Q&A with Pamela Campagna, BLUE SAGE Consulting

Q&A with Pamela Campagna, BLUE SAGE Consulting

An Interview with Pamela Campagna | President, BLUE SAGE Consulting, Inc.

What do you most like about your job?

Because I work with many companies and organizations, I’m able to carry what I learn from one situation to another. The variety and the constant challenge of solving client problems are really intriguing. As a Certified Management Consultant (CMC®), I am bound by the requirements of a global organization to deliver quality results in an ethical manner.

Why does your work stand out from others that do what you do?

My clients can speak to that: “I had the pleasure of working with Pam at a few firms, one where I hired her as a consultant to help launch new marketing and sales initiatives under an extraordinarily tight timeline. Pam is a strategic thinker who cuts through the noise and identifies the high impact issues and opportunities. She maps out clear plans and then tirelessly executes. Pam just jumps in and does what it takes to achieve the desired targets and immediately earns the respect of the teams she works with. I would highly recommend Pam! “

What questions are you commonly asked, and how do you answer?

Many clients aren’t sure how to work with a consultant. One common question is: “I’m not sure where to get started.” Once the client begins to describe the issue in their business (and with my prodding and probing and discussion), I can get a general sense of where we need to start and how I can help them. Sometimes we “don’t know what we don’t know”. That’s where I come in!

If I were a client, what should I know about your business?

There’s no magic in consulting. Just like many other professions, there are methodologies and processes and best practices that can be followed. Being able to solve problems, think strategically and act with urgency to improve the client’s situation should be the most important role that a consultant can play. Consultants who are committed to the business of consulting and have a lot of successes under their belt can save companies a lot of time and money.

What is the most memorable client engagement that you’ve had?

Several years ago, I was contacted by a company that was looking for help to reorganize their sales organization. Once I started to ask what product they sold (and to whom), what the plans were for products and services in the future (they weren’t sure), how profitable each product was (less sure) and what the business strategy was for the company….we realized that what was missing was a strategy for the company and specific plans to implement it. The sales force wasn’t broken. The company’s strategy was. We started what turned out to be a 4-year engagement, by working on their strategy, then on their product line offerings and go-to-market plan. The engagement was especially worthwhile for the client as it moved their business into a direction much quicker than they had imagined.

Are most of your engagements that long and complex?

By its very nature, the work that I do involves many elements of the client’s business. Whether it’s creating a marketing strategy or developing a program for customer retention, the consulting work tends to be more complex. However, there have been many instances where the project was straightforward and the goals were clear so the work that we did was mostly to execute the project.

What are the most common types of work that you do for your clients?

Our clients in B2B, manufacturing, technology, healthcare, and non-profit organizations look to us for:

  • short-term help on a business issue
  • long-term advice on operational improvements
  • growth strategies for a lagging product line
  • skills development for teams and individuals
  • guidance on how to develop marketing initiatives
  • leadership for change and transformation initiatives
  • operating model and process improvement development
  • special, unstaffed projects

The projects and engagements span a wide range: we’ve gone to Capitol Hill with a client to support their lobbying efforts as part of their business development strategy. We’ve developed distribution plans and processes with Amazon for another client. We’ve worked with a large pharma to understand the impact of their investment in medical education. Dozens of engagements have included product launches, services implementation, press and analyst relationship development and staff development. And every single engagement is unique.

How do you stay up to date on tools and happenings in your industry?

In addition to my consulting practice, I am an Adjunct Professor at Boston College and a Professor of Practice at Hult International Business School where I teach Leadership, Strategy, and Marketing. The combination of in-the-field experience with my clients, and teaching and collaborating with students and faculty in higher education are a great source of information and inspiration. In addition, we invest our resources in continuing education and ongoing personal development.

Can you name a few trends that you think will have an impact on the consulting industry?

The landscape of the workplace is changing. The concept of a “job for life” doesn’t really exist anymore. The distinction between a contractor (someone who is between jobs or who is a person-for-hire) and a consultant (someone who follows a specific competency framework and builds a business) is confusing to companies that are looking to hire a competent supplement in their organization. Often, the alternative of a large agency or a big consulting firm is too cumbersome for companies that want to get a job done quickly without a lot of overhead.

The trend of “talented resources on demand” will continue and offers an opportunity for consultants like me and the BLUE SAGE team to provide value to clients who are looking for proven results from a team of experts who have years of experience in a number of businesses and challenging situations.

