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What is consulting?
Consultancy, by definition, is the work of a person that provides advice. In the world of engineering, and more specifically in process control, that person not only provides engineering services but also may provide other technical services, such as auditing, justification, system evaluation, participation in installation, commissioning, and startup activities.
A consultant is a person with sound knowledge and extensive experience. The person has skills and talent to provide a certain expertise to people and organizations lacking this expertise and in need of it. A professional consultant makes that expertise available to clients for a fee. The scope of a consultant is typically shaped by the client's needs.
Is there a need for consultants? The need for a consultant generally occurs when an organization's internal staff lacks the special skills or expertise to resolve an issue or problem. The organization is then typically faced with three options; training its staff for the task, hiring full-time employees with the expertise for the task, or retaining a consultant.
The advantages of an outside consultant are such that
• the objective can be reached in a short period of time,
• the client obtains highly skilled and experienced personnel relatively cheaply and used for a specific project/application,
• the consultant is available on demand and gone when the job is done,
• the consultant provides an impartial opinion because he or she is independent of the organization's political system and brings a new and different perspective, and
• the consultant can often also design, develop, and conduct various training programs.
Hiring a consultant is generally beneficial to both the consultant and the client.
The need for skilled and experienced temporary assistance (i.e., good quality consultancy) is on the increase. This is due to the need created by the absence of trained and skilled professional in the field of process control (following personnel layoffs due to budget cuts or the retirement of experienced employees)-and the continuous demand for process automation to maintain a competitive edge (i.e., survival). In addition, the speed of technological change may be a handicap to small organizations whose staff does not have the time to stay abreast of the complexity of modern automation, its ever changing and growing technology, and increasing regulations.
The demand for consultancy also exists, and is at present growing very rapidly, in third-world nations. Their economic growth is often at a much higher rate than their ability to produce skilled personnel-and therefore their need for outside sources to supplement and train their own skilled task force.
Where do consultants come from?
Consultants are found from different sources. The most common are referrals. The client typically would first consider consultants with whom they worked successfully in the past. If this is not possible, the client may contact acquaintances and ask for referrals.
Other sources include consultants' directories (e.g., yellow pages); placing an ad in the local paper; looking for a consultant's ad; looking for leading authorities, such as book or article authors; contacting trade and professional associations or local universities; or searching on the Internet with a few key words.
One word of advice here: the client should always first define its needs and objectives, deter mine what it wants from the consultant, and then start the search for the appropriate consultant.
Not having a clear understanding of the consultant's scope before the search starts inevitably leads to mismatching, misunderstandings, delaying projects, and increasing costs.
What are the qualities of a consultant?
The life of a consultant is not as rosy as it looks from the other side of the fence. To become a consultant certain qualities are required.
1. The consultant should first of all have the necessary knowledge, expertise, skills, and talent to provide the required services to the clients.
2. The consultant must be self-reliant, resourceful, and have a good personality.
3. The successful consultant is typically a self-starter with excellent self-discipline.
4. A consultant is not a typical employee. No guidance is provided by a manager and decisions are not reviewed by anyone else.
A successful consultant must carefully listen to the client needs and often read between the lines. He or she must be tactful, yet strong enough to maintain control of discussions with the client to be able to understand its needs and desires and respond to those needs. The consultant is expected to provide an effective solution to a client's issue in a timely manner and within budget. This leads to a successful consultation and a satisfied client.
What is the lifecycle of a consultancy?
The lifecycle of a typical consulting company goes through four stages: startup, expansion, maturity, decline (see FIG. 1).
During startup, services are offered to potential clients generally through intensive marketing (see following section on marketing). Typically, throughout this period, workload and income go up and down. The consultant may wonder if the decision to become "independent" was the right one. However, on good days (i.e., when the workload is good and income is generated) frustrating days are forgotten, and the future seems bright. The major activities that occur during this time are business setup and marketing.
Expansion is a stage that follows startup. Now the business is growing, work is coming in, and survival looks certain. At this stage of business development, the main problem is to find enough hours in a day to satisfy all the clients. At this point, a major decision has to be made:
Do I expand, or do I start refusing work? This is a difficult situation to face, and the consultant should examine his or her life priorities before making a decision-hopefully not regretting it in the future.
Stability occurs as income and workload balance each other for an extended period of time.
