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Reluctant Prospect? 10 Reasons to Hire a Consultant

Why aren’t more clients hiring you?

Coast through just one industrial park in New Jersey and you’ll pass Alberts Organics ($25 million)… VWR International ($4.4 billion)… Pinochle Paradise ($239 million). Okay, I made up Pinochle Paradise but the other two are there along with 170 other establishments of myriad sizes and industries.

Every time I drive through a commercial district like that New Jersey industrial park on my way to a client site, I’m amazed at the sheer number and variety of businesses. Consultants who travel with me know I always remark, “Why aren’t all these companies our clients?”

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Of course, most of the enterprises you cruise by don’t know who you are. But think of all the companies represented in your contact list. Corporations where you have access to a decision-maker, yet not a single dollar of their annual budget is steered your way. Why not?

They don’t think they need you.

Even when your skills and experience are perfectly suited to help them succeed, they still don’t realize or remember the benefit of engaging you. Perhaps you simply have to remind them of the good reasons to bring in an outside expert to help with the important initiatives on their plates.

Below is a list of legitimate rationale for engaging a consultant like you. It wouldn’t hurt to mention these to your prospects.

10 Reasons to Hire a Consultant
(for an Important, Company Initiative)


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15 Comments
  1. Katharine Halpin
    August 31, 2016 at 8:21 am Reply

    I find with some of my clients they are, unfortunately most of these and it comes down to arrogance. They believe they are more competent than they really are and they believe their goals will be easier to achieve than in reality. Bottom line, in our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, decision-makers are often delusional about their current reality and the high price their organization is paying for the poor performers.

    • Anatoli Naoumov
      August 31, 2016 at 9:29 am Reply

      Katharine, how does knowing what you have listed helps you close projects?

    • David A. Fields
      August 31, 2016 at 1:15 pm Reply

      No doubt we’ve all run into plenty of prospects who have an over-inflated impression of their company’s capabilities. In those situations, I’ve found one of the best tactics is to ask them how they’ll know (i.e., measure) progress along the way. Then I can check in with them and if, as I suspected, their progress isn’t what they’d hoped, the door is then open for a project.

      Thanks for pointing out the challenge, Katharine.

  2. Susan
    August 31, 2016 at 9:14 am Reply

    To diminish risk. I am a healthcare accreditation consultant, and even when there are competent and knowledgeable people, they do not understand the depth of the standards’ requirements. As a surveyor, I have more comprehensive knowledge of how the standards are applied, and therefore I can decrease the risk that the company has for not meeting standards. I also have seen a breadth of how to meet the standards that are efficient and have proven effective, and therefore can shorten the team in rumination and error in pursuing other methods that have not shown to be effective and therefore save money. There are many other reasons that resonate that are listed, but at least risk is one that I see as very beneficial in my sector and practice.

    • David A. Fields
      August 31, 2016 at 1:17 pm Reply

      Great point, Susan. Risk reduction, mitigation and reallocation are definitely a good reasons to bring in a consultant. As Katharine pointed out in her comment, sometimes even if you understand the requirements better than your prospects do, they may not realize it, which can be frustrating. Thanks for being part of the conversation!

  3. Anatoli Naoumov
    August 31, 2016 at 9:28 am Reply

    In addition to the list above, reasons I came across are:
    – “my C-level is more likely to consider a suggestion from a consultant”,
    – consultant brings experience acquired and solutions proven at other company’s expense, aka lower risk
    – consultants leave when project is over, aka no payroll load
    – consulting fees can be put in a wider variety of budget lines

    • David A. Fields
      August 31, 2016 at 1:23 pm Reply

      Anatoli, those are great additions. The first rationale is, to me, less legitimate. It’s close to the CYA reason for hiring consultants that is a waste of scarce resources. On the other hand, lower risk (as Susan pointed out also), lower cost and budget spreading are all excellent reasons for bringing in outside experts. Your points are well taken.

  4. Tom Borg
    August 31, 2016 at 9:30 am Reply

    Another great reason to hire a consultant is because you will get the straight truth and avoid the emperor has no clothes syndrome. In other words, you will get honest and objective feedback that is not tainted by your position power.

    • David A. Fields
      August 31, 2016 at 1:30 pm Reply

      Boy, Tom, that is so true. Particularly when you’re working with the top of the organization, the need for an objective, honest, no-holds-barred adviser is high. Of course, that requires us to be willing to voice unpopular opinions to our clients, even if those opinions could negatively affect our future work with them. Thank you for adding this rationale to the list.

  5. Daniel Greiff
    August 31, 2016 at 10:16 am Reply

    Having worked with CEO’s for many years, it’s clear most have difficulty asking for help. It’s probably a combination feeling embarrassed, fear of exposing a weakness ,or simply recognizing that they “don’t know what they don’t know”..’I have found that when CEO’s reach the level of looking in the mirror at their own image, or sitting on a park bench alone or sitting in their office feeling lonely and frightened, they usually come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with reaching out, not ask for, but to SCREAM for– help

    • David A. Fields
      August 31, 2016 at 1:35 pm Reply

      Daniel, your thoughts mesh nicely with Tom’s and Katharine’s. It’s lonely at the top and, once they’re willing to admit they don’t know everything, CEOs need the wise, independent counsel of an outside expert. I appreciate you participating in the discussion.

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