Consulting Skill: Know the Client’s Business

Consulting Skill
Consulting Skill: Know the Client’s Business

Over the years, I’ve seen various levels of client satisfaction with their consultants.  Some consultants make themselves so indispensable that the client tries to hire them as a full-time employee.  On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve seen clients ask for a consultant to be removed from a project.

The missing consulting skill

In those situations, it can be a personality difference or a bad first impression that they never got over.  In-between those extremes, I’ve been involved in client conversations where we announce that an individual is leaving the project and the client responded with indifference.  The client didn’t love the person enough to be upset with him leaving.

In many cases, the client’s dissatisfaction or lack of enthusiasm over a consultant is due to the fact that the consultant didn’t take the time to learn the client’s business.

For more information, see Client Relations for Consultants

Learning the client’s business

As I look back at the clients I’ve served over my career, I can say with near certainty that my level of success was directly proportionate to the level at which I became familiar with their business.

Many consultants consider themselves generalists.  They know a little bit about a lot of industries.  They feel it’s not important to know the client’s business because they think and work at a much higher level.  In most cases, the client would disagree.

I once knew a consultant that was a quality assurance tester on an IT project.  She became so familiar with the client’s business rules and processes that she regularly pointed out how a business rule would affect downstream processes before most of the client team members could – including the business people that defined the processes.

See my related post: Doing Your Consulting Homework

She was one of those consultants that clients love.  She served at that client for several projects.  She was eventually hired away from the consulting firm to become a full-time employee at the client.

Whether your goal is to get hired by the client or not, consulting firms love employees that they have to fight for.

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms 

Related Posts
What My Dad Taught Me About Consulting
My father passed away in 1990.  After that, Fathers Days were a bit sad for me for a couple years, until I began celebrating them as a father instead of a son. In ...
READ MORE
Learning From Consulting Mistakes
"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over, ...
READ MORE
How to Create Your Personal Brand
Early in my career, I worked for a small consulting firm as a software developer. I liked the company and I like the work.  I had a very supportive manager.  ...
READ MORE
Is Consulting Worth It?
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 ...
READ MORE
Who sells consulting services?
Early in my career, I worked for a large consulting firm that evaluated their employees on five criteria: Knowledge: How much has the employee learned over the evaluation period? Service: How well ...
READ MORE
The Difficult Client Types
I've worked in very few organizations that didn’t have a jerk or two walking around.  Over the years I’ve learned to deal with them. In the one situation where the jerk was ...
READ MORE
Are You Keeping a Client Focus?
In an episode of ‘House of Lies’, the Showtime series loosely based on management consulting, there was a situation where the team was tasked with reviewing a pharmaceutical client’s internal ...
READ MORE
Consulting Skill: Focus on the Client
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 ...
READ MORE
How to Lose Business by Gold Plating
I worked my way through college waiting tables.  At one place I worked, we had a cook who treated employee meals differently than customer meals.  Customers received the standard fair.  ...
READ MORE
Consulting Priority: Billable Hours
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 ...
READ MORE
What My Dad Taught Me About Consulting
Learning From Consulting Mistakes
How to Create Your Personal Brand
Is Consulting Worth It?
Who sells consulting services?
The Difficult Client Types
Are You Keeping a Client Focus?
Consulting Skill: Focus on the Client
How to Lose Business by Gold Plating
Consulting Priority: Billable Hours