The 10 Consulting Commandments for a Successful Client Partnership
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:
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.
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.
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.