Ideally, new work is poised to start as soon as ongoing work is completed and manpower loading is in sync with the workload.
As time goes by, a downturn starts. At this stage, revenues and workload begin falling over time. This may occur intentionally, if the consultant decides to reduce the workload for personal or other reasons, or unintentionally, if the demand for consulting services is dropping.
Following this overview, the Section is organized into the following sections:
• a description of the types of consulting services,
• the basic tools required to set up a consulting company,
• the marketing of consulting services,
• the steps required to move from proposal to purchase order,
• the content of a contract, types of contracts, and basis for consulting fees, and
• how to maintain client relationships.
Types of Consulting Services
Consulting services can be classified as one of three common types: sole practitioner, small group, and large group.
As a sole practitioner, the consultant creates the business and operates on his or her own. Quite often, the consultant is pushed into consultancy by events beyond his or her control, such as when the professional retires or loses employment.
The consultant typically works from a home office but can also lease space in an office suite.
Leasing space provides additional services not typically available from a home office, such as a receptionist, waiting and conference areas, and clerical services commonly available on a fee-for-services basis. The downside of leasing office space is the additional cost, and that can be an excessive load on a small starting business. However, it can be worth the added expenses.
Most consulting firms consist of a sole practitioner-some are incorporated and some are not.
The decision to incorporate depends on many issues, such as liability and size of income. This is a decision that should be discussed with an accountant.
A sole practitioner must have extensive knowledge and work experience because he or she operates without the support of colleagues in the same organization. A one-person consultancy generally provides, at a relatively low cost, the personal attention a client seeks.
A sole practitioner is faced with an erratic workload and income and a continuous need for marketing. In addition, he or she must perform a balancing act between personal income and business revenues. When the consultant stops working, the business ends. Income depends on the number of hours worked because the daily/hourly rate is limited to the ongoing market rates. The only way to work less hours and make more money is to expand the business and allow others to work for the consultant.
When a small group creates a consultancy, typically with a small clerical and drafting staff, they operate out of a small office. The office is generally located in a professional building that houses other business professionals, such as lawyers and accountants. The business is typically incorporated (and sometimes a partnership is formed).
A small group of consultants can help each other through their pool of knowledge and experience, benefiting the client. The group may also provide more personal attention at a lower cost than a large firm. However, small groups must balance the needs and personalities of the different member partners and be able to reach decisions quickly through a consensus process -- sometimes a difficult activity.
A large group typically consists of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of professionals and support staff. They are large corporations, with a wide variety of specialists that can efficiently implement large projects. These groups are commonly involved in different industries and can offer a greater number of products and services, providing independency and strength.
Types of services
For each of the three types, consultants provide their services with different outcomes, depending on their expertise and approach to problem solving. The following is a generalized description of different consultancies that should be matched to the client's needs.
Generalists are consultants experienced in a broad range of industries and disciplines. They can easily transfer the information learned in one area to another area. They have broad experience and knowledge. Generalists can refer to specialists when looking for specialized expertise. Specialists are knowledgeable in unique and specific areas of expertise, which in many cases is all a client may need.
Industrial consultants have hands-on experience and should be familiar with industry's problems. They tend to shy away from theoretical knowledge because they probably have not referred to their college books since graduation-which was years ago. On the other hand, if a person knowledgeable with theory and academia is the requisite, then an academic consultant is required. This person will probably be available on a part-time basis and be part of a teaching staff at a university.
Advisory consultants provide advice and recommendations to a client. However, the implementation of such recommendations is left to the client. Whereas, industrial consultants not only provide advice and recommendations but also become involved in implementing the recommendations and ensuring functionality and operation on behalf of the client.
Consultant availability is sometimes a difficult issue for small consultancies because they can be tied to other projects that have to be completed first. A client must decide if it requires a full-time or part-time consultant. A full-time consultant provides undivided time and attention to a client for a particular project. However, this comes with a high price because the consult ant is charging all his or her time to one client until the project is completed. A part-time consultant will cost less because he or she has other obligations (i.e., other projects to charge his or her time to). However, this division of availability may not always match the client's needs and timeframe.
A consultant's office requires certain tools. The following is a list of minimum requirements.
Obviously, this will be adjusted to meet the needs of the consultant's business.
