As a consultant, I’ve liked every client I’ve ever served. There are some, however, that I’ve liked more than others.
Every once in a while I run across one person at a client that doesn’t like our presence. It’s usually nothing personal, they just don’t like outsider consultants coming into their home court and disrupting things. Sometimes consultants are seen as a threat. We could point out how a process they designed is flawed. We could change things around so much that the client employee’s job is either eliminated or changed, taking them out of their comfort level. Continue reading The 3 Ds of Client Subversion and What To Do→
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
I loved watching Michael Jordan play for The Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. In those days, everybody seemed to want to “Be like Mike”. I remember thinking about how isolated he and other big celebrities had to feel as public figures. When I went out for an evening, I would often think about the fact that he couldn’t just go out to a movie with his family without drawing a huge throng of fans seeking autographs and pictures.
I once managed a project for a multi-site organization to implement software at each location.
I held a weekly status conference-call with the company’s executives which included the branch manager from each location. In these calls, I would give an overall status of the project and each branch manager would report the status for their respective branch.
A few years ago, I made a comment to a co-worker about an episode of the TV series Grey’s Anatomy. He quickly cut me off saying that his sister-in-law is a doctor at a hospital and it’s nothing like the way they portray the life of a doctor on that show.
When a client hires a consulting firm, whether it’s a single independent consultant or a full project team from a large firm, they know they are paying a high billing rate for those services. As a result, they have a certain value in mind that they expect to receive in return.
Under promise and over deliver
The value set in the client’s mind is the direct responsibility of the consultant. Many consultants are taught to under promise and over deliver.
I was always taught not to worry about what people think. That’s easier said than done.
It doesn’t always work in a customer-facing scenario, particularly in the consulting world. In a perfect world, your boss would judge your performance strictly on that – your performance. It shouldn’t matter how you look, what you wear or how weird you act. Look at the final product and judge it by its quality.
Client perception is client reality
It would be nice if the client did that too. But that’s not how it works. When you’re at the client site, client perception is your reality. If you show up dressed in jeans when they wear business casual, they may develop a perception that your work is more casual than theirs too. Continue reading How to Manage Client Perception→