If you’ve been in business for some time, you might have made some mistakes in the past that make you cringe when you recall them. These are my pick of the seven biggest consulting blunders to avoid.
Nowadays, we’re told to accept our mistakes, embrace our mistakes, even celebrate the fact that we’re making lots of mistakes. Besieged with countless memes quoting famous folk, they educate us to view our blunders as learning and growth opportunities.
Common Mistakes Consultants Make and How to Avoid Them
The term consultant refers to a professional who provides expert advice in an area of specialisation, e.g. marketing consultant, management consultant, etc.
Now a bit of fun fact. Did you know that Mauco Enterprises started as internet consultants before transforming into marketing consultants? Well, now, you know 🙂
So don’t get confused if you see articles or directory listings where they still address us as internet consultants.
What separates the top consultants from the others? Below I share the seven big mistakes that consultants and business owners typically make and how avoiding these can help rapidly speed up any consulting career.
At the start of a consulting engagement, there are ample opportunities to make mistakes. Unfortunately, errors at such an early stage in a project can often become magnified later in the process and lead to disastrous results.
Since no one is perfect, I have committed some of these consulting blunders at one point or the other in my career or a project. But I try to learn from my mistakes and move on. Therefore, I’m motivated to write this article so you too can learn from my mistakes and not repeat them.
Promising What You Can’t Deliver
Your business needs clients to survive. As a result, it is not unusual for you to go overboard and promise anything to attract or keep a customer. But this is a huge mistake. If you over-promise and under-deliver, you will lose your customer when you cannot deliver as promised.
So it is better and a lot safer to under-promise and over-deliver. Under-promising allows you to provide something ‘extra’. This ‘extra’ is something the customer is not expecting. It will help to create goodwill with your customer. It may also translate to the customer speaking well about you to others. They may refer new customers to you.Avoid the temptation to give a quote without knowing the entire project scope. Click To Tweet
Not Knowing the Project Scope
When a customer calls you to make inquiries, he or she is often most interested in your prices. Avoid the temptation to give a quote without knowing the entire project scope. Instead of allowing the customer to lure you straight into discussing price, ask yourself, are you selling value or price?
Focus the customer’s attention on the value that he/she will derive from doing business with you. To get expert knowledge of the project scope, put a system in place. If possible, let the customer give a detailed written document of their objectives and the project scope. Don’t give a quote or talk about cost without knowing the project scope.
Arguing With Your Client
As much as possible, avoid arguing with your client during client meetings. Do as much as you can to accommodate your client’s terms and requests. But don’t compromise any of your principles.
But if the client’s requests prove too much for you to bear, it is better to part ways in peace than arguing. Arguing is not professional.If possible, let the customer give a detailed written document of their objectives and the project scope. Click To Tweet
Using the Wrong Employee or Technology
After you understand the project scope well, you can assign resources to the project. It will also help you know the technology to deploy to make your job easier and better delivered. For instance, as a marketing consultant, I have to keep abreast of all the latest tools and technology. It helps me know which tool would be the right fit for a particular project.
Not Seeking Expert Advice
Although you might be an expert in your field, it does not mean you know everything. So, there’s nothing wrong if you seek your colleagues’ advice or advice from mentors in the business. It will help you avoid potential pitfalls that you might not have known. It is a good thing to have a crop of friends, colleagues, and mentors that you can turn to for advice.
Taking on The Wrong Client or Project
As mentioned earlier, you need customers to stay in business. But this does not mean that every customer or every project will be the right fit for you. Knowing when to walk away from a client or a project is sometimes necessary. It doesn’t