Is Catalant Right For Me?
Thousands of independent consultants and boutique firms have found success with Catalant, but most started their journey by asking, “is Catalant right for me?”
Finding success with Catalant’s Marketplace requires a broad understanding of marketing strategy, an appreciation for platform dynamics, and self-awareness about your differentiated capabilities. By the end of this article, you will have a good understanding if Catalant is the right solution to help you achieve your independent consulting goals.
This article will cover:
- An overview of Catalant’s Marketplace
- What best-fit Experts look like
- How to find success with Catalant
An Overview of Catalant’s Marketplace
Catalant as a distribution channel
When you think about Catalant and other platforms used to find project work, you can think of them as distribution channels. Other distribution channels include your own website, client referrals, partner consultants, any advertising you might do, etc. Catalant is one of many ways to showcase your services and attract new clients. In each channel, you may take a different approach to promotion, messaging, and pricing in order to gain customers.
The game-changing benefit of a marketplace channel like Catalant is the ability to access a set of projects you otherwise may never see. Advantages like speed, access, and exposure to qualified potential clients come with being an Expert on the Catalant platform.
The dynamics of a marketplace platform
When you’re thinking about leveraging Catalant as a distribution channel, you must keep in mind the many factors at play:
- An understanding of the process from project posting to contract completion
- Types of clients who are seeking expertise on Catalant
- Type of work that comes through the Catalant channel
An understanding of Catalant’s process from project posting to contract completion
It’s helpful to have an understanding of Catalant’s process when thinking about your fit with the platform. A project buyer comes to the platform (or to their Catalant account team) with a defined problem or need that they would like an external Expert to help with. They post a project, which outlines the problem, work needed to be done, desired outcomes, specialization requirements, a rough timeline, and occasionally, an estimated budget.
Projects are listed on our marketplace, and thanks to the technology powering the platform, potential project opportunities are surfaced to an Expert through their account dashboard. Experts can also search the project database and choose project opportunities to pitch on, using the pitch as an expression of interest.
If a client selects an Expert, they have an interview, discuss the scope of the project, and from there, the client can request the Expert to submit a proposal. You’ll propose the solution, work to be done, and your fee, and if accepted, the project moves to contract.
Contracting, billing, and payments are all handled through Catalant’s platform, which is advantageous for independent consultants who want to minimize overhead related to A/R, procurement, etc. Templated contracts and standardized payment schedules help you to plan your practice’s cash flows.
Types of clients who are seeking expertise on Catalant
Catalant is known as a platform to find independent consultants with both consulting experience and deep subject matter expertise. While any type of organization can turn to Catalant’s Marketplace for support, we find that certain types of companies, projects, and expertise are a much better fit than others.
Since 2013, Catalant’s client base has evolved from small businesses to ~30% of the Fortune 500, leading private equity firms, and growth-stage companies. From an industry perspective, we see concentrations in consumer products and services, retail, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, business services, holding companies, financial services, private equity, and consulting.
The project buyers, i.e., those who are looking to engage external support, tend to be fairly senior in their organizations, responsible for the advancement of strategic work. They hold titles of:
- Director / Senior Director
- Vice President / Senior Vice President
- President / Principal / Managing Director
- Less often: Manager and C-level
Type of work that comes through the Catalant channel
These companies tap Catalant to advance strategic work in areas like digital transformation, market research, technology implementation, operations, supply chain, executing innovation programs, etc.
Here is a visualization to help you understand where Catalant fits in well, and where we typically don’t see as much work.
The Profile of Best-Fit Experts
As a marketplace platform, projects are posted publicly, and any number of qualified Experts can pitch. This means Experts face competition for projects, and clients must choose between qualified candidates. What does that pool of Experts look like, and how do clients make decisions between highly qualified candidates? As you might expect, the answer is, “It depends.”
Composition of the talent pool
Project-winning Catalant Experts tend to have 10-20 years of work experience and have a background in consulting, or deep subject matter expertise in a specific industry or business function. They’ve done the type of work that clients are looking for, either in a consulting fashion or in-house as an operator. As one might say, Catalant Experts have already “cut their teeth” before they engage with a Catalant client.
Project focus areas
With a wide variety of project work done on the Catalant platform, you might be the only, or one of a few, candidates who are pitching. On others, you might see that there are dozens of Experts who have pitched. As client demand and market pressures change, and based on the degree of specialization required, so does the volume of pitch behavior.
