A Consultation on ConsultantsNovember 14, 2011
Brandtrust®’s Clients Expect…
So what’s the deal with consultants? Why do people hire them? I’m sure you’ve seen the gamut of consultants. There are personal consultants trained to help with finances, health, dating and even your skin care. Then there are professional consultants who may help you with IT difficulties, copywriting, operations, etc. There are consultants for every aspect of life, including consultants who advise people on hiring consultants. Most likely, your service expectations of consultants differ a bit depending on the expertise of the consultant you’ve hired. For example, you may expect your business management consultant to be a bit more conversational than your IT consultant or your finance consultant to be more buttoned up than your skin care consultant (please excuse my stereotyping). Since we’re fascinated (some say obsessed) with human behavior and psychological motivations here at Brandtrust®, we dove a bit deeper into our own clients’ expectations surrounding consultants and consulting services. Not surprisingly, our insight was that our own consumers expect things beyond first-class service, breakthrough audience insights and compelling strategies. They expect consultants to help them feel a certain way.
Changing strongly held corporate beliefs can be an uphill battle. And a scary one. Clients told us they need a way to present new ideas so that they can be more easily accepted within their own organizations. Consultants make them feel safer when they’re bringing in new and disruptive ideas. Clients hire them because they provide both credible expertise and an objective, outsider’s perspective. Our clients told us that consultants, “are not my company, which makes them so powerful within my company.” As we’re outsiders, our opinions aren’t felt to be subjective. We don’t have specific goals within the organization and aren’t influenced by internal dynamics. We’re looking out for the betterment of the organization and have the ability to validate subjective, internal ideas. Consultants’ fresh perspective, collaborative nature and expertise provide clients with the assurance they need to pursue new ideas.
…Coaches, Not Consultants
Clients in our industry are looking for coaches; partners that mentor a new style of thinking and equip them with tools to affect organizational change. These clients don’t want consultants who simply provide pronouncements. They desire collaboration to further develop the new ideas that were created so that when they leave an engagement they can confidently translate the outcomes into compelling strategies, not just report on them to senior management. Clients expect to complete an engagement with actionable deliverables and look to the consultants to “ease re-entry into the office.”
One memorable respondent told us, “my time with consultants is like a spa, rejuvenating myself.” While I don’t know if I can claim that all of our engagements are spa-like, I can attest that the journey with us is known to re-charge our clients’ batteries and tends to inspire creative thinking and renewed energy. Not only does getting out of the office do wonders for our clients, but actually hearing how their products or services make their own consumers or customers feel renews their dedication to the corporate cause, mission and brand.
Are You Delivering?
No matter your chosen career or industry, you most likely play a consultative role, at times. Whether you find yourself formally consulting or informally advising others, we encourage you to understand and identify your advisees’ expectations to ensure a pleasurable consultative experience. We’d all do well to remember that it’s all about how you’re making someone feel!