A telephone is one of the first tools required. If the office is home-based, it should have a separate phone number. The consultant must ensure that it is a quiet place. It is unprofessional to be on a business call while the kids are screaming and the TV is blaring in the background.
In addition to a telephone, an answering machine or answering service is a must because the consultant will not always be available to answer incoming calls. In addition, he or she must retrieve messages on a regular basis. Clients get annoyed if their messages are not returned in a timely manner. With a rented office space, calls will be answered by a receptionist. With today's technology, there is no reason to leave a business phone unanswered. Some sole practitioners use their cell phone as their business phone. Eventually, a fax machine and scanner will also be required.
The next item of major importance is a personal computer with Internet access, e-mail, and an e-mail address. The software should include word processing capabilities, with preformatted correspondence for standard letters, invoices, contracts, fee schedules, and fax forms. Standard letters thank clients for the opportunity to call, confirm meeting dates and times, transmit documents, and accompany marketing brochures. In addition, spreadsheet (and some times data base) capabilities are useful when reading information sent by clients and vendors.
The consultant can create a Web site to describe his or her capabilities and experience. How ever, the Web site must be kept up to date with relevant information. The design of such a Web site must be carefully thought out, starting with its purpose and target audience.
The consultancy should have a ready-on-demand resume and a list of satisfied clients, with references and telephone numbers. In addition to a resume, the consultant can have a brochure describing his or her capabilities. A one-page resume showing experience and education is usually sufficient.
Then business cards must be prepared. They should look professional (i.e., they should be kept simple, without fancy colors or extravagant shapes). A logo is ok. Printers have a variety of styles to choose from. The consultant may check what other consultants have done with their business cards to get more ideas.
Consultancy may fail just because of poor marketing, even if the service offered is good. Marketing is the most important factor in the startup of a consultancy, and yet it is quite often over looked by technical personnel eager to start their business.
Marketing is a vital and time-consuming activity for any consultant. A marketing strategy must be identified and implemented to generate business. Such a strategy is based on the type of business offered, the products and skills available and their uniqueness, the available market, and the organization of the consultancy. The organization factor is practically non-applicable for a sole practitioner, but it is a major issue for large organizations.
The strategy should define how the consultancy's goals will be reached. This will be modified and adjusted over time as the business starts growing and more is learned about the results of previous marketing efforts. Typically a strategy should have a planning horizon of three to five years. In addition, the strategy should have a detailed one-year plan to cover budgets and personnel commitments. This strategy can be a simple one- or two-page document. The development of the marketing strategy goes through three basic steps (see FIG. 2).
As the consultancy prepares its marketing strategy some soul searching will emerge. Questions arise such as: Will any job be accepted, or will some be turned down? Should out-of-town jobs be accepted? How about overseas assignments? Accordingly, the consultancy is setting an operating philosophy that determines how to respond to certain proposals and how to price certain projects. Occasionally, answers to such questions are not simple yes or no answers. In such cases, the consultancy should decide based on the relationship with the client and the expected profit to be made from such an assignment and future projects.
Defining your service
To define the service to be offered to clients, the consultant must first define the expertise that he or she can offer clients. The consultant must look back at the accomplishments of his or her career, knowledge learned, and experience acquired.
Following this exercise, the consultant now must honestly assess if this expertise is real and if it is worth offering to clients for a fee. It is important to match the expertise with the needs of the market. The consultant then must assess the competition. Is there a niche that makes this particular consultancy any different?
Indentifying your market
A client is any person or organization that decides to give work to a consultancy. It is important that a consultant identifies the market segments he or she will be dealing with. They can be government, businesses, or other professionals. Within these segments, the decision makers may be engineers, foremen, purchasing agents, and/or management.
In identifying the market, a consultant must first identify the skills required, the demand cycle, and the market size, location, and stability. Then the consultant must assess the competition and the uniqueness and benefits of his or her services, including the possibilities of market niches. Another item of great importance is pricing-typically the hourly rate. Many consult ants prefer an hourly rate over a daily rate because it is not clear how long a day is, in particular for clients that have the habit of working late into the night.
Selecting a marketing method
There are several marketing methods. All are based on communication with potential clients.
Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and the consultant should adapt the method to the situation at hand. Most important of all, and common to all methods, the consultant should remember that the most powerful marketing tool is "genuinely caring about the client." The key word here is "genuinely." People see through artificial interest. When a consultant really cares for a client, the correct questions are asked to understand the client's real problem.
