Consultants are hired by clients for a number of reasons. A client may need to increase their staff temporarily for a special project. Or they may need specialized knowledge that isn’t necessary for the client to hire on a full-time basis. Still other times, the client is looking for advice in an area such as strategy or marketing.
In any of those cases, they turn to an outside expert that can help them solve a problem.
A consultant could provide the bare minimum service. She could come in, provide the client with the service they have requested – and only that service – and then move on to her next client.
But a good consultant should do more than that. The consultant has been brought into be the expert, but should leave the client as an expert as well. This can be done in two ways:
Draw from their knowledge
While the consultant is at the client site doing work for them, it is important to learn the client’s business from them. This of course allows the consultant to apply her work and advice to the business for a more specialized product.
Additionally, it allows the consultant to share experiences she has had at similar and even vastly different clients. Using the experience a consultant has had in the past to complement the client’s existing business knowledge will make the client better at what he does.
For more information, see Client Relations for Consultants
Similar to providing knowledge from previous clients, the consultant should provide what she has learned while at the client site. When a consultant comes to work at a client, it is assumed that the duration will be temporary.
While the consultant learns the client’s business and implements new products for them, it is the consultant’s responsibility to teach them what they have implemented before leaving that client.
A consultant should not work at the client in a vacuum. Consulting should be collaborative. When clients and consultants work side by side with each other, the consultant can leave the client at the end of the project with both parties being comfortable that the leave-behind work is in good hands with the client.
There are some consultants that might believe this is a recipe for mentoring your way out of a job. They feel that if you give them all of your knowledge and tell them everything you know about the system or product you just implemented, the client will have no reason to call you back.
That’s a very limited view. If you add enough value, the client is more likely to continue to call you back for more work. Help the client grow, and they’ll always have more projects for which they will need your services.
You may even pull business away from your competitors. If you prove to the client that you are focused on their success, they will probably turn to you at the expense of other consulting firms.
The goal of any consultant should be to establish a long-term relationship with the client and become their trusted advisor. The biggest part of that is doing what is best for the client, not for you.
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.