Where Do Online Reviews Fit In?
Selecting a growth strategy consulting firm to work with is an important decision for an organization. With larger enterprise organizations, a typical time horizon for the growth strategy consulting firm’s work output to be used by the client is three to five years. With smaller organizations, the timeline may be shorter, perhaps one to three years. Regardless, the growth strategy choices that are made from the growth strategy consulting firm’s work have a lasting impact.
The question naturally arises, “How to select the growth strategy consulting firm for my organization?” While some decision makers will only consider one option, most will look at a minimum of three firms, and some will entertain a larger set.
The customer journey for growth strategy consulting firms includes:
- need recognition as a prerequisite
- candidate identification by the decision makers
- online research
Growth Strategy Consulting Firms Prerequisite: Need Recognition
Before beginning the customer journey, a prerequisite for the organization is to recognize a need for a growth strategy, and to prioritize this initiative.
The impetus for growth strategy consulting work may come from a number of leaders, who may be the:
- Chief Commercial Officer
- Chief Growth Officer
- Chief Executive Officer
- Chief Marketing Officer
- Vice President or Director of Marketing
- Vice President or Director of Sales
Frequently, a cross functional leadership team is tapped to drive the work, including areas such as R&D (Research and Development), Technology, Operations, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, or Customer Service.
Another approach is for the board of directors or organization’s owners to initiate a growth strategy consulting effort. For instance, the first growth strategy consulting assignment that I worked on while at Booz Allen was initiated by the board of an electrical connector manufacturing firm.
Growth Strategy Consulting Firms: Candidate Identification
Once the need is recognized and prioritized, a typical first step in the customer journey is for the decision makers to develop a list of growth strategy consulting firms to evaluate for the work. Assuming the firm doesn’t already have a preferred growth strategy consulting firm, typical sources for growth strategy consulting firms might include the following:
- Online search for growth strategy consulting firms
- Previous experience of the decision makers with growth strategy consulting firms (i.e., firms and individuals they’ve worked with at other organizations)
- Previous experience of board members, particularly in the instance when the board is driving
- Referrals from former colleagues at other firms
- Industry conferences, associations or events
- Peers from business professional organizations like Vistage or YPO
- Other referral sources, such as friends, community organizations, advisors like accountants or attorneys, etc.
Since growth strategy consulting is a high trust category, Insight to Action’s experience has been that more than 90% of our work comes from previous clients, referrals from previous client to new prospects, and former colleagues who refer us.
Growth Strategy Consulting Firms: Online Reviews and Research
For many product and service categories, online search is the first resource that decision makers use to “do their research.” Many decision makers initially prefer to research online rather than consult with others. This online information gathering and research makes them feel more in control of the situation and informed in speaking with others, and is convenient, time efficient and readily accessible.
Typing “top growth strategy consulting firms” into Google search yields several comparative evaluations from Vault and Case Coach. These sources yield lists of large growth strategy management consulting firms for a decision maker to consider as candidates.
With one exception (Roland Berger), the top 10 management consulting firms that are identified by Case Coach are well known brand names that have been established for years. These include: McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Bain & Co., AT Kearney, Oliver Wyman, Roland Berger, LEK Consulting, Monitor Deloitte, Strategy &, and EY.
The Vault list contains some different firms than Case Coach, notably Accenture and IBM Global Services.
Another source is Consultancy.org, which relies on its:
“unique database of more than 10 million data points per years of clients and consultants, including expertise and consultancy projects delivered in the area of Strategy.”
Forbes also provides a long list of firms, with the ability to filter on Innovation and Growth. Additional firms that emerge from these sources include The Cambridge Group (my former firm), Accenture, Bearing Point, Innosight, Cordence Worldwide, Kaiser Associates and OC&C Strategy Associates.
Employee Perspectives on Growth Strategy Consulting Firms
Employee reviews on Vault for the Best Consulting Firms for Strategy also provide a list of the best consulting firms to work for. Since consulting is a service business, the argument can be made that engaged, satisfied employees will deliver a higher quality work product to the client than less engaged, unsatisfied employees.
Additionally, employees who leave the growth strategy consulting firm often go to corporate strategy roles at the client, where they become purchasers of their former consulting firm employer’s services. As a result, it may make sense for the consulting firm to leave the employee with a good “taste in the mouth” for ongoing business in addition to the many virtues of having a good corporate culture that treats its employees well.
How Many Growth Strategy Consulting Firms Should You Consider?
Combining these lists together yields several strategy consulting firms that are highly rated by sources, including McKinsey, BCG and Bain & Co. in the highest tier. Top 10 and/or rated at 4+ stars from several sources include Deloitte, LEK, Oliver Wyman, Strategy &, EY, KPMG and IBM Global Services. This is a set of as many as 10 firms to start out with, most with arguably premium pricing.
So, how important are these online ratings and reviews, particularly employee reviews, in the decision and selection process for a growth strategy consulting firm? The answer is that these online reviews are an input to one part of the customer journey in exploring firms.
In our experience, few organizational decision-making processes are going to thoroughly examine 10+ larger firms in addition to any others that make the grade for specific specialties and/or proven experience with decision makers. Once the list is narrowed, there are more steps in the process to evaluate the team who will actually work on the growth strategy, the work approach, the engagement with your organization, not to mention the budget and timing.