Consulting Clients’ Most and Least Favorite Things Consultants Do
Updated: Dec 2, 2022
In this blog, you get to see into the minds of clients and get a better understanding of what they like and don’t like. Understanding their likes and dislikes will help you increase the number of clients you get and increase the likelihood of them hiring you over and over again.
Over the last decade, many clients have shared their stories of the bad, good, and great things that consultants do. It helped me learn how to be a better consultant. I learned how best to approach and engage prospective clients. I learned—and am still learning—how to improve how I interact with them and help them accomplish their goals.
Even though I have heard a lot, I wanted to get a fresh and direct perspective for this blog. So I conducted a (very unscientific) poll of people I know who hire consultants and asked them what their favorite things consultants do and their least favorite things. Here are the unfiltered things they told me.
Favorite Things Consultants Do
Take the time to cultivate the relationship well before the engagement commences
Learn as much as they can about the client’s organization
Being well prepared by asking many questions and reading as much as possible about the potential client
Bring a lot of knowledge about the problem the client is trying to solve
Bring knowledge of the external environment into processes and discussions to inform clients about what they need to pay attention to
Listen to what the client wants but also translates that into what the client needs, which isn’t always the same thing
Listen to the "vibe" of the client to discern what is at the heart of the engagement, such as is the client looking for political cover? Is the client looking to gain cover in change management or organizational redesign? What is the motivation of the client?
Communicate with as many members of the client team as possible to get to know the "personality" of the management team
Expand on the client’s vision with best practice models and strategies that help us get there
Bring insights based on having been on the client-side so they can appreciate the perspective without imposing their experience on the client
Balance their own bias against the client's needs
Bring a unique perspective and cleverness
Help without upselling
Use point-relevant data
Are strong writers
Deliver promised deliverables on time
Invest the time and effort to produce a product will be used by the client while appreciating that it is not entirely in the consultant's control
Produce and deliver on both that which is promised as well as conveying observations that are derived from the work and engagement
Adjust style to different groups
Have above-average facilitation skills and know when to press the client beyond process to decision making
Least Favorite Things Consultants Do
Overselling but underdelivering
Demonstrate that the engagement they are doing with a client is just a one-and-done drop in their consulting business
Push the use of a standardized framework even when it clearly doesn’t make sense
Show a lack of authenticity and have a smell of marketing
Act like they know it all and do not adjust to their audience
Fail to follow up
Being late to meetings
Being too removed from the daily realities of the client’s operations
Not thinking creatively
Not communicating delays in deliverables
Impose their perspective on the client
Not maintaining the confidence of the client
Not being able to exude a certain confidence because they do not have command of the issues and can’t add value to the client's approach
Not soliciting feedback from the client to determine if the work is going according to expectations
Not managing hours and price or price the engagement correctly
While these lists represent the points of view of a handful of clients, they match what clients have told me previously about what they like and what bugs them. You can use this information to make decisions about how you want to present with prospective and existing clients or any changes you want to make to avoid these no-nos!
Want More Help Making Your Consulting Business Succeed?
Check out the Craft of Consulting Membership. In this community, you'll get me and other consultants helping you make decisions and take action that get you results. Plus, you get your own cheering section filled with folks invested in your success!
If you apply and are accepted, you'll get your first 30 days for free to make sure the community is a fit for you!