The last two weeks, we have been looking at basic understanding of good consulting practices. Today, we will focus on how a consultant can effectively gain entry into an engagement with the client. First, we need to justify why it is important to gain entry effectively.
A consultant needs to effectively gain entry for three main reasons. The first reason is to start the relationship with the client. Secondly, gaining entry grants the consultant the right to proceed with the consulting engagement. Thirdly, gaining entry effectively helps to grow the relationship between the consultant and the client. But how exactly can one gain entry effectively? There are three main things that a consultant should bear in mind to gain entry effectively.
First is establishing rapport. If you are to effectively gain entry into a consulting engagement, you need to establish rapport with the client. Rapport helps you to create a good connection with the client. This means that the understanding between the client and the consultant will be very clear and effective once good rapport has been established between the two.
You can establish rapport by listening actively. Clients won’t bond well with the consultant if they don’t feel that they are listened to. You can also build rapport by showing empathy in the engagement—showing the client that you can see the problem through their eyes. Show the client that you sense the pressure surrounding the problem and put yourself in their shoes. Another way in which you can establish rapport is by encouraging openness. Create an environment and situation where both of you can speak openly and frankly to each other through authentic and candid discussion.
The second way in which you can effectively gain entry is by establishing your credibility. Clients want to feel and believe that you are competent in the field that you consult. They must believe that you are the best person to handle their problem. You can create this kind of credibility by doing three things. First, understand the client’s business and what they do. From the outset, demonstrate that you have a very good and accurate understanding of the client’s business. Ask well-informed and relevant questions. It helps to do some ground work and research into the business and background of the client.
You can also establish credibility by selling your experience. Relate some of the current challenges that the client is facing to some of the previous problems that you have tackled. This way, the client will have a lot of respect and belief in you as a capable consultant. However, be cautious not to overdo the selling of previous experience because if you overdo it, the client might be afraid that you may just provide them with a pre-packaged solution from previous consultancies. You can also build credibility by simply displaying competence and professionalism. Handle the telephone calls, greetings, e-mails and all engagement in a manner that reinforces rather than destroycredibility.
Thirdly, you can effectively gain entry by building trust and confidence. You can achieve this in three ways. First, respect the interests of your client. Avoid to be seen as someone who has come to find faults, but rather be seen as a problem solver. Make the client to continuously feel to be in control. Don’t scare them with losing control as one of the outcomes of your engagement.
Show integrity so that the client should feel comfortable to leave you with confidential information. Sound as someone compelled to protect confidential information and as someone who will not be looking to get illegal access to information that they don’t really need for the engagement or exercise. You can also build trust and confidence by showing genuine interest in the client and in their issues.
Good luck as you rise and shine with good practice consulting hints and tips!