Then an appropriate solution can be reached to everybody's satisfaction.
The most common marketing methods are:
Face-to-face is the preferred method of communication. It helps develop a good relationship. Through discussions, the consultant can best understand the client's true problems and needs. The consultant should ask questions, refrain from talking too much, and listen carefully-often reading between the lines.
B. Direct Mail
Direct mail does not mean junk mail. Direct mail in the form of personal letters, announcements on new technology, course offerings, and periodic newsletters is acceptable and often welcomed by clients. Newsletters require preparation time-and time is a commodity sometimes not available. Some consultants get a great response to newsletters while others think it is a waste of time. It probably varies with the market and the consultant's specialty. Newsletters are typically published every three to six months.
Telemarketing uses the telephone as a tool to eventually lead to a face-to-face meeting. Cold calls are a form of telemarketing where the person calling is unknown to the person receiving the call. Not too many consultants are good at cold-call telemarketing. They often hire a telemarketer (or telemarketing company) to do this work. Some clients do not appreciate cold calls, and the consultant needs to decide if he or she should take such a route. The following points should help a consultant when phoning someone:
1. Before starting a call, be sure you have the correct name of the person you will be talking to and make sure you have the information you'll be talking about.
2. When the client answers, relax, smile, introduce yourself clearly, and explain the purpose of your call. The client will sense your smile. Then check the availability of your client to talk.
3. Give your total attention to the conversation at hand, be friendly, don't talk too fast or too slowly, and listen carefully.
4. If you have to put your customer on hold, make sure it's no more than 20 to 30 seconds.
Courses and seminars are sometimes the starting point of a relationship between the consultant doing the teaching and the attending potential customers. Some consult ants obtain good results while others have tried it and did not receive any work from the sessions, in spite of the fact that the training course or seminar was well received.
Referrals are the most important source of a consultant's business. It varies with the business in question, but for an established consultancy, typically 75% to 90% of annual sales comes from referrals and repeat business.
From Proposal to Purchase Order
Following successful marketing efforts, a consultant can now receive an inquiry from a potential client for a job to be done. At this point, the consultant will review the inquiry, call the potential customer, and set a meeting to discuss in detail the needs of the client. When the consultant returns to his or her office, a proposal is prepared and then submitted to the client. If successful, the consultant receives a purchase order giving the go ahead to start with the work (see FIG. 3).
FIG. 3 From proposal to purchase order.
1) Inquiry Received
2) Meeting with Client
3) Proposal Submitted
4) P. O. Received
This is the first move by the client that hopefully leads to a purchase order and the start of work by the consultant. The consultant should review the client's inquiry and prepare a list of questions and clarifications. A misunderstanding of the client's needs and consultant's expectations always leads to problems, including extra costs and project delays. In the end, both the client and consultant are dissatisfied. A dissatisfied client will not give future work to a consultant who did not meet its needs. As discussed earlier, repeat business is the major source of income, so reputation and satisfied customers are key to a successful consultancy.
A careful review of the inquiry ensures that the consultant has a good understanding of the client's needs. If the consultant determines that the inquiry is not within his or her field of expertise, he or she should immediately contact the client and decline to bid on the job, Sometimes the consultant, for whatever reason, does not want to take on a job, even though the work is within his or her scope of work. However, the consultant should keep the door open for future business. In this case, a typical response from the consultant would be that the consultancy has too many projects at hand, and in the interest of the client, it cannot take on the project at this time.
Once the consultant determines to take the job described in the inquiry, he or she should con tact the client and set up an appointment to discuss the inquiry and get a clear understanding of the client's needs.
Meeting with the client
This is the first meeting for the upcoming project. It is generally held at the client's place of business. At the meeting, the consultant communicates with all the people that will be involved in the project. The consultant must understand the needs of the client- a vital step for the success of the project-and confirm that the work to be done is within his or her scope of work and expertise. Sometimes, especially on large projects, a single meeting is not sufficient, and additional meetings are held to clarify the client's requirements.
In addition to clarifying the client's needs, the consultant can discuss other topics, such as financial arrangements and contractual terms and conditions, subcontracting possibilities, liability insurance, confidentiality agreements, and any possible conflicts of interest.
