How to Find a High Performing Consultant

Carl Erickson

All too often, people in business who are successful financially can be seen as mercenary. The reality is that some very successful organizations and individuals are actually more interested in the pursuit and application of their craft than money. We are not suggesting they will be the low cost provider but they will consistently be in the top performing category of services. So what are the tell tail signs of such consultants?

Signs of a High Performing Consultant

  • They will spend one-on-one time with any staff member, regardless of title – We have spent considerable time with some of the most influential leaders of some of the largest companies in the world. A pattern that was clear to us is how they respectfully engaged with every member of staff regardless of job title when appropriate. We looked for this pattern across many consulting firms within our clients and saw an interesting pattern. Those which were the most respected intentionally built relationships at all levels and it was not an accident.       Consultants who get it understand that their solutions often impact the entire organization, not just key influencers and decision makers.
  • They will challenge management thinking and decisions – Anyone who said the client is always right, is wrong. Does your external or even internal consultant have enough belief in what they are doing that they will challenge decisions around it? Assuming it is appropriately communicated, do you have the ability to hear it? A relationship that is all smooth sailing will not necessarily build the best outcomes and the most trust. If a consultant is avoiding the tough issues, the question is why?
  • They will demonstrate value from the organization’s perspective – Consultants that seek to understand personal and professional motivations so they can think more holistically about situations for you are few and far between. They look at value differently. They try to understand value from both perspectives so that their support of you and the company can be congruent. They will also help to understand when those goals might not be aligned and talk to you about how that impacts what they and you might be doing.
  • They will under-promise and over-deliver – In 21 years, Beacon has never had a bad debt. While there are many contributing factors including luck, there is a cornerstone of how we operate that is embedded in our principles, the client comes first and will we do everything humanly possible to help them succeed. Even when projects go sideways as some do for a variety of reasons, the commitment is never questioned by those who actually see the effort and work being performed. This is a pattern in many other organizations who are seen as some of the best. Interestingly, many others fail to invest extra time into helping clients with complex issues that almost always arise in transformation efforts unless they extract their cash. Depending upon the situation, they may in fact receive the cash. However, from the many implementation and win loss feedback sessions we have performed globally, we have seen this position often create an irreparable gap in the relationship.

The pattern seems to be that when a client organization feels that a consultant is genuinely invested in the organization’s success, a couple good things happen. First, trust in the consultant goes way up, which allows them to obtain better information about the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. Second, implementation of the consultant’s recommendations and plans is much more likely to occur, since key stakeholders feel that the consultant is looking out for the organization’s best interests. Finally, the client is more likely to share and think through future plans with you so that the opportunity to win business non-competitively goes up dramatically.

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