When a consultant needs a consultant….

Let’s not hide it. Even consultants need to check themselves and make sure they are getting it right.

Last week, I received a complaint from a client. Naturally, I believe I am right and they are not, but that is not the point. Nor is it merely a case of analysing why the matter arose. The question is what is the quality service I wish to provide and what is the best manner to deliver it.

With magnificent timing, I was reading an interview with Philip Kotler, Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a recognised top thinker on this issue.

In effect, the discussion turns out to be a fascinating outline for both client and for consultant – what they should both seek from each other in order to draw up a balanced relationship.

Sure, the client is right to demand value for money against specific milestones, which are then to be agreed in writing. Many issues focus on how they wanted to be branded and positioned.

Kotler is unrelenting in what the consultant has to provide in return. Most crucially, Kotler suggests that there is a need to develop a relationship that transcends the regular professional interaction.

Some people have a natural aptitude for gaining trust and respect from their clients. They are caring and sensitive people, good listeners and learners, and good problem solvers……Build a good database on each client’s activities, interests, opinions, and other pertinent information. This will enable you to customize your services and communications to each client.

Kotler refers to 3 other key points for the consultant:

  • Show how the work or project will save time and money
  • Document the use of time. Do not be afraid to do so nor update the client.
  • Show on-going concern for the client, such as sending articles of general interest.

It is a mute consideration if Kotler’s advice would have saved my relationship with my client. What is available is to continue improving communication channels with clients for the benefit of all parties.

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