How to Make the IMPACT Your Clients Need


“They’ve given us 30 minutes to present our Concept. How do we make the IMPACT our clients need?”

My client, prominent in the field of international development, was competing to win a $30 million grant. They were needed guidance about how to use their 30 minutes in the most powerful way.

I read the materials sent by their customer and saw that they’d been asked 8 questions. The customer wanted more informatin about my client’s proposed  Concept.

It seemed obvious to me they should speak about those 8 questions for 30 minutes.

This was a slap-upside-the-head moment for them.

They know their work inside and out, which I do not, but they couldn’t see the customer concerns that were so obvious to me.

This is an instance of IMPACT. Once I gave them this guidance, they were off and running and were able to deliver a powerful and compelling response.

How does this apply to you?

Too many knowledge services firms struggle with describing what IMPACT they deliver. If they can’t do that, then it follows that they can’t get compensated for that impact.

Let’s define IMPACT

IMPACT is created in two ways:

  1. Your knowledge and expertise change the trajectory of the client’s work and business.
  2. Your client enjoys remarkable and valuable outcomes due to your knowledge and expertise.

In any given project, your work may make an impact in one or both ways.

The point is the client is significantly better off due to your knowledge and expertise.

Time is not a factor

Notice that I’ve never mentioned time in my story or in my definition of IMPACT. Only knowledge and expertise.

I spent about 90 minutes reading the materials. Then I made recommendations to my  client about what to cover in their 30 minute presentation. The IMPACT  was that my insight and guidance changed their trajectory and the outcome. No hourly rate would come close to compensation commensurate with the IMPACT delivered.

What’s Your IMPACT on Clients?

You can’t–and won’t–charge IMPACT based fees until you have confidence that you are delivering IMPACT. Here are several ways to identify your firm’s IMPACT on clients.

  1. Change the trajectory of the client.
    1. CPA: You revise the format of financial statements to help the CEO use them as a decision-making tool. The CEO makes decisions based on this new format and the company begins a period of strong growth.
    2. E-Commerce expert: You incorporate new e-commerce tools into a firm’s website. The firm begins to see, for the first time, meaningful revenue from their website.
    3. Regulatory compliance expert: You recommend a series of new steps in your client’s customer services division and complaints rapidly decline. Customer satisfaction and revenue increase.
  2. Change the outcome of the client
    1. Human Resources Consultant: You implement a DEI program which proves so successful that the firm is voted a “Best Place to Work” the following year.
    2. Attorney: You help the partners of a company strengthen their partnership agreement. One year later they sell the company for twice the amount they had anticipated under their previous agreement.
    3. Videographer for Non-Profits: The video you produce inspires donors to make larger contributions and the organization exceeds its fundraising goal by 50%.

IMPACT Is Quantitative or Qualitative

I describe the variety of ways firms deliver IMPACT. This emphasizes that the value of your knowledge is not always connected to a measurable quantitative result.

Notice that in the examples above, the IMPACT delivered is not always a specific quantitative amount. Qualitative impacts are equally valuable to the clients. It takes practice to speak with confidence about qualitative IMPACTS. Don’t shy away from those; practice them again and again until they are second nature in your conversations with clients.

What’s Next for You?

Here’s an idea! Schedule a Think Tank with me. Ask your IMPACT based fee questions and I’ll give you at least a few steps you can take to get started immediately on your future. Text THINK TANK to 703-801-0345.

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