Most of the clients I’ve worked with have been rational people that are easy to work with. But I’ve had to deal with a few that were completely irate with me. Consider the following:
I once forwarded a document from our off-shore development center to a client for him to review in a meeting the next morning. The mistake I made was, not only did I not review the document; I didn’t even open it to see if it was a document. The next morning, he called screaming at me because all he could see was special characters. Something happened with either the version of the software or the transfer of the document that caused it to be unreadable. I went to meet him to talk face-to-face and he cussed me out in the hallway outside of the conference room of his scheduled meeting.
The 1998 baseball season was the most exciting season that I can remember. Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire went head-to-head in a home run race that ended with them both breaking Roger Maris’ 37-year old single-season record of 61 homers. Sosa hit 64 home runs and McGuire bested that with 70.
Most of us are familiar with the scandals of performance-enhancing drugs by both of them, a corked bat by Sosa and stonewalling in congressional hearings by McGuire that have tainted both of their 1998 achievements. It was a big disappointment for baseball fans like me.
Despite the cheating and fall from grace of these would-be heroes, there is one moment from that season that sticks in my mind. Late in the season, Mark McGuire came up to bat with the bases loaded. He had that focused look on his face that he always had at the plate. He swung his trademark swing and knocked the ball out of the park for a grand slam. He trotted the base paths, “touched ‘em all”, went back to the dugout and sat down. Continue reading Consulting Skill: Focus on the Client→
Few companies hire consultants to be scapegoats. The primary reason consultants are hired is to help the company solve a problem, take them in a new direction, or to provide a service that they don’t have the resources to do themselves.
In Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s best-selling book Freakonomics, they propose a scenario in which you are selling your house with an asking price of $300,000 and receive an offer of $290,000. Should you accept it or wait a week to see if you can get the full asking price? They argue that most real estate agents will tell you to take the deal because “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. The reality is that while the typical real estate agent will give you that advice, if they were selling their own house, they would hold out for a higher selling price. Continue reading Consulting Skill: Aligning Interests with the Client→
Like most things, coordination is critical in consulting. Consider the following scenarios:
Great news Cindy! We’ve landed the Johnson account. We start Monday and we want to hit the ground running. We will need three business analysts, a technical architect and a project manager to be at the client site in Dallas Monday at 9:00 am. They should all be strong in the retail industry and they’re all going to need laptops with our standard software load as well as some custom stuff for this client. Call me if you have any questions.
Something that a consultant always strives for with their client is credibility. That’s why client sales proposals almost always include things like the history of the firm and their previous clients. Consulting firms want the client to know that they’ve been around the block a few times and have experience. Continue reading 3 Ways to Establish Consultant Credibility→
One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from new consultants is the inability to fit in at the client site. Going from client to client, they always felt like an outsider and never felt a sense of community.
I remember early in my career, I was talking to a client and he asked me what consulting was like. I explained to him that I go to different clients and work on projects for periods of a couple of days to as long as a year. It depended on the nature of the client’s need and what they needed me for. I explained how the work was different at each project and that I worked with a different group of people each time.
It hasn’t happened often, but I’ve worked with some very unreasonable clients. Either they have exaggerated expectations of their highly paid consultants, or they know that they can get away with abuse without the threat of us going to Human Resources. I’ve never taken it personally and I’ve found that if I look closely enough, I’m not the only target for these people. Continue reading Keeping Your Cool Under Pressure→