While there are few career paths that some would call perfect, being a consultant comes pretty close to having it all. Yet there are challenges and pitfalls that are sometimes overwhelming and unexpected. Whether it's helping a client increase sales, improve efficiency, prevent a crisis or convince a client why a particular strategy might work, challenges are always to be faced. When analyzing, identifying and exploring the most specific challenges high on the consultant's list, there are a few that would probably be considered the greatest of all. Following are some of those challenges and how a few successful consultants have overcome them.
One very huge challenge most consultants face is dealing with a client who has lofty goals, but lacks a forward thinking attitude. When it comes to a client's business, more often than not they're fearful about spending money. Usually they'll expect big results from very small investments.
Quoting Beth Gasser of Vivid Image, "Often our clients are short term oriented and don't consider the most important longer term strategies. Clients may be willing to put money into advertisements for today but when encouraged to consider more effective campaigns, which span a year or five-year period, they hold back."
Beth also told me that client's are shortsighted making it more difficult to observe and track ROI progress. " When we ask a client, which we do unfailingly, if our services are showing progress, they either don't know or guess." For Beth, this has been a very frustrating component as she is extremely conscientious about helping her clients achieve. "We began questioning ourselves as to how we could get client's to return if we couldn't prove to them that we've made a difference." To alleviate this dilemma, Beth explained that they've now hired a Marketing Strategist to help their company develop measurement tools that are given to their clients. "We teach them how to use these tools so there will be no more guessing," stated Beth.
Creative Ways of Attracting Clients
Another huge challenge that confronts all consultants has to do with getting past the "How Much Does it Cost?" phase. That of course not only requires patience, but a lot of inventiveness and creativity as well. Writing letters, introducing your company, creating press releases, developing a web site and of course networking are all critical to the success of any business, but in a competitive market such as the Internet, the challenge is even greater. What that means to the consultant is that he or she must conceive of unique measures for opening doors to their services and that demands different approaches.
Patrick Bremer, Marketing Consultant of www.exposure.com, an Internet consulting firm, recently shared an idea that helped him overcome a particular challenge. "Limited thinking in regard to the immense importance of a web site in today's marketplace surprises me," said Patrick. "When approaching a prospective client, often their first question is how much will a web site cost? Getting past that first inquiry is one of the greatest challenges for a marketing consultant since costs vary so greatly.
Initially I wasn't sure how to respond to that inquiry because I didn't want to lose the client off the bat by quoting something too soon. After giving it some thought, I came up with a method that relates buying a web site to buying a car. I tell prospective clients that you can buy a car for $15,000 or $50,000, but ultimately your decision depends on what it is you actually intend with the purchase of your car. By the same token a web site can be acquired for $1,500.00 or 150,000.00 which requires knowing what exactly are your ultimate goals. Until we sit down together and discuss the objectives of your site I won't know what it is you're hoping to achieve.
Patrick told me that once he states it in those terms, it's usually enough to get the client to agree to meet with him at which time he's able to determine what best fits the client's budget and what web site design best meets with their needs."
Relating to and Understanding a Clients Needs
Because a consultant commonly seeks to offer newer and more progressive ideas to an organization, the consultant's challenge is to relate to and understand different client's needs and their overall business agenda.
Jeff Weaver of Eros Technology, said, "Often, prospects have a difficult time grasping the full benefits of a particular software addition. They may not understand how implementing the new software can help augment their business. How we deal with a challenge of this nature is to implement upgrades in phases. This allows a staff to gain a better grasp of a particular module."
Jeff went on to say, "Clients might not have a handle on the importance of adding something new to their business, so we carefully research different markets by attending conventions, exploring the Internet and doing whatever we can to discover exactly what will bring the greatest benefit to our clients. We then gather together as a team to discuss the circumstances, gaining different perspectives and ideas on how to overcome a specific situation."
There are always going to be times when a potential or existing client may challenge your suggestions or method of operation, but you have to hear and understand where a client is coming from even when you don't agree. Your goal as a consultant is to become known as a solution finder, and the only way to do that is to become aware of your client's concerns and help them go beyond those concerns. As Consultants we always have the choice to either permit our challenges to defeat us or simply use them as an opportunity to transcend specific hurdles.
About the Author
Charlene Rashkow brings 15 years of experience to her creative efforts as a freelance business writer/consultant. She has successfully helped companies and individuals reach their objectives by writing outstanding business plans, press releases, bios, articles of interest, resumes, web site content and all other forms of marketing material. You may contact Charlene Rashkow at www.allyourwritingneeds.com or write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call her directly at (310) 514-4844
"Movin' On Up" an e-book chock full of tips
for overcoming any business hurdle
Visit Our Web Site - www.allyourwritingneeds.com
Send us an E-mail - email@example.com