January 29, 2021

Earlier in my career, I thought being a management consultant was about being smart (and right!).


But somehow, clients didn’t appreciate me as much as I thought they would. How could that be?


One day, thankfully, an older partner took me to the side. And he explained …


And that’s when I started to figure it out.


Initially, I considered myself a smart analyst going after client problems analytically. A true SME (subject-matter expert) with stringent logic.


Plus, I knew that I was right! That’s why clients pay the big bucks, right?


But somehow clients didn’t appreciate me as much as I thought they would.


Hmm, how could that be?


Clients look for insight, insight into what’s happening


Why do clients deal with consultants, lawyers, any professional service provider? Sure, they are looking for subject-matter expertise. They want to benefit from your wider and broader experience, your perspective. But to a large degree, it’s about judgment. Clients look for a guide so that they don’t fail.


Analysts, however, come at $5 a dozen – I exaggerate.


They’re exchangeable. True advisors aren’t!


That’s why you need to step up to the plate and share with your client what you observe.


It’s the right questions that make clients see


You need to put yourself into their shoes and imagine what it will take for them to work with your findings. You need to think your clients’ thoughts.


An observation, by the way, starts with something like, “I notice” or “I wonder.” And you offer it as information — and not as the truth!


Let the client decide whether it’s relevant, whether it means something or not. And all of a sudden you may find yourself in an engaging discussion with your client, starting to get to know them, going after their real problems.


And that’s how you’ll climb the relevance ladder at your client’s – fast. And leave the commodity bracket.



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