Imagine this: Your consulting business has doubled overnight, but the size of your staff hasn’t. You’re not sure how you’re going to juggle all your clients at the same time and provide the same level of service.
So, where do you start?
Be smart about collecting, analyzing, and sharing data.
All good consultants know: Clients are their best resource. Gathering as many data points and insights as possible when working with clients will ensure greater efficiency in the diagnostic and implementation phases of any engagement. When consultants are smart about how they gather and analyze data, they spend less time worried about how to manage their workload and more time effectively working with clients.
But data collection and analysis means nothing when the findings aren’t effectively communicated to the client. Without the right communication, clients may feel left out of the process and powerless. They may even resign themselves to being entirely consultant-reliant, which is why growth-minded consulting firms know that one of the keys to freeing up bandwidth to work with other clients is client involvement.
Involve the client in the diagnostic process.
When clients approach you for consulting services, it’s likely for one of these three reasons:
- They don’t know what to do;
- They know what to do, but lack bandwidth to do it; or
- They know what to do, but need someone else to legitimize it.
In any of the above cases, clients know something’s amiss and they’re already invested in a solution. Leverage that awareness to involve the client in the diagnostic process.
When clients are involved in diagnosing their organizational issues, they become more invested in the success of the outcome, making it more likely that they’ll take on your recommendations. Accepting consultant recommendation is crucial to implementing any real change at the client site, so having the client involved from the very beginning will better equip them for the journey ahead.
Empower the client by building trust and commitment.
Knowing that client involvement in diagnosing organizational issues is crucial to not only client success, but also in freeing up consultant bandwidth, it’s essential to recognize potential client vulnerability as a result of that diagnostic involvement.
Think about it: Sometimes, the hardest exercise is self-reflection. Now, imagine being an executive or manager and uncovering all of your shortcomings and missteps, realizing how much those have impacted, or continue to impact, your business. This is an incredibly vulnerable position, and clients may retreat into self-preservation mode in order to regain control, ultimately disregarding your recommendation and falling back into the same issues they wanted solved to begin with.
When you’re empathetic and build trust with your clients, they’ll be more likely to commit to the recommendations you make and effectively implement necessary changes. By empowering your clients, you’ll spend less time handling objections and resistance to change, and instead work more efficiently and build long-term client relationships.
Leader self-awareness is critical.
Are you self-aware? Use this checklist to identify gaps.
Spend less time on business development.
When clients are involved in the diagnostic process, empowered to take action, and invested in the consultant relationship, they’re more likely to turn into repeat business. The more repeat business, the less time spent on business development—and the higher the likelihood of new clients coming to you by way of referral.
Good consultants know that the easiest way to get referral business is to ask for it. While working for the client, let the client also work for you. The less time you spend on business development, the more time you have to spend interfacing with clients, and the more everyone involved benefits. It’s a positive cycle that makes managing more clients easier—and scalable.