There’s a great “Demotivators” poster out there that reads: “Consulting – If you’re not part of the solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem.” While this poster is of course tongue-in-cheek, it’s also somewhat sad, because it shows how mistrustful and bitter many companies have become towards consultants in general. Why have they become this way? Let’s face it – this industry can be a dirty one, full of smiling faces who will tell you all about how wonderful their solution is, or how wonderful your idea is, all the while not caring about your company’s actual problem, and all the while billing like mad to do so. For many consulting firms, each client is just a means to an end – something to line their pockets with until they can find the next big score.
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So if you’re new to consulting, what are some key things you should do to make sure you’re not one of the bad guys? What makes a trustworthy consultant? And if you’re a business looking to partner up with a firm, what qualities should you look for before you sign the deal?
1. Build a Personal Business Relationship
A huge problem with most consulting companies is they have only a sales relationship with their clients, and not a personal business relationship. To some, the concept of a “personal business relationship” may seem like a contradiction in terms, but what it really means is caring about your client and the problems he or she has. The truth is, all business is personal, and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to make themselves not feel bad about screwing someone. Many attorneys will tell you that the problem with being a lawyer is that your client’s problems become your problems. A good consultant should have the same problem. If you don’t care about your clients’ problems at a personal level, how can you be driven to solve them? Always remember, your client’s problems are the reason you exist – be part of the solution.