Over the years, I have attended many seminars and read many books on consulting client leadership and the practice itself. Some things stand out and some were just known facts. Here is a take on the ones that are essential to succeed.
- People Matter: Focus on the people, not just the organization you are working with: The bigger the organization, the bigger the politics. As an individual try to be an object of interest to the buyer. What is it that “You” or the brand you represent can be useful to the potential sponsor (as opposed to overly focusing on the companies you represent).
- Showcase your value with a Point of View early: Typically consultants are known to give “it depends” answers. Come in guns blazing with a POV, put some specific ideas on the table, talk specifics in terms of time and effort to build credibility upfront as a person “who can get things done — has clear POV”.
- Find the RIGHT (powerful) buyer: Somehow we tend to get attached ourselves to the person we had originally connected with assume that we have to prove value over 6-9 months before asking for other introductions. I believe we have to step back and chart out a hierarchy (not reporting managers, but more powerful buyer) and go at it from day 1 — directly or through referral.
- Confidence to challenge the status quo: At the Manager and Sr. Manager Level, challenging someone often can be seen as a threat by them. However, at the higher levels, clients feel much more secure about their background and what they have achieved, so such challenges are seen as coming from someone equal or at least worthy of being a thought partner with them and it is welcomed. So, having the credibility and confidence to challenge the status quo at higher levels in the org make them think about your POV. Even if they do not agree, they will respect it.
- Value based pricing: If you can create a feeling that every time clients meet you or ask questions that they won’t be charged, then they are likely to come to you. For example, if we can say, we can help you get to your road-map over the next 12 weeks. If this was value based, then the margin is implicit so that if they needed us to meet 2 more executives or extend the project by week or two, we wouldn’t necessarily give a change request. Overall, the experience is much better, even if upfront the cost was a little harder to swallow.
Ultimately, flexibility and dependability are two key traits that makes or breaks a consultant. Practicing the above with those traits could help us elevate our game to next level.