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Business Development

Defusing A Permanent Shopper

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We all have shoppers who have nothing but time, and want to ask 1,000 questions about our product offerings. Often, with folks like this, the rubber meets the road when you mention a fee. If they're true professional shoppers, they scramble for the nearest exits. In this case, two of our consultants, Mary Ann and Henning, gave our professional colleague a free and cordial office visit.

Then he wanted to see me under the auspices of "possible career or association relationships." We knew Samuel well from professional meetings, and recognized beforehand that no strategic partnership was possible. What Samuel really needed was career help. For some odd reason, he addressed me as "Bill Frank.com" and the subject of his e-mail was "Possibilities." I asked an executive in our company to answer on my behalf, and Samuel remained a friend but never became a client.

From: Samuel Smetana [mailto: smetana@verizon.net]
Sent: September 30, 20— 8:18 PM
To: wsfrank@careerlab.com
Subject: Possibilities

Hi Bill Frank.com,

Wanted to touch bases with you and have been missing you at Association for Corporate Growth meetings.

Hope all's well with you.

Had the pleasure of spending an hour with Mary Ann and Henning in your pleasant and interesting office. Some time in my personal schedule is being freed up in the near future.  I was wondering if we could get together and discuss possible career or association relationships. Let me know what information you might want before we meet.

Since I'm in and out quite frequently, it might be best if you sent a few possible meeting times by email and I can choose from them. 

All the best,


From: Carlisle Jones [cjones@careerlab.com]
Sent: October 1, 20— 1:38 PM
To: Samuel Smetana
Cc: Mary Ann Giancarli; Henning Marks; Bill Frank
Subject: Your e-mail to Bill Frank

Dear Samuel,

Bill Frank forwarded your email to me. We are delighted that you want to move ahead with your career and are seeking our help. In order to get started we require a $300.00 retainer or a credit card number. Please make these arrangements with our office manager Rachel Kupferberg. She can be reached at 303-790-0505. If you have any other questions, contact me at the same number, extension 250. Thanks again for moving ahead, glad to have you as a client.

Carlisle Jones
XVP for Corporate Development

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William S. Frank, M.A.,
25 Reasons I love consulting.
by William S. Frank
  1. Brand. You are your own brand, and you can define it any way you want. For many years, I provided outplacement to the ex-employees of Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield service corporation. When departing employees left the company, they didn't request outplacement in their severance package. They said, "I want Bill Frank."
  2. Demand. The world will always be full of terrible problems that need solving.
  3. White Hat. I can be a helper and get paid for it.
  4. Pay. I can be paid to do things I'd gladly do for nothing.
  5. Variety. Every day is different.
  6. Happiness. At this stage of my career, I only work for people I respect and care about. If a client micromanages me or is otherwise no fun, I complete the assignment and replace them.
  7. Talent. I'm using 110% of my talents and stretching myself to the max.
  8. Change. I can change my focus any day I want. If you're a McDonald's franchisee, you don't say, "Hey, I've got this great idea for a meatball sandwich—let's try it out today." In consulting you can adjust your focus hour-by-hour, as long as your clients still understand and appreciate what you do.
  9. Income. No one else would pay me as much as I pay myself.
  10. FUN. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.
  11. Retirement. I can write and consult as long as I am physically and mentally capable. Peter Drucker worked into his 90s, and when asked which book was his best, he said: "My next one."
  12. Job Security. Although clients come and go, no one can come into my office and say, "Pack up your stuff . . . You don't work here anymore." In 29 years, I've only had one employer: ME.
  13. Travel. I don't have to travel unless I decide to. I travel if it's both FUN and profitable—or at least FUN.
  14. Commute. I live five minutes from my office, a corner office in an upscale six-story tower. In winter, I leave a heated garage at home and drive to an underground heated garage at work. There's seldom time to hear even one song on the radio.
  15. Vacation. Consulting is more fun than vacation (except on Wailea Beach in Maui).
  16. Friends. I have developed hundreds of close acquaintances and several lifetime friends.
  17. Time. I can work as much or as little as I like: four-hour days or 18-hour days. (Of course, my income will reflect that.)
  18. Employees. I can work with employees, subcontractors, partners, or alone—I've done it all.
  19. Passive Income. I've developed several products that provide "mailbox money." I earn while I'm sleeping.
  20. Ethics. I've never had to violate my values or personal code of ethics. I've never had to lie, purposely deceive or harm others, or promise things I can't deliver. I go to bed with a clear conscience. That doesn't mean there's never any conflict. But the conflict is conducted according to generally accepted business practices.
  21. Virtual. My career is fairly portable. With the Internet, e-mail, cell phone, and FedEx, I can work nationally, even internationally from my office—or anywhere in the world.
  22. Purpose. I make a difference in peoples' lives every day. I see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, and read it in their thank-yous.
  23. Experience. Every painful or joyful life experience makes me a better consultant. So does every person I meet or book I read. Grey hair can be good in consulting.
  24. Structure. I have to work very hard, and the clients expect superb results—but I get to structure my days, weeks, months, and years.
  25. Boss. Most of the time, I love my boss.
As I was posting these letters online, I realized I want to communicate my love for consulting. It's just a great business. The single letters, taken together, may create a picture of enjoyment, but in a burst of creativity I listed some of the reasons consulting is such a good fit for me—and perhaps for you, too. They are not prioritized; this is just how they came out.