How to Become a Healthcare Consultant: Define Your Service and Eliminate Scope Creep

Today’s chat is with John Butler, of JB Benefits Consulting.  John’s business is a consulting firm that focuses on resolving healthcare issues for small to midsize employers.

John began the program for the simplest reason: he wanted a business coach to provide guidance for his consulting practice: how to make a sale, how to get more clients, how to deal with problems that pop up.  What he got was far more than he expected.

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As a participant in the program, John was (pleasantly) surprised to learn how to take control of his own consulting arrangements by productizing his services. This new perspective helped him rediscover specific technology he had previously dismissed as superfluous.

Focused Thinking and The Elimination of Scope Creep

When one hears the word “consultant,” it conjures a variety of definitions and job functions. But the core of what a consultant does is bring their experience and expertise to the table, ask new questions , and hopefully provide solutions.  

One major failure of a typical consulting arrangement is “scope creep,” the tendency for a project to expand over time. The nature of the project might change as more information is obtained or the real problem is unearthed.  This forces the consultant to go back, change the proposal (scope) of work , and renegotiate terms/payment. And in a truly disorganized system, this can happen multiple times.

“Scope creep is dramatic in a consultant’s practice unless you have some kind of control over it,” said John.  John has been a consultant for 30 years with numerous experiences in which he thought he had found the client’s problem, only to find out there was something more and a new proposal was required. Unfortunately this can be a perpetual (unprofitable) loop for the consultant.

Thanks to the program, John no longer has this problem.  Now John has streamlined and customized a 60-day transformation in distinct steps which he controls.  He is the “doctor in the room,” and his time is spent driving the solution, not negotiating one-off issues. 

If the client ever tries to pull him off the agreed-upon track, he can stop the process and correct it.   He can say to the client, “Don’t veer away right now, because we’re trying to do something here.  We’re solving this problem and this pain in 60 days, and you have to just stay with the steps, and we'll get there.”

Precision Brings New Opportunities

Before joining the program, John thought social media was shallow, and generally a waste of time. He was brought up “old-school” and always sold/delivered consulting in a local, face-to-face format.  

Now he knows, that social media, used intelligently, can accelerate his goals and his business.  This clarity came from his efforts in productizing his expertise. He became more specific and more clear about what problem he could solve (and where those people can be found online). With this outline he saw a new opportunity, “Now that I know what I'm solving for, I can help these people.” 

John said, “I not only can do this locally, but I could do this nationally. That's what really sparked a fire in me.”

With this expanded thinking, John realized there are “no enemies,” in his business, just opportunities.  “If there are other businesses around the country, that don't actually have the knowledge of what I have right now, I want to spread this thing like wildfire.  Employees, employers, brokerage firms. Everybody. And the only way I can do it is through social media if I wanted to do it quickly.”

What Are You Trying to Do with This Business?

John appreciated the level of detail in the program. It was a complete approach with the details already thought through. His journey began with a specific strategic focus. What was he trying to do from the very beginning of his consulting practice?

John reflects on how his thoughts developed during the experience, “You're a consultant. But what are you trying to do? What are you excited about? How can you actually make a difference as opposed to the other brokers around the country?  And so this is a bigger animal than even I thought when I first started this.”

John’s biggest takeaway was this simple reminder: whether you're a sales person or a consultant, 1) you need to ask questions, and 2) you need to shut up and listen to the answers.  You need to let the person talk and express what their pain is - not what you think their pain is.  

John has felt his opportunities get bigger and bigger and more exciting as he moved through the program.

Zero In on Your Expertise

To anyone considering joining the program for coaching, John would say that the program will help you zero in on exactly what you're offering and put together  a step-by-step resolution of the core problem you prospect is facing.  It will give you a systematic way of taking charge of your consulting service, avoid the hazards of scope creep and develop a clear approach to take control of your arrangements.

"Focused Like a Laser Beam!"

Inspired by what he has learned thus far, John is more motivated than ever to keep moving forward and position himself properly.  He’s in the process of setting up a new offering through which he can promote his services nationwide through social media.  He is “focused like a laser beam” on just exactly what he wants to do, how he wants to do it, and how he is different from the other experts in his field.  Way to go, John!

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