At the meeting, the consultant and client get to know each other. It is important that the consultant makes a good impression right from the start. The consultant should begin with a smile and a solid handshake-and always maintain eye contact. The consultant should be open to new ideas, be genuinely interested in the client's problems, listen carefully, see where he or she can help, be courteous, and say thank you. Building a good rapport with the client is vital to the success of a project. Once the consultant obtains a solid understanding of the client's needs and all points are agreed upon, the meeting ends.
Sometimes a client will question the fees that the consultant is charging-trying to pressure the consultant to reduce the charge-out rate. The consultant should resist this attempt. If the consultant does reduce the rate, the haggling will occur every time the client approaches the consultant with work. The consultant should explain to the client that it is in the client's best interest to pay a little more and receive good-quality work. Minor savings do not even compare with poor quality workmanship-resulting at the end in delays and extra costs to correct errors.
In addition to quality work being completed on time, clients also look for a consultant that is easy to work with and accessible, and responds quickly.
Once the consultant is confident that the client's needs are well defined, a proposal is prepared and submitted to the client. The content of the proposal should be clear and simple to read. The proposal should basically describe the summary of all discussions and state the understanding reached by the consultant. If a purchase order based on the proposal is issued, the client accepts the content and understanding of the consultant (i.e., the onus is on the client to ensure and verify that the consultant's understanding meets the client's needs). In addition to describing the scope of work, the proposal should also set a time frame for the work to be done and set the fees to be charged, with estimated expenses, along with the payment terms and conditions. Quite often, the fee is broken down into regular time and overtime, as well as weekend rates.
The content of a proposal can vary from simple to extensive detail, depending on the size of the project and the client's way of doing business. Typically, a proposal is divided into three parts: the front section, the body of the proposal, and the end section.
The front section includes a title page, table of contents, and summary of the work to be done.
The body of the proposal clearly describes the work to be done, and includes any necessary supporting technical documents. The end section contains fees, overtime rates, estimated expenses, terms of payment (including phased payment-to invoice as the project is proceeding) schedules and project completion time frame, resume of the consultant(s), references (if required by client), and a brochure describing the consultant's capabilities. In summary, the proposal should give the client the confidence required to award a purchase order to the consultant.
It is recommended that rates be quoted by the hour, not by the day. Because it is not clear what a day is. Is it 7 hours, 8 hours, 10 hours, or 24 hours?
Purchase order received
With the receipt of a purchase order, the consultant has the go-ahead to start working. In the proposal, all the details were identified; however, it is a good practice for the consultant to meet again with key personnel to finalize any requirements that may have been omitted during the bidding cycle and confirm the project time frame and delivery date. Often, the client can decide to modify the scope of the project, and the consultant should handle the modification with care because it may delay the project completion date.
In some cases, instead of the proposal and purchase order format, a contract is signed between the consultant and the client. The contract may be a formal contract or just simply be in the form of a letter. Whatever the form, a contract should include a description of the job, its estimated time frame, the consultant's responsibilities and deliverables, the client's responsibilities, payment fees and terms of payment, any special conditions, and a cancellation clause.
Written agreements avoid misunderstandings between the consultant and the client.
A consultant should remember that not every day is a billable day. There will be days spent on marketing, and there are also holidays and sick days. So when setting fees, the consultant should compare his rate with the cost of a full-time senior member of the client's organization-that includes benefits, insurance, sick pay, training time, and costs.
Consultancy fees should include the overhead costs incurred by the consultant. These are in addition to the straight consultancy fees. They include office rent, equipment and supplies, business licenses, insurance, accounting, legal services, professional dues and subscriptions, professional development, telephone, marketing, and other miscellaneous expenses.
Typically, a consultant bills services to clients on an hourly basis plus expenses. Sometimes, instead of billing on an hourly basis, consultants bill on a daily basis. The second most common billing rate is a fixed price, and the third is on a performance basis. The third option is the least common because it involves a high risk to the consultant.
Daily/hourly rate contract + expenses
Daily or hourly billing is the most common approach taken by consultants. With this approach, the consultant does not have to worry about either overcharging the customer or losing revenues. The client is billed the hours used and the client takes the risk. Between hourly and daily, hourly is the most common. Quite often, the daily rate is lower than an hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours in a day.
