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This article is written by LawSikho.

The number one concern of many aspiring POSH consultants we speak to every day is – How can they get new clients? 

What makes a client decide to go ahead with a particular consultant for POSH implementation? 

How can they convince clients to pay a premium for their services? 

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After working with several Fortune 500 companies, technology startups, construction and infrastructure companies, industry bodies and government departments on POSH implementation and training other POSH consultants on obtaining consultancy work, we have identified three major barriers which come up for POSH consultants-

1.Absence of a Structured Engagement Plan

A client, usually a company with 10+ employees that approaches a POSH Consultant has few pointers or necessities with respect to the kind of consultancy in the arena of the prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace which it requires, specifically. 

As already stated, the number of such POSH Consultancy firms has grown immensely with the change in times and the market need. Now how would an organization be willing to take the expertise of a POSH consultant mostly depends on the value they are going to offer them on the basis of their requirement. 

Does the POSH consultant simply undertake basic POSH compliance or are they able to create value in the process, apply customization to the way POSH is implemented in the organization depending on the different work environments is what would be the tipping point in hiring the services?

So, how does a POSH Consultant demonstrate that value to the organization that seeks his/her expertise in the entire process?

The answer is very simple. 

A structured engagement plan is to be created that would ensure a deeper engagement, instead of a mere surface-level plan that matches the necessities and the working environments of specific organizations.

Components of a structure engagement plan could include a process detailed for engagement. For example, a predetermined list of questions can be sent to the organization to identify the details of the requirements and nuances. This list is to be consciously thought out for each type of client. We call this a ‘requirement analysis form’.  It forms the basis for preparing a watertight proposal as the next step. 

When you send the requirement analysis form, it can be coupled with a profile, but not a specific proposal, until you have the requirements in.  

Next, a process for starting the engagement is necessary. Some consultants have a minimum charge, let’s say of INR 50,000 for a particular kind of work. They refuse to work if they are paid anything less than that. 

This leads to failure of a lot of prospective deals. 

Instead, you can have a phased engagement plan so that you can commence work for different types of clients in a small way. This format helps in building trust. Once the client experiences your service and is satisfied, he or she may move to the next phase and rope you in for a larger engagement. 

The key here is to be able to identify the different aspects of implementation and the challenges which the client will face beforehand and map it into the proposal document, which is why the requirement analysis process is very crucial. 

If you have done a thorough job, the client will realize the difference in value which you provide in comparison to other consultants sooner or later. 

2. Rigidity

No matter how experienced or successful you are, you will always find situations you have not faced earlier. Clients will come up with the most unique kinds of scenarios. 

New situations and new client demands will arise and you will need to cater to them.

You may need to revamp your entire engagement plan and brochure from time to time. It is literally a continuously evolving document for you. 

You cannot be rigid about how you render your service. 

You cannot blindly implement the text of the law. You will need to identify how it applies to specific situations, especially those which are not directly covered under the law. Many lawyers hesitate to risk into this territory, but as a consultant, you need to identify creative ways for the organization to move forward after highlighting the risks.

You also cannot hope to standardize your entire service offering. There is a limit to the amount of standardization possible. A product company will want to standardize everything, but as a consultant, if you want to earn more, you will have to be flexible and focus on customization and experience. A consultant earns a premium because of the customization and the client’s satisfaction and experience.

Let me share another example of being rigid. Some consultants refuse to cooperate with the company’s HR if it organizes software-based training from third party vendors and does not engage them for training.

They have an all or none approach – either engage them fully or not at all.

These are not win-win scenarios and can damage your prospects.

Instead, why not deliver the greatest experience to a client in whatever they ask you to do, so that they come back to you for more?   

If you win their trust, you can do a lot more work for them and even earn referrals. 

Let us take another example of rigidity. A few companies will come up with the specific requirements to the POSH consultants like holding separate sessions for men and women employees while some would want a joint session. in most cases, a POSH consultant, given the sensitive nature of the provisions of the act can try to explain the company for the pros of holding a session together for both male and female employees, but in cases where the workplace doesn’t agree, it is for the POSH consultant to leverage their training session in such a way that the employees are able to accrue maximum value out of it instead of declining the project straightaway. Flexibility and adaptability are a sine qua non for POSH consultants.

3. Vague Proposals

Several POSH consultants do not have a brochure they can send a prospective client quickly, or it is a one-size-fits-all brochure/ PPT which does not attract the imagination of the client to the document.

A client cannot appreciate the value of the service or its relevance after going through the proposal. 

Before POSH Consultants can secure a project from companies, the scope of what the organization expects out of the consultant is necessary.

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Second, any specific modifications that may be needed based on the organization’s nature of work and industry sector must be pre-identified. This is your greatest opportunity to identify new areas of value addition.

Maybe the client wants a specific module for what are the do’s and don’ts for interacting with work-from-home consultants.  

Maybe the client needs specific training for staff which is customer-facing.  

Maybe factory-workers need a different kind of training than employees working from the corporate office and the branch office. 

Maybe the sensitization program needs some translations.

Maybe the ICC needs a specific standard operating procedure to deal with complaints. 

The ability of a POSH consultant is put to the test here. 

Have you faced any of the situations above? Did you have a good deal fall through because of any of the above scenarios?

Comment below and let us know.   

How can you address the barriers above?

You will notice that it requires a high level of exposure and practical skills, along with some practice on how to render services and pitch to a client. You can find more about it in this course. 

Please note that if you’ve been our student for the Certificate Course in POSH earlier (Self-paced course), you can upgrade to the Executive Certificate course in POSH which also has online live classes, live doubt clearing sessions and practical exercises. 

You can comment below and tell us how can you do the same or if you’re still confused, schedule a call with our career counsellors.

P.S. Before we sign off, we want to share a free e-book prepared by our team on sexual harassment at work in India HERE. 

Students of Lawsikho courses regularly produce writing assignments and work on practical exercises as a part of their coursework and develop themselves in real-life practical skill.

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