The best practice here is to focus on project categories that you have demonstrated expertise in. Here are the project categories available on the Catalant platform:
- Corporate Strategy
- Market Research
- Sales & Marketing
- Supply Chain
- Operations & Process Improvement
- Digital Transformation & Technology
- Human Resources & Organization
- Data & Business Analytics
- Finance & Accounting
- Program Managers & Interim Executives
Do you have experience in these areas? Then Catalant could be a great place for you.
Finding Success with Catalant
Success through Catalant can look different for each Expert. Winning a ton of projects may be one Expert’s goal, while expanding into a new project area might be another’s. A new independent consultant may derive success by leveraging educational articles, webinars, and best practices to grow. Seasoned independent consultants might value finding other Experts to partner with on expanded project opportunities. Many Experts find tremendous value in the support provided by the Catalant team and the opportunity to leverage Catalant as a way to digitally market themselves.
The most successful Experts have clear goals in mind for how they want to leverage Catalant.
GOAL: Differentiation. Demonstrating your unique value
There are several opportunities for a Catalant Expert to demonstrate strengths and expertise:
- Your Expert profile
- Within a pitch
- On interview calls
Your Expert profile is the place to include important highlights about your skills, experience, and past project work. You can make your profile public, and use it as a way to market and promote yourself to clients searching the Marketplace.
The pitch is the place where you want to capture a client’s attention. Highlight the unique value you’ll bring to the project – experience in the industry; expertise in the subject matter; you’ve done this exact type of project before. On each pitch, you can select relevant past project examples from your profile to include as a demonstration of expertise.
The interview is then your opportunity to demonstrate your ability to deeply understand the problem to be solved so that you can confidently connect your experience and expertise to a proposed solution.
GOAL: Projects. Understanding what drives client decision-making
When multiple Experts are pitching on a project, how do clients decide who to choose? With tens of thousands of projects completed on our platform, we’ve been able to dive into that data to see what trends emerge. We also partnered with industry-recognized firm, David A. Fields Consulting Group, to conduct in-depth research on this topic.
Our research shows that most Catalant clients chose to interview Experts who can demonstrate experience, expertise, and examples with their specific project. These factors weigh more heavily in a client’s decision-making than cost. This means the best Experts are those who can translate their expertise into clear solutions for a problem.
Successful Experts have a strong awareness of their strengths, expertise, and competitive edge. On the Catalant Marketplace, we don’t recommend you pitch with a “spray and pray” approach, wherein you pitch on every project that you see. Rather, we encourage you to be focused and precise, choosing projects where your strength and expertise align with the problem to be solved. Fast Experts are also more likely to
GOAL: Growth & Development. Leveraging resources to grow your practice
One important mission for Catalant is to be a place where all independent consultants can learn and grow. We develop informative resources for independent consultants, and partner with fellow independent consultants to glean the best practices that helped them grow.
- Check out the Expert Education Center to read articles on how to manage, grow, and support your practice.
- Watch stories from fellow independent consultants on their challenges and successes.
And Catalant’s team is here to help. We have created an infrastructure that takes some administrative burden off of your shoulders and enables you to move quickly. Contracting, billing, and worker classification are all handled inside of the platform. We guarantee, except in extraordinary circumstances, that Experts will be paid for their work, whether or not the client pays Catalant. This means you’re not left chasing down payments and can focus on your strength – delivering client value. Our Customer Success Managers support you through a project engagement with any question you may have.
Last, but not least, we continue to unveil new service offerings that give independent consultants support like they’d find in a large firm. One example is slide deck support, wherein you can send us your completed notes and drafts, and we’ll turn those into a professionally designed work product within just a few days. Utilize this for free on Catalant-sourced projects, and for a nominal charge on non-Catalant projects.
In summary, when you ask yourself, “is Catalant right for me?”, if you can answer yes to the following questions, then it’s likely a fit, and we’d love to have you in the community.
- Do I have deep subject matter expertise or former consulting experience in relevant industries and project categories?
- Will I build a robust Export profile that includes experience and past project examples, and promote myself inside and outside of the Catalant network?
- Will I be active on the Marketplace, search for best-fit projects, pitch early, and deliver an outstanding work product for the clients?