By Catherine Byers Breet w/ Arbez
She hired my consultant(Mary) to make sure Tom didn't miss the product launch date. Two weeks later, she fired Tom … but kept Mary. Mary called me in a panic, then I called my client (while trying not to panic). This is how that little chat went:
“Hello Amy. So, you hired Mary to help Tom … but Mary just told me that you let Tom go. What would you like to do with Mary
My client responded with the truth: “I didn’t really hire Mary to HELP Tom. I hired her to replace Tom, but HR wouldn’t let me tell you that. I needed to make sure she could handle to job before I fired Tom. I’m happy to report that Mary is terrific, and I’d like to keep her through the end of this project. After that, I’d like to keep her and put her on another critical project.”
I wish Amy had told me the full story at the beginning, but sometimes the client cannot disclose such delicate employee performance issues to a vendor. Sure, your client needs you to solve a business problem … but the real problem might be something other than what they share with you. Savvy consultants know how to dig in deep, uncover the hidden problems and avoid political landmines. Most of the time, the hidden problems are the ones that really matter.
There are 10 reasons companies hire consultants. Use this list to help you ask the right questions, discover what’s really going on … and be the one they love. The better you get at doing this, the faster you’ll become the one your clients are fighting to keep.
1. Their needs are TEMPORARY, and they need a FLEXIBLE LABOR POOL (every business has high seasons and low seasons. For example, Home Depot needs many more people in the spring and summer than in the winter).
2. They don't know HOW to do the work (nobody in-house with the expertise they need). For example, … when companies are implementing a new technology platform, launching a brand-new product or breaking into new markets, consultants can be a very smart solution to their knowledge gaps.
3. They don't have TIME to do the work (special projects, mergers and acquisitions, etc.)
4. They DON'T WANT to do the work (I hate doing taxes, so I hired an accountant. He's better and faster than me, so I'm free to do what I do best. Our business is healthier because of it).
5. Their need is URGENT, and they CANNOT WAIT to hire a full-time person (hiring processes are much longer for a full-time position).
6. They don’t know what their LONG-TERM STAFFING NEEDS WILL BE LONG-TERM. They need and want the help right now, but they are not sure if they will have the need or the money long-term to keep you on.
7. They don’t have MONEY or APPROVAL to hire a full-time employee. However, they do have funding for a contract position. Many companies have separate budgets for contract workers and full-time employees. There may be a hiring freeze on, or no more money in their fiscal budget for a full-time hire, while there is still money in the contracting budget.
8. They want to "TRY BEFORE THEY BUY." The great thing about this is that it works both ways. If you hate working there, you can turn down their offer to go full-time (if it comes along). If they don't think you're working out well for them, they won't extend your contract or offer you a full-time job. It will hurt, but not nearly as badly as getting cut from a full-time job.
9. They want and need a FRESH PERSPECTIVE. Outsiders often see things people on the inside do not. They bring fresh ideas from the outside and see the possibilities and risks in new light.
10. They want to SAVE MONEY. The truth is that employee benefits are expensive. And with the rising cost of healthcare, they are getting even higher. Bringing in specialized talent for a short amount of time can be a great way to get your project done and keep your costs down.
Now that you understand when and why companies use consultants, use it as a guide to ask good questions before and during your next project. Once you understand your client’s compelling reasons for bringing you in, you can let that be your guide in terms of how you deliver. For example, if their compelling reason is politics (#10), you need to know that!
We can help! This is just a small taste of what is waiting for you in our consulting course. Join Catherine for her course “How to become a highly paid consultant.” with step by step proven success strategies.