I often feel that hiring consultants is almost viewed on the same levels as attorneys or ex-lovers, we’re not always viewed in the greatest light. Quite often, meeting with prospective clients can turn into almost an interrogation for you to prove that you are not what they presume you are…a leach looking to drain them for all they’re worth. It doesn’t phase me, I actually enjoy the challenge and find it rewarding when my company is hired.
Having said that, here’s a list of common questions which hopefully will shed a little light on what you are in for when hiring consultants:
Q: When I ask consultants what they charge, I can never get a straight answer. They say “it depends”.
A: In part, this is true for some of us as it depends upon the needs of the client and the nature of the problem. However, unlike most firms, my company DOES list our consulting fees on our website. This gives prospective clients a level of transparency and sense of trust in us.
Q: They give great ideas, a fancy slide presentation and then poof…they’re gone.
A: Every initial interaction with a prospective client, I begin with “What is your ultimate success measure for this engagement…validation, improvement, strategic thinking?” I always stress the implementation and execution and communicate to them that this is where my true value is added.
Q: We can do this ourselves so why would we need you?
A: In many cases, a company may possess the knowledge to solve their issue. Where the difference lies is that my sole focus will be to address this problem. I’m not involved in your day-to-day and while I will leverage the expertise of the staff and engage with them throughout the project, they’re primary focus will be on the business and their daily job. I also bring project management expertise and can ensure the project is moving forward, as opposed to being put on the back burner or shelved due to “Business As Usual” obligations.
Q: Yes, we’re thinking of hiring consultants, but you’re not a McKinsey, Bain, or BCG.
A: True, I’m not. They’re good at what they do and I’m great at what I do. While I can’t speak for them, what I can promise you is: 1. I am the face that your company has put their trust in and I am the face you will see until the engagement is complete; 2. Although my fees are less than theirs, they are far from the bottom of the industry. But I guarantee that the quantifiable benefit that I will provide (actual dollars and cents) will far surpass my service fees.
Q: About those service fees, your rates seem pretty high. How do we justify that cost?
A: Let’s look at the return on that investment, because that’s what it is, an investment. On one project, by revamping the client’s finance department, instituting a lean waste program, and reconfiguring billing & collections, in 4 months I saved this company over $750,000 annually. For another client, I discovered an error on their books which resulted in an additional $2 million in available funds for use on company projects. So the question becomes, would you pay 10, 20, or even 30 thousand to save $2 million?