Tag Archives: Decision making

6 Ways to Help the Client Make Decisions

Help the client like a good mechanic
6 Ways to Help the Client Make Decisions

Sergie is a mechanic that I trust with my cars. When I take it in for a problem, he’ll suggest an inexpensive adjustment to see if that solves the problem. If that doesn’t work, he’ll try something more. I know that he has my best interests in mind rather than thinking about how much money he’ll make in the deal.

It made me realize that he was really my auto repair consultant. What if every consultant followed the six steps that Sergie does with me?

Explain the impact

After Sergie runs an analysis on my car, he gives me a call and explains what is wrong with it. He knows that I don’t know an overhead cam from a drive shaft. Instead of taking advantage of that, he explains how it impacts the car’s performance. That helps me make a decision on what to do.

When a consultant identifies a problem, it is important to explain, not just the business or IT problem, but how it has potential to impact the business in the short and long terms. When the client understands how it impacts the business, they can seek the most effective solutions.

Understand client’s priorities

Sergie has asked me how much longer we plan to keep an automobile. He’s asked how many miles we usually drive a car to work. That helps him understand how much and how we use our cars. That helps him give informed advice that will be most helpful for us to get the right solution.

A consultant should understand the client’s strategy. He should know the clients priorities and goals in order to help achieve them. By knowing where the client is going, the consultant can give advice that leads them down the right path.

For more information, see Client Relations for Consultants

Provide options with pros and cons

When Sergie calls after I drop off a car, I know how the conversation is going to go. He’ll explain what is wrong in language that I can understand. Then he’ll list out a number of options. Some are simple stop-gap resolutions. Some are a lot more expensive. For each option, he explains the advantages and disadvantages. He’ll explain how the fix could affect the resale value and how long the solution is expected to last.

Consultants are paid to come up with solutions. They should provide clients with multiple options and explain the pros and cons of each one. Each option should be presented in a way that is clear and understandable for the client.

Make a recommendation

Once he explains all of the options and the pros and cons of each, Sergie often has painted a picture of a no-brainer. I’ll usually state what sounds like the right option and he usually agrees.

Sometimes, it’s not a clear solution. If he sees me struggling to decide, he’ll make a recommendation based on his knowledge of how we use our cars. He’ll explain why he thinks that’s a good solution. Then he patiently answers all of my questions and waits for my decision.

No matter how decisive a client is, or how well he knows his business, decisions can be complex. A consultant who knows the client’s strategy can best make a recommendation and explain why it’s the best decision. The client will most likely have questions. The consultant should be well-informed to be able to answer each question.

Implement according to the customer’s preferences

Once I make a decision on my car, my loyal mechanic implements the solution according to my directions. I’ve never gone against his recommendation. But if I did, I have confidence that he would do what I think is best rather than what he believes.

A consultant has to do the same. Clients often agree with the consultant. Sometimes they agree after some minor modifications. Other times, they may disagree completely for a variety of reasons.

The consultant may disagree. He may voice that disagreement. But the client’s wishes trump the consultant’s opinion. Solutions need to be implemented according to the client’s wishes.

How do you help clients make decisions?

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.

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

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Is it Gut Feel or Wishful Thinking?

Wishful thinking
Is it Gut Feel or Wishful Thinking


Perhaps my father didn’t like me, because he raised me to be a Chicago Cubs fan. And since I’m a slow learner, by the time I realized the futility of being a Cubs fan, I was stuck; there was no switching teams.

So now, every time I go to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, I enter with the hope of a Cubs win. Sometimes I just know deep down inside that they’re going to win.

It usually only takes a few innings to bring me back to reality. I realize that that gut-feeling I had for a win was really only wishful thinking.

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Treating the Root Cause of the Problem

root cause
Treating the Root Cause of the Problem

A colleague of mine recently went to the doctor a while back.  He was having some severe pain in his knees.  The doctor quietly analyzed the problem and then sat down with him and started talking to him about his diet.

He asked how many alcoholic drinks he had per day, what types of food he generally ate and asked if he knew how many calories he consumed each day on average.

My friend answered his questions gradually becoming confused.

“Why are you talking about my diet when the problem is my knees?” he asked.
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Agreeing to Disagree – Playing it Safe

Agreeing to Disagree
Agreeing to Disagree

I once worked with a woman who had a habit of saying ‘I don’t disagree’.  This was invariable a response to a point her manager made.

Having it both ways

I thought this was a very safe approach to commenting on one’s boss’s comments.  You don’t have to agree while you don’t disagree.  You get to remain the business equivalent of Switzerland while still speaking up.

Depending on the environmental politics you work around, safe may be the best approach.  But if you don’t disagree, does that mean that you agree?  Or does it mean that you’re speaking up without having the gumption to take a stand?

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The Decision Making Consultant

Decision Making Consultant
The Decision Making Consultant

I’ve written at length about what makes a good consultant and why it’s so great to be a consultant.  One thing I’ve never addressed is a consultant’s decision making skills.

Any business person needs to be decisive.  A decision making consultant shows that he can get things done when others don’t have the courage to move forward.

But a consultant needs to know when to be decisive and when to keep it in check.
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Are You Purchasing Effective Tools?

Effective Tools
Are You Purchasing Effective Tools?

I’m pretty handy around the house.  My workshop has a decent supply of tools and I can fix and maintain most of the issues that occur in my home.

If something breaks, I assess the situation, decide how to best approach it, get the necessary tools and fix it.  If a nail is sticking out of a piece of trim, for instance, I’ll get a hammer and drive it back in.

As a general practice, I don’t walk around the house with a hammer looking for nails that are sticking out.
Continue reading Are You Purchasing Effective Tools?