Management consultants need to be quick learners. Junior analysts are routinely asked to support proposals and projects across different industries. The good ones are fast, and proficient with Excel and PowerPoint. The great ones get up-to-speed quickly on the industry dynamics and can add in industry specifics to the pitch.
So what happens if a partner asks you to help on a proposal for something you know nothing about? For example, how do you get smart on commercials trucks?
1) Start with Standard and Poor’s (S&P) industry surveys - If you have access to these analyst reports through your work or university, start here. It is loaded up with charts, tables and graphs to get you up-to-speed on the major trends, value chain, competitors, key financial drivers and earnings. See a S&P survey on Trucks here.
Example #2: Navistar: In this Q1 2012 earnings presentation, the management team shared their financial forecast, manufacturing strategy and market share by product type. In the slide below, it shows a worsening market share trend, so you probably want to also listen to the webcast, where management answers tough questions from analysts.
3) Search for industry trade organizations websites - Look at industry trade group websites to get a summary of trends, and regulatory issues. These groups do an excellent job of simplifying the story for non-experts. In the Google search box, simply add “site:org” to whatever search terms you use.
6) Look at LinkedIn.com - Go to LinkedIn and see what current or previous employees are putting on their profiles and descriptions of projects. In the past, I did a market sizing from the tidbits that marketing managers mistakenly left on their LinkedIn profiles.
- Suppliers or customers (up and down the value chain)
- Distributors or dealership owners
- Former employees
- Industry researchers or professors
8-100) There are so many other ways to do industry research, but you gotta start somewhere. Next steps might be: trade magazines, conferences, government and industry data sets, product reviews, surveys, focus groups, interviews. As a consultant, I have bought my fair share of – - – - for Dummies books. You will too.