If you are considering hiring a business consulting firm to assist you with various aspects of running, marketing, and developing your business, the early days of contact with a consulting firm will tell you a lot about the type of business they operate. Read on for things to look for.
When you first speak with a marketing or business consulting company, their mission should be to learn as much about your business as possible. The rep should have excellent listening skills. You don’t want a cookie-cutter approach to business improvement or marketing; you want someone to understand the complexities of your business so they can make educated recommendations. The firm should be a fairly transparent organisation as well, that’s willing to talk a bit about what they can use to help you reach your goals. They may not reveal all their secrets prior to your signing a contract but they should be able to propose suggestions that you can see merit in.
A confidentiality agreement is commonplace. Your company wants to know that your proprietary information is safe. Your consultant will need access to a lot of information and you need to know the info is safe. You will also need to enter into an agreement that protects the consultant in terms of their proprietary secrets for how they help you succeed, their fees and payment schedules, etcetera. Not discussing a contract to protect everyone involved should be considered suspect.
When you deal with a consultant, you need to know what you can expect. Results will vary so specifics might seem difficult but there are parameters and results you should be able to expect when you invest in consulting services. A respectable consulting firm will make specific guarantees about improvements. You need to be comfortable with what you can expect.
Your business consultant needs to be approachable. You should have regular discussions and / or meetings to talk about progress. When talking initially to a new firm, you should be comfortable in that the person or people working on your campaign will be reasonably accessible.
How will you know what your consultant has brought in terms of delivering what has been promised? Ask them how this will be measured. Most often, instead of a specific dollar value (which is something most consultants can’t guarantee) other metrics might be in place to ascertain success. This might be in the form of: website visitors, generated sales leads, new customers, increase in productivity, lower staffing requirements due to process streamlining, and so on.