Does this mean that you work alone?

Actually, it really depends on the needs of the client and the requirement of the engagement. In some cases, I work alone on a particular project or as a retainer-based outsourced consultant. Other times, the project may require subject matter expertise or additional bandwidth to be completed. In that situation, I call on BLUE SAGE Associates with whom I’ve worked over the years. They work for the client as part of my team. In addition, I often work with internal teams in the client organization to get the job done.

What are some of the pitfalls of the business?

I’ve spent thousands of hours on 100s of projects helping my clients to navigate through change, build their strategy and run their businesses. I can typically get a sense of how the working relationship with the client will be, based on how discussions go as we figure out how to work together. I can also get a sense of how challenging an engagement will be based on early interactions with potential clients.

Sometimes, the early interactions are an indication that the working relationship is not a good fit. Take, for example, the company in New York that was looking for help to get their marketing activities and infrastructure in shape as they were preparing to seek another round of funding from an investor. I was introduced to the company through one of the key stakeholders and had several conversations and meetings with their leadership. After that first meeting, it became very clear that the President of the company didn’t understand how a “solid” company might run – as they themselves had very little business experience. That’s not unusual, and it allows a consultant to be a “teacher” as well as a consultant. It also became clear during that first meeting that the President was more comfortable doing the work that he had always done instead of taking on more of a leadership role. He spent his days writing copy for the website and code for the product instead of building a team to take that product to market and sell it.

I’m a firm believer in studying best practices and learning by them. I believe in having a sense of urgency and driving toward a goal in an organized fashion. In this case, indecision and “business as usual” were the way that this company runs, and they were not prepared to take action to change. So for them, the timing wasn’t right and it was clear to me that the client was not a good fit for BLUE SAGE as I could not serve them well. In this case, I respectfully pulled out of discussions and I continue to stay in touch with the stakeholder if I can help them in the future.

What is the best way to determine if working with a consultant is the right thing for a business leader?

I rarely come across a leader who thinks that they “need a consultant” in their business. Typically, there is a business need – a pain, a challenge, an opportunity – that needs some attention. Sometimes an objective perspective from an outside third party is what’s required. In any of these scenarios, a qualified consultant should be able to get a sense of the business need and outline areas that might be explored. There are different methodologies that we use depending on the nature of the business problem and the level of complexity. In some cases, it may be as simple as defining a plan and then moving to implement and manage the plan. Either way, the best way to understand whether or not a consultant is a good solution for a business leader is to start a conversation.


New Year, New Resolve, New Perspective

New Year, New Resolve, New Perspective

Perhaps, like many people around the world, you made New Year Resolutions as last year rolled into this one. Items such as eating healthier, getting organized and losing weight typically top the list of resolutions people commit to in the waning hours of New Year’s Eve. Many business leaders take advantage of the fresh start of a new year as well, vowing that this will be the year they conquer social media, expand their marketing efforts, improve their leadership skills or finally add some expertise to their bench.

January 1st dawns bright with promise and bursting with potential. The unfortunate reality, however, is that January 31st often shows no sign of the changes avowed just a few weeks earlier. A stunning 92% of people who make resolutions abandon them completely, afraid/unwilling/unsure of how to make the changes necessary to be successful.

How can you reach your goal?

Want to ensure that you’re in the 8% of people who make (and keep) their resolutions?  A careful look at the habits of people who keep their resolutions provides insight into how to make sure you’re one of the few who maintain their resolve through the year.

Statistically, simply by making a resolution, you’re more likely to be successful at attaining success than those who don’t bother to make any commitment to change. (Seems rather obvious, doesn’t it?) It’s an important distinction, though. To be successful at improving or progressing, you must first determine where to make a change, and what the change needs to be. Put your resolution in writing as both a reminder and a commitment to yourself.

Another important component in reaching any goal is seeking professional help. In addition to acting as an accountability partner, a professional adviser can provide you with expertise and insight that can help you to determine what changes can and should be made to propel you to success. In your personal life, it could mean hiring a personal trainer, signing up for a class or learning a new language from a native speaker.  For the business professional, partnering with a consultant may be exactly what you and your company need to reach new levels of success this year. A skilled expert can move you in the right direction.

What kind of consultant should you hire?