Consultants add incurred expenses to the daily/hourly rate. Sometimes the expenses are billed at cost (i.e., the client is charged exactly what the consultant has paid), and sometimes the consultant adds a 5% charge to cover the cost of administration and the cost of money between the time the expenses are paid by the consultant and the time the client pays back the expenses.
Expenses can also be handled as a per diem rate. Here the consultant charges a flat fee for expenses. A combination of incurred expenses and per diem rate can also be used.
A profit of 15% to 20% is sometimes added to the total as a percentage of the fee. The decision to add profit as a separate item or build it into the fees should be decided by the owner(s) of the consultancy.
A variation of the daily/hourly contract is the retainer contract. In a retainer contract, the consultant is available to the client on an open-ended basis for an agreed-upon hourly (or daily) rate. The contract can be terminated at any time by either the consultant or the client. This type of agreement is common when a client needs to hire a consultant for the duration of a project, but the project does not have a clear end date-or it may start and stop throughout the design and construction phases.
In a fixed-price approach, the consultant offers the client a fixed amount to do the job. Typically expenses are excluded, but they are estimated by the consultant and submitted to the client for budget purposes (see FIG. 4). The consultant basically agrees to do the job at a set price regardless of the consultant's cost. Partial payments are generally done at predetermined milestones.
FIG. 4 Example of a job estimate for a small consultancy.
Direct Fees: Senior Engineer = 17 days x $650.00/day = $11,050.00 Junior Engineer = 12 days x $350.00/day = $ 4,200.00 Clerical = 4 days x $200.00/day = $800.00
Total Direct Fees = $16,050.00
Overhead: 100% of $16050.00 $16,050.00
Subtotal (Direct Fees + Overhead) = $32,100.00
Profit: 20% of subtotal = $ 6,420.00
Fees Total = $38,520.00
Expenses: Air travel $1,500.00 Car Rental $850.00 Per diem allowance (hotel, meals, etc. ) = 17 days x 200.00/day = $3400.00 Postage, Printing $250.00
Total Expenses = $6000.00
Grand Total (Fees + Expenses) = $44,520.00
In this type of contract, the consultancy takes the risk and does not profit from every job. The consultant must have a clear and specific definition of the work to be done and be capable of accurately estimating the time required to do the job. This is possible on routine assignments where similar previous jobs have been done. However, the consultant should always remember that not all clients are the same and some may need more reports, more meetings, and more coaching. In such cases, the fixed-price contract gets inflated a bit to accommodate for such unknowns.
Most consultants avoid fixed-price contracts due to the unknown factors. They prefer to use the daily/hourly rate contracts.
In a performance contract, the consultant is paid on the basis of a previously set agreement in which the consultant is expected to supply a service that will provide a measurable return to the client. With performance contracts, the consultant takes all the risk, and if the return is not achieved, he or she makes no money out of the effort. However, if he or she does meet the agreed upon return, the economic gains are generally large.
Consultants often use this type of agreement when they are confident that the work to be done is beneficial to their client and yet the client is hesitant. Performance contracts eliminate the client's risk. However, the consultant must have measurable parameters to gauge the accomplished benefits.
Some performance contracts minimize the risk to the consultant by guaranteeing a minimum revenue to the consultant, with a sizeable bonus if the expected return is achieved.
Maintaining client relationships
It is important for a consultant to stay in touch with his or her clients. The statement "out-of sight, out-of mind" is very much applicable in the consultancy business. The consultant must maintain an ongoing relationship with his or her clients to obtain new business, referrals, and testimonials when needed. Maintaining a good relationship reminds the client of the consult ant's availability and capabilities.
There are many ways to maintain relationships. The consultant may send copies of magazine articles to clients on topics of interest or e-mail a regular newsletter (say once a quarter). The consultant also may provide some free advice for simple and quick questions.
The consultant can use regular mail (or e-mail). This method leaves an actual paper (or an electronic) message on the client's desk-to be looked at as soon as the client has time available.
Another option is the telephone. However, quite often a message is left, and telephone tag may develop to everyone's frustration. The most powerful approach is the face-to-face meeting.
This approach renews the relationship, and the consultant can learn about upcoming projects and who's who in the client's organization. The face-to-face meeting can easily evolve into an invitation of the client to lunch, dinner, or game of golf-all further steps toward cementing the relationship.
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Updated: Monday, 2016-07-18 2:51 PST