I’ve known people in the business world that don’t believe in using consultants. These people believe that consultants are over-priced hacks who “borrow your watch to tell you the time”. Like any industry, there are consultants that provide poor service and give their industry a bad name. When a company pays anyone to provide a service, they need to do the due diligence to make sure they can do what they promise. But once a company finds a consulting firm that is good at what they do, their rates can often scare them away. So why would anyone in their right mind pay those high consulting rates?
Why you would need a consultant
Let’s look at three main reasons for which an organization might hire a consultant
Once, early in my career, I was a project manager on a billable project. One Monday, I got a call from the partner in charge of my project asking why I had billed only 36 hours the previous week instead of the minimum 40 hours to the project.
Why is it that when I ask for a waiter’s recommendation, they suggest one of the most expensive things on the menu? I suppose it’s possible that the most expensive items are the best. It’s basic supply and demand economics. But I always suspect that they’re more interested in jacking up the bill – and in turn, their tip – than in finding me the ideal meal. Their conflicting priorities are obvious.
My daughter is a junior in high school and in the process of investigating colleges. In a parallel effort, I’m in the process of investigating how to maximize her ability to get scholarships and minimize our expected family contribution (EFC).
As part of my research, I’m finding that there is an entire industry category of consultants who are happy to share their knowledge and promise thousands of dollars in tuition savings to insure my daughter’s ability to get into her top school, all for a nominal up-front fee.
I remember early in my consulting career when it was explained to me that, although my primary responsibility as new consultant was to keep my utilization (my percentage of client-billable hours) up to a certain percentage, I was also responsible for sales.
You want me to sell?
I wondered how I could be expected to sell consulting services. First, I was an IT programmer – a techie. What did I know about consulting sales?
Imagine that you have a leak in your bathroom faucet that keeps your significant other awake at night. As a result, your SO’s insomnia has spread to become your problem as well. When it comes to plumbing, you invoke the “two-suit rule” – as soon as you own two suits in the closet, you have reached the level of success in which you hire certain tasks out. You call a plumber who schedules to come to your house at 9:00 the next Friday. Continue reading Why Consulting Firms Fail→
Two of the most critical measures for a consultant are selling services and utilization. Whether you are an independent consultant working for yourself, or an employee of a large consulting firm, these key indicators are both the bread and the butter. You have to sell services (projects) to clients in order to get work and you have to deliver that work in order to get paid. Utilization is usually measured as the ratio of the number of billable hours worked divided by the number of available working hours. Continue reading Critical Consulting Skill: Selling Services→