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Tips: Staying in the Game when Clients' IT Spending is Down

Even before the September 11th terrorist attacks, IT spending has been constrained this year. Many pundits believe things won't pick up until at least the second quarter of '02. CIO's are being told to keep a sharp eye and a sharp pencil on IT budgets. What does this mean for the IT consultant? And is there anything a consultant can do to bolster his or her position?

Make sure you talk the same talk as your client. You know they are concerned about ROI, quicker returns, and projects tied to reducing costs or improving efficiencies. So demonstrate tangible cost savings. Illustrate how the use of a professional, knowledgeable consultant (you!) renders maximum productivity and bottom-line efficiencies. Show areas of the business where there is room for improvement (i.e., cost savings).

It's a bit like using the "reflective" listening/communications technique, where you mirror the style of the other person-but instead of reflective speaking, it's reflective thinking.

Of course, you must first thoroughly understand your clients' business goals before you can find areas where money can be saved. Sure, this is more readily accomplished when you are in a current engagement and have spent some time "living and breathing" the client. But even on a first interview, you can show how you've saved past clients money or improved certain processes, which sends the signal to the prospective client that you're much more than your technical skill sets-you're a thinker who thinks like they do.

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