02/04/08

09:18:18 am, Categories: Entrepreneurship, Sales & Marketing, Business Trends  

Every professional plays the role of a consultant at some point in his or her career. Some more than others. Large companies these days are training their employees on consulting skills because even within organizations, there are “customers” who need to be “sold” on ideas and solutions.

Having been a Management Consultant over the last decade or so, I have heard customers, both external and internal, ask me two questions over and over:

• What can you tell me that I don’t know?
• Why should I trust you?

This leads to my hypothesis that for a Management Consultant to be effective, s/he needs to be competent and independent. Competent enough to walk into the meeting with the customer well aware of the customer’s issues, pain-points, industry trends and articulate potential solutions. Independent enough to think primarily about what is best for the customer and not just offer solutions that are thinly-veiled attempts at cross or up-selling.

And over the last decade, I have seen blatant violations of both the above codes of conduct. I have seen consulting practices that have over-emphasized buzz-words, management fads and nebulous solutions that will never see the light of day. I have also seen consultants recommend solutions that they themselves are in a prime position to implement. But, I have also seen up-standing consultants who know what they are talking about and put the customer’s interests ahead of theirs. And needless to say, these are the types of consultants who are well regarded by their customers.

So, if you are in the business of dispensing advise, figure out how to score high in the competence and independence scales and the rest will follow.

Sampath

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