Succeeding in launching a new consulting firm, especially in an industry ruled by dynasty firms or cutthroat young startups, is a complicated undertaking.
While there are many elements that have to be just right if a firm is going to bring in clients—excellent staff, strong processes, etc.—the most important of these is the ability to build trust.
After all, there’s no shortage of consultants who offer most, if not all, the same services your brand-new firm does. So how do you get them to pick you?
In my experience, it all boils down to building trust. If you can build deep trust with a client, they’ll choose you over your competitors every time—even if that competitor has a shiny new hire or brand-new analysis tool.
I wanted to hear from someone who’d recently broken into the consulting world with an independent new firm, so I reached out to Zain and Farhaz Kheraj. The two brothers recently started the sports consulting business TrustMySystem after leaving secure positions as consultants at two of the largest consulting firms there are: Berkshire Hathaway and Deloitte.
Q: Consulting is an industry typically ruled by heavyweights. You both started your own firm when you were quite young. What are a few concrete steps you took to earn clients’ trust?
A: First we analyzed some of the other competitors in the industry to figure out the flaws in their operations. The main pillar that our brand is built on is transparency. In this industry, it’s hard to find a company that posts all wins and losses.
So many services try to scam people by claiming they are “the best in the industry” and their predictions are always winning. However, anyone who thinks about it knows how sports betting works. If it was really that easy, everyone would be millionaires.
We started posting our results every single day on our Instagram wall, including both the wins and losses, and that built us tremendous respect with our followers and clients. Nothing is worse than paying someone for picks, and then seeing them claim they never lose. Losing is inevitable in this industry.
Q: Why do traditional firms lack transparency?
A: Before we jumped in and started gaining traction, we noticed almost every other sports analytics account would skip posting their losing days and only post winning days.
The next step we took was calling out the entire industry by advertising ourselves as the only 100% transparent team on Instagram. Now a lot of startups have bios similar to ours, and we’ve also noticed their Instagram layouts mimicking ours. We actually changed the entire industry by going 100% transparent.
Our clients really appreciate the transparency because when we have a losing day, they expect us to own up to it and post the losses. Long term we have proven to always have a successful season, so we are not afraid to post the losses. It happens, but it’s not the fact that you lose—it’s how you bounce back after losing.
Q: What was it like launching your company into an industry as difficult to break into as sports consulting?
A: Luckily in 2016, when we started, there were only a few big names in the industry and most didn’t post losses.
We weren’t looking at our clients as just another dollar in our pocket. We wanted to create longevity. Most people do not understand exactly what sports consulting is because of how new the industry is, so it was difficult explaining to people what we do and why we do it.
We also came up with a bankroll management guide to help clients profit as well.
Q: What’s one of the challenges you overcame while starting the business?
A: The biggest challenge was getting our brand out in front of people. Since so many new Instagram pages appear every day, getting consistent growth was very difficult. We now have clients who will vouch for our service as well as refer new clients. Over the last year, our clients have tripled simply from word of mouth.
Q: What are a few things you’ve focused on to grow your business?
A: Details, professionalism, and top customer service.
First, every detail, big or small, matters.
I like to use this as an example: Any master chef knows that it’s not the taste that wins a competition. Taste matters, presentation matters, texture matters—every little detail matters.
At TrustMySystem, we pride ourselves in analyzing every last detail before consulting with our clients. We’ve set up a text service that allows us to send out the latest information in a timely manner. Most consulting firms send emails at the beginning of the day and that’s it. We send messages throughout the day.
Professionalism is a major factor as well. It doesn’t matter if you are the only employee for your business or if you have 1,000 employees. You always want the customer to feel like he or she went to the right place. Professionalism and customer service tie in hand to hand. Most businesses have a 24-hour response time policy, but at TrustMySystem we want to make sure any inquiry gets answered within the first hour. We mostly operate via Instagram and email, so response times are quick.
Q: What did you focus on right at the beginning – did you spend lots of time perfecting your service offering? Or did you work harder on cultivating relationships with potential clients?
Before launching our social media page we worked hands-on with clients whom we’d met and built relationships with.
It wasn’t until 2016 that we realized how much of an impact we could have on the world if we started working through social media platforms.
We saw the shady side of the business through social media, and we both felt like we could really change that. We are now on Instagram and Twitter and currently working on creating our own custom application for iOS/Android that will show behind the scenes content as well as announce TMS TEAM events for our VIP Clients. We hope this will change the industry once again.
Whether you’re in a relatively new industry like sports analytics consulting, or a firmly established one like management consulting, building trust with your customers is vital. Owning your failures as well as your successes and always seeking out ways to offer them greater transparency are definitely a winning combo.