Do a quick internet search for ‘business consultants’ and you’ll get thousands of results. How do you know what type of consultant you need and which one would be the best to help you accomplish your goals? Finding the right consultant is imperative for your success. Look for a consultant who can offer assistance in multiple areas of business management, with proven success and verifiable client testimonials. Consultants with strong accreditations and experience in the business world will be able to readily identify areas that need improvement and offer you both support and advice.

What sets BLUE SAGE Consulting apart?

BLUE SAGE has been in the consulting field for decades, with accreditations and accolades and experience from some of the biggest names in the business world. (Find out more about us here.)

Prior to joining BLUE SAGE, our team of experts worked in a variety of fields, handling real-world business challenges and opportunities faced by market-leading public and private enterprises. From assessment, strategizing and execution, BLUE SAGE Consulting stays with our clients every step of the way. Regardless of the size of the organization, BLUE SAGE offers hands-on, focused attention to help our clients figure out exactly what they need to succeed. Most important, we not only get our clients to that point, but we also roll up our sleeves to work alongside our clients to make it happen.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a look at some of the issues that you may be facing in your organization this year and exploring how BLUE SAGE Consulting can help your business thrive in the coming months.

Don’t let your resolutions fall by the wayside. Let BLUE SAGE Consulting help you develop a strategy for success and move from “I should…” to “I did.”

Contact us today to find out how we can make this year the one when you get things done.

4 Reasons Why You Should Use a Business Management Consultant

4 Reasons Why You Should Use a Business Management Consultant

Even though your business is considered successful, you still feel like there’s more that can happen; you’re just not sure how or what. You’ve thought about hiring a business consultant but don’t really think that it’s worth the expense because you’re not sure how they can help you.

Being so close to your business, it’s hard to see how an outsider could really understand what’s needed and how to do it without being a part of the business. The ability to see your business objectively and provide you with active, viable solutions is part of the process of working with a business consulting professional.

Working with a management consultant means you’re ready to do what’s necessary to help your business thrive. The first step is finding the right fit.

Learn New Skills

Chances are your business marketing strategy may not be bringing the best results. Business consultants will put your strategy under the microscope and work with stakeholders in your business to implement techniques that optimize opportunities, and bring qualified leads through the door. Skills like project management, resource utilization and problem identification can make a big difference in your business. The more you learn about how to implement these skills in your business, the better prepared you’ll be to implement the necessary steps to succeed.

Create Business Systems

Creating a business system forces you to address the specific steps you need to take to succeed. When you’re that focused, you’re forced to think things through and make better decisions. Being a business manager means that you’re wearing a lot of hats and probably judging competing priorities. A business management consultant can provide the experience, objectivity and focus that will help you improve your business and make it more adaptable.

Change Behaviors

We know the old adage,  “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”,  but when you change behavior, you can often change consequences. Most business managers are focused on things that prompt behavior, such as managing expectations or adhering to company norms, instead of things that can have a significant impact on future behavior, like trying new ideas or embracing culture change. Working with a business management consultant helps to create an environment where positive consequences can be encouraged, and new ideas can be tested.

Discover New Opportunities

Business consultants spend their time working with a variety of organizations, which helps to build extensive networks, strategic partnerships and joint ventures. Whether you’re building a new business or entity, growing a line of business, or maintaining a steady stream of business, a business management consultant can work with you to identify ways to expand your business in ways that minimize costs and maximize exposure.

Poking, Prodding, Producing: The 3P Method of Business Management Consulting

Poking, Prodding, Producing: The 3P Method of Business Management Consulting

Those of you who are familiar with us know that we take a somewhat unique approach to business management consulting.

In addition to the research, reporting and advisements of traditional consultants, we actually enjoy getting our hands dirty with execution.

That sounds a bit gruesome, doesn’t it?

What we’re trying to say is that we don’t just determine the appropriate course of action; we roll up our sleeves and help make it happen. Over the years – as we’ve helped clients of all sizes and industries – we eventually codified this process. Today, it’s known to us (and now you) as the “3P” method of business consulting: poking, prodding and producing. Again, context is everything when it comes to business lingo, isn’t it?

Anyway, if you’re unfamiliar with this approach, we wanted to briefly outline the basics in the event that you or someone you know might be looking for more value from a business consultant. So with that in mind, allow me to quickly explain the benefits of this approach by pillar. Here we go…

Poking: In the world of business management consulting, nothing is ever as it appears. The client knows there is a problem (why else would they contact a consultant?) but often times they are not entirely sure what that problem actually is. A lot of consultants simply take their word for it and immediately begin working on a solution. We take an alternate route. Instead of accepting the client’s version of the problem, we examine the business ourselves, and in doing so, we often end up drawing much different conclusions. In other words, we make sure we’re trying to solve the right problem.

Prodding: Once we’ve identified the underlying issue, we dig deep into the details. What factors are contributing to the problem and making it worse? Are the problems a result of people, processes or systems? Are they caused by a lack of planning, a lack of execution or a misinterpretation of data? Unlike the first phase, this process is highly collaborative, as we spend a great deal of time interviewing key stakeholders  (as well as customers in some instances) to determine the specifics of a particular challenge.

Producing: The problem has been identified, along with the symptoms. Next comes the fun part. Now it’s time to create and implement a solution. As you might expect, this process varies greatly depending on the client and their specific challenge. They might be launching a new inbound marketing initiative and need to remodel their business plan or revise their sales process. They might be looking to increase operational efficiency and need an overhauled operating model. Or, they may need additional resources to be on-site as needed, to understand their business and address challenges in real time. Whatever the challenge, we take the lead to address it.

It’s the “producing” part of the approach that separates us from the vast majority of business management consultants out there. Today’s businesses are increasingly looking for more tactical, hands-on execution, not just suggestions on the appropriate course of action.

This isn’t a big change for us – it’s what we’ve been doing for more than a decade.

Does this sound like an approach that can move your business further? If so, drop us a note.

How to Know How Far to Go: Business Lessons From the Mountains – Part I

How to Know How Far to Go: Business Lessons From the Mountains – Part I

I recently hiked two 4,000-foot peaks in the White Mountains. This may not seem like a big deal to many – unless you’re afraid of heights like I am. Regardless, I decided to join in on a trip to the White Mountains, thinking, “How difficult could this be”?

I learned there’s a big difference between walking or running seven miles and hiking seven miles! 

Call it blind faith or dumb luck, but we made it there and back – and learned a few things along the way.

Lesson 1: Start with a Committed (and Experienced) Team

I knew that I would be with hikers who were more experienced than I was – one of our companions was looking to complete his list of “4,000’ Peaks Climbed”.  In fact, the reason that I had signed up for this hike was to join a friend of mine – a nice way to spend a Saturday, right? When we arrived at the trailhead, it was cold, damp, foggy and rainy.  Two of our members (including my friend) opted to stay back and enjoy a warm fire and lunch and drinks at a nearby restaurant.  I decided to continue on and do the hike with 6 other strangers.  After all, it was only seven miles, the rain had stopped and I figured we’d be home before dinner.

Lesson 2: Be Ready for the Pitfalls

Each hiker shared thoughts about the upcoming adventure as we prepared for our journey.  The experienced hikers talked about routes, rain, wind, and fog. The novices (like me) talked about bathroom facilities, warm clothes, and lunch. We were all anxious to get started.  Little did we know what was ahead of us. John Assaraf of “The Secret” fame describes the road to achievement and self-development much like driving a car in the dark: you may not be able to see what lies beyond the range of your headlights, but as you come closer, you can see more clearly. We were ready.

Lesson 3: Take Things as They Come

We planned to cover two 4,000 foot peaks in the White Mountains: Mt. Osceola and its counterpart, East Osceola. We scaled the first peak and forged ahead.  Stepping over rocks and trying to stay on eroded paths, we encountered unpredictable trail conditions.  At each turn and elevation, the terrain presented a new challenge (especially for the novices in the group, like me), and we plodded along, chattering the entire way. I noticed that when the chatter stopped, the terrain became more treacherous – a sign that we needed to pay more attention to what was ahead.

Lesson 4:  Find Your Own Pace

The hiking group included novice and seasoned hikers alike.  As time went on, the more seasoned hikers trudged ahead of the rest of the group, acting like scouts who returned to report what was ahead.  It was not unusual for others in the group to drop back and wait for those of us who moved more slowly across the challenging terrain. We developed a kind of rhythm throughout the day, with smaller groups moving together, each at our own pace.

Have you conquered a challenge and applied it to business? What sort of business lessons have you learned?