The only way a consultant can deliver the results expected of them is if they work effectively with their clients. You can be the most knowledgeable person within your niche, but until you can get your client to act on and implement your ideas, you won’t bring any change into their lives. If your client fails to reach the goals you were supposed to help them reach, then you’ve failed in your role as a consultant.
While you’re typically expected to give advice and occasionally oversee new projects, your job is not only to gather data and provide analysis. You should be able to convince your client of the changes you want them to make. The most effective consultant is someone who can provide actionable solutions that their clients can immediately implement and benefit from.
Here are five ideas you can use to improve how well you work with your clients:
Understand the Client’s Expectations
Clients usually come to consultants when they need immediate help. Early in the consultation process, have a discussion with your client regarding what they want from you. What role are they expecting you to play? Do they want you to be more hands-on? Do they want frequent updates? What role do they expect to play through the process?
Having clarity on exactly what is expected of you, as well as what your client can expect from you will help you deliver results that are aligned with what your client wants.
Understand the Client
This is different from the client’s expectations. When a client approaches you from an organisation or even a small business, you’ll meet either one, two, or, at the most, a small group of people. You may think that the client is one person or a small group of people. However, the client is the organisation or the business they are representing.
This creates a unique challenge for consultants, as you may have to contend with conflicting interests within the organisation as you try to find the ideal way to help your client reach their goals. To deal effectively with this situation, you should always prioritise the needs of the ‘actual client’ over individuals and groups.
Develop Problem Solving Skills
The primary role of a consultant is to solve the client’s problems. To do this, not only do you need to find actionable solutions to the client’s problems, but you also need to teach the client how to implement those ideas.
As an expert in your niche, you’re already well-versed in how to solve various real-world problems. Your client, however, may need to understand everything from scratch. You should be able to translate complex ideas into simple information that your client can easily digest.
Your client may expect you to provide regular updates. Providing weekly updates is the norm for many consultants and shouldn’t be skipped. Keeping your client in the loop is easier than ever before, thanks to social media platforms and instant messaging applications.
However, don’t limit your interactions to the digital medium. Conversing face to face is important when it comes to developing consultant-client relationships. Communicate your progress as often as necessary and ask your clients to keep you in the loop about any changes they’re making.
Develop Trust and Loyalty
Strive to build a connection based on trust and loyalty with your client. That way, you’ll both be able to get your client to implement what you suggest, and you can also enter a retainership agreement with them.
If your client trusts you, they’re more likely to trust your advice as well. Consultants that develop relationships with their clients are more capable of leading their clients to their expected goals and outcomes.
The role of a consultant is to help the client achieve their desired business goals. However, you may not be able to succeed every time. Consider getting Professional Indemnity insurance as a way to protect yourself from potential risks. To learn more about professional indemnity insurance, click here.
As a consultant, the better you get at communicating your ideas effectively to your clients, the better the results you can expect. When your client trusts you and understands what you’re trying to tell them, they’ll be capable of following through on your advice more effectively.
*As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. The information contained on this web page is general only and should not be relied upon as advice.
- Hamel, GH, ‘The Importance of Communication in Consulting’, viewed December 24th 2020, https://smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-communication-consulting-37337.html
- McLaughlin, MWM, Updated June 25th 2019, ‘How to Land Your First Consulting Client’, viewed December 24th 2020, https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-to-land-your-first-client-1201229
- Nikolova, NN, ‘Understanding the Client-Consultant Relationship’, viewed December 24th 2020, https://www.aesc.org/insights/blog/understanding-client-consultant-relationship
- Staff, November 21st 2020, ‘8 Key Consulting Skills Valued by Employers and Clients’, viewed December 24th 2020, https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/consulting-skills