.

47:45

And so example for deliverable is let's say a report.So I'm not promising that I've upped your income by something something, but I'm promising you a deliverable house report or I might promise you APOC proof of concept and app or I might promise you a Salesforce installation that has these features.

48:03

That's part of the contract that you work out.That's the, that's a deliverables 1 when you and the common thing is what we call time and materials.So that's what I mean by that.There's a bit of time and materials.But there are no like outcome based, I'm sorry, outcome focused like.

48:22

Some some some consultancies will have that agreement.It it does happen.But what that there's a there's a the reason why that's not super popular is because there needs to be an agreement on risk.So it's shared risk and then this is where it gets really hairy in a contracting level because basically what you're saying is I'm going to work with you, let's say, just to give you an example, right, I'm going to work with you.

48:48

And the end goal, the outcome is you have a 3% increase in sales, gross sales just make it bigger, right. 3% increase in gross sales depending on the client, that's that's really big, right?3% for Globe is massive, right?That's, that's, that's hundreds of millions of pesos, right.

49:07

But that is reliant on a number of factors that you don't have any control over.You're consulted, You're helping.You're an expert in your field.And this goes back to the whole conversation.They're an expert in their field.They have to deliver certain things for that to realize.So that becomes quite hairy because now you're saying, OK, we're doing this in agreement based on this, and these are the risks, these risks, and therefore we have to mitigate it in case this happens.

49:32

So there's a lot that goes into that and you have to be very careful that you don't shoulder the risk just to sell the thing.You know, I want to sell this, this, this project.I want to work with this client.Therefore I'm assuming all this risk.It's like be very careful what you wish for.

49:49

You want to be.You want to be in a situation wherein you're as de risked as possible, but still able to do the work.OK.So this one is from Grey.How do you establish domain expertise and find the right pricing?

50:07

One is you actually do need to know market value of similar skill sets to you.You have to understand sort of what the going rate is.You got to, you have to be competitive or at least there's two things here like competitive or you have to be able to communicate your value, right.So a rough example is that, let's say a design consultant charges 700 per hour per day.

50:28

Let's, I'll give you an example, right, $700.00 per day.That is for a second consultant that's had four years of experience, right?Cool.Now you understand that.Are you within the four years or are you much higher?And so with your clientele, etcetera, you can charge more and more.

50:45

If you don't have that level of, you know, like you don't have that that catalogue, you have to accept the fact that you're not going to be able to you.Well, you might be able to, but you're going to have a bit of a struggle in trying to justify, you know, like hey, I want you to pay me 2000 a day.

51:03

It's like hold on, why?Like if you've if you've only done this for three years, why would I be paying you like you?You're going to have to be very good at selling that value.And I think that's the that's the key thing.It's you.There's no there's no science to it.

51:19

There's no, there's no like fixed calculation, you just need to understand the value of bringing.But on that note, you might be an expert in something that is extremely valuable.So as an example, AWS is a a specialised skill.

51:39

There is not a lot of AWS people in in Australia, just to give you an example, right?Therefore, because everyone's fighting over AWS people, your your daily rate is a lot higher than, let's say, if you were doing Microsoft Azure or something, because there's heaps of people doing Microsoft Azure.

51:58

That's it, that you see what I mean?Like, yeah, you might have only been doing it for three years, but there's only 10 of you, so I'm going to pay you more to get.Factory and supply and demand.Yeah, A. 100% so.That's funny to say about because like we've been speaking with a lot of like AWS people in terms of like actual partnerships and you know on the on the AWS side and the talent side as well, there's a lot of our hives are gonna be focused on AWS as well.

52:27

So I'm fine.It's funny you say that and I'm happy to hear that.So all right, next question from Gabe Reyes.What's your pricing structure like for a consultancy?Is it per project or retainer?And if it is retainer, how do you handle scope create?

52:46

That's our last question for for today.No, it doesn't actually work that way.We we have a rate per level so that's every consultancy does the same thing that's nothing new which is you you know the charge out the daily charge output say grad is different from obviously senior manager right.

53:07

There's like there's a there's a scaling out of there if you're putting in a team we have what we call a blended rate so everyone does a blended rate.This is nothing new for every consultancy does this and the blended rate is basically going like how can I mix senior people with junior people to and we can have a price that the client can afford.

53:32

And so that might be some magic in there.When we go the senior president only comes in one day a week because so that they only charge X amount and the the next person comes in more often to make up the difference and all that stuff for president.So we that's what we call a blended rate.

53:49

So that's the.I think that's a simple answer to that question.Cool.That answer might help us at farm more than at the individual level because we take care of all the back office boarding stuff.So like just just people can just focus on the word.But yeah, the last question for you Andre, what's your advice to all the consultants listening to you right now?

54:11

Any any final words or thoughts?Anything top of mind?One thing I will just say is that it's a it's really fun, but it's also really challenging and there is a lot of like there's a lot of time demands, I guess is to the main thing.

54:28

It's 100% not a walk in the park.If you're up for like always getting something fresh in front of you, like a new challenge every time, and you're working with really, really smart people, and I mean really bloody smart people.It's a really good place to be.

54:46

If you are easily stressed and you've got anxiety and all those challenges, it might not be the right place for you.It's a it's a high.It's a high.What's the right word for it or right phrase?It's an industry that that will demand 110% from you.

55:04

Yes, and if you follow Andre's profile, you see how he copes with memes on his on your stories every day.The the coping mechanism is there.I use that on.I also use it with clients.

55:20

Yeah, it's a really good icebreaker.Clients love it.Let's go, let's go.All right.Andre, thanks so much for being on Fractional and hope we see you See more of you soon.Thank you and thanks for having me.