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The 10 Consulting Commandments for a Successful Client Partnership

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Published:
October 22, 2021
Reading Time:
9 minutes
Gizela
Gizela has almost two decades of experience within the Digital sphere and eagerly awaits the day she can be cloned so she can finally get everything on her daily to-do list done

In recent years we’ve seen many overnight consultants with no real training, skill or experience popping up, thinking that they can get paid for showing up for an hour. This has become a big headache for real experts since these opportunists really tarnish the reputation of the industry. That is also why many clients prefer to use Consultport, where they know they’ll find real professionals.

But sometimes even the real experts can come across as novices due to client expectations not being met, or results not being seen soon enough. A recent Oxford study has shown that clients measure a consultant’s success based on their experience of just three things:

  • Intensity of the collaboration (how hard they perceive you working with them)
  • Consultant expertise (the consultant’s knowledge and skill)
  • Common vision (whether they’re on the same page)

So, how does a consultant avoid these little mishaps, misconceptions and misunderstandings? Well, when consulting with a client there are a few best consulting practices to adhere to that will yield the most successful outcome? Follow these simple 10 Consultant Commandments and you can’t go wrong.

The 10 Consulting Commandments:

Know thy client

As a consultant you need to know your client and their business inside out. You need to research the company holistically and be armed with that data during your first client meeting. At the client meeting you’ll need to do a deep-dive into trying to pinpoint all the pain points, the possible solutions as well as client expectations.

Speak thy client’s business tongue

A good consultant can adapt to a company’s culture. If a company is a bit more laid back, advice coming from a stiff in a suit using an almost pious speech pattern is not going to work. Same goes for when the client is an extremely formal corporate client: there’s no way the board is going to be listening to a presentation by someone in sneakers using all sorts of informal slang words.

Grasp thy client’s end-goal

When a consultant gets called in, it’s usually to advise on and sort out a few problems on a micro level. But for the company, these micro problems form part of a much bigger picture and what they would like to achieve. A consultant needs to know and fully comprehend how these smaller client goals fit into the bigger picture.

“To get Game-Changing results, start focusing on Game-Changing thoughts.” - Robin Sharma

Lend the client thy ear

This is something that many consultants struggle with. They are getting paid for their advice and leadership after all. But don’t jump the consulting gun quite so fast. During interactions with a client, make a point of listening to your client rather than talking their ear off. A lot of listening will lead to a much better understanding of the client and the business and how to serve them best.

Meeting in thy middle

One of the biggest complaints most consultants have is the fact that a business calls in an expert when they’re having problems because they can solve it themselves, but then pushes back on everything the consultant suggests or recommends.

Well, we’ve got bad news for you if you thought that you only needed to compromise at home with your partner/spouse. It’s very rare to have clients simply jump on board everything a consultant has to say (change is hard, after all). So a skilled consultant that uses best consulting practices will know how to be able to meet in the middle, so that any implementations will yield results without making the client feel like the comfort rug has completely been pulled from underneath them.

Don’t throw thy’s weight around

We get it; you were called in because of your expert knowledge and mad skills. But it’s important to remember that while it may be your 33rd year as a consultant, it’s probably the owner’s 33rd year in his business. No one knows his business better than he does. So even though you might be more knowledgeable and skilled in certain areas, don’t come in acting like you own the place. Be respectful when consulting with a client as an outsider that was called in to help.

Don’t fall into thy own set moulds

A consultant (especially one that’s got many years of experience underneath their belt), can easily fall into the trap of starting to use past successes as templates for any business showing similarities. Many times it’s a good place to start, but don’t become so complacent and confident that you start losing sight of the fact that all businesses and their dynamics are unique. There will never be a cookie cutter solution for each and every business and you need to remain open and accessible to new situations and solutions.

Best consulting practices, The 10 Consulting Commandments for a Successful Client Partnership

Don’t make false promises to thy’s client

It’s important to remember that a consultant is not just there to talk the talk – they need to walk the walk with the client too. Many consultants become so overconfident or are so desperate to leave a good impression that they tend to over exaggerate on results. Change doesn’t happen overnight and a company that’s just starting up marketing efforts are not going to have 200,000 Instagram followers in a week. Be realistic and don’t sell the client a dream that you can’t possibly deliver.

Keep thy smile

It can be very hard to keep up the energy and positivity when working on a very challenging situation sporting a lot of issues and a difficult client. But turning into Debby Downer at every status meeting is not going to do anybody any favours – especially not yourself. Keep things professional and upbeat and do your best. The rest will take care of itself.

Do thy post-evaluation

Many clients complain that whenever they get a consultant, the individual becomes an intensely integral part of an organisation only to leave them shortly after implementation with a bunch of do’s and don’ts, only to never be heard from again. This gives the client the impression that you are solely in this business for the money and don’t really care about your clients (which can be a career destroying conclusion for a consultant).

We are not advocating that you are contactable all hours of the day and night or that you provide consulting services free of charge, but that you simply “check in”. Right after leaving, have the client give feedback on their entire experience of working with you and take note of any constructive criticism. Then do another follow-up inquiry into how things are going a period of time after the implementation phase has kicked off.

Not only is this in line with best consulting practices and seeing a project through from beginning to end, but this kind of rapport often also leads to even more work for the business/company.

Keep Yourself Covered with a Consulting Agreement

Even if you’ve adhered to all best consulting practices as laid out above, business relationships can go sour for a number of reasons. That’s why it’s absolutely critical that you keep yourself covered with an official consulting agreement.This consulting agreement can serve as a guideline regarding your responsibilities, set boundaries in terms of the services that need to be provided and can serve as a measuring stick for your success.

By keeping to our 10 Consulting Commandments and keeping things official with proper documentation, the sky’s the limit to your consulting success.