Are you trying to win a bid, bring in more work for your company or influence stakeholders? How do you influence your clients when delivering a consulting service? I’ve put together a list of techniques to empower you to lead with confidence and bring in repeat business for years to come!
Consulting can be pretty straight forward for the natural. You’re the expert, your client comes to you for advice. You give them some solid info and then send them the invoice in the mail
But it could also be that you struggle in the role. You may ask yourself: how do I deliver a service I am completely confident in? When is it my place to challenge my client–can I be brutally honest?
I’ve outlined them below, so you can fast track your consulting skills.
In consulting it’s important that you’re a leader and establish yourself as the authority on any subject you are advising about. Even if you have years of experience, you may not feel confident enough to challenge your clients, even with proper rationale.
In my experience, working with a team who evaluate whatever you’re working on once a week can help you draw on others’ experience. Having this multi-layered perspective can give you a big confidence boost going into a presentation to discuss your findings.
Use a Framework for Your Findings
One of the most important aspects of consulting is how you deliver your findings. For example, when I have a client from whom I’m trying to generate new work, I will always refer back to a framework. Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics gives great context for testing the functionality of a website.
By “standing on the shoulders of giants” (and perceived experts of the industry) you will instil confidence around your findings.
Always be a Leader
I’ve said this a couple of times already, but it’s important to be a leader. Bolster your reputation by giving a presentation at a conference, or even by writing an article. This establishes your credibility and people will start to seek you out for your expertise.
Continued education is also important as technologies and practices get old pretty quickly!
Work with Humility, Optimism and Empathy
Humility and empathy are very important qualities (skills?) to have.
It can be easy to get on your high horse when reviewing an existing design or system (for example “your website looks terrible!”) However, you won’t win any clients (or friends) with that attitude. Take a positive spin, use phrases like “this may help”. Try not to be too dogmatic or headstrong about your position.
You may be working under someone in more of a technical role. For example, once I was working on an EDM and was required to test my email development in a certain client browser. However, I had my doubts that this was a practical expenditure of time, given we were taking about an edge-case client. By challenging the project manager in a constructive way, I demonstrated my expertise and proved a solid basis for the work I was doing. You shouldn’t always do something, just because you’re told to.
To be a successful consultant you should always be learning and developing your skills, but also working with peers to pool your knowledge together and provide superior service. Using frameworks by other leaders in the field and employing a tactful and positive approach to your interactions with clients will be the cornerstone to personal success.
Do you provide a consulting service? If you think I’ve missed something add your two cents below!