The biggest mistake consultants make time and time again is not knowing when to shut up.
I get it. He does can anyone possibly get any value from a consultant who just sits there? And more importantly, how can I convince the client that they need me to stick around for another 10-week extension if I just twiddle my thumbs while the folks controlling the corporate wallets decide where they need to tighten their fiscal belts? It all makes perfect sense, except for one thing.
Nobody likes a know-it-all.
And when you never worked on the industry side of the desk, you look especially foolish talking down at people. The preferred approach is a consulting version of inception. You collaborate with your client, talking to them in such a way they vocalize your vision and think its their own. Asking great questions builds a much stronger rapport than you monologuinf about what you think you know. The fact is relying on collaboration and humility is the only way any change you’re recommending is going to last longer than it takes you to get back to your car in the parking lot.
You need to take this approach not because your client’s slow on the uptake but rather to ensure the value of your proposal makes sense for the organization. Many variables determine the likelihood of a successful consulting engagement but once your client believe the idea to be his/her own you know you have a winner on your hands AND you successfully communicated what’s in it for them. Without the latter, your great idea will forever be just another concept with no substance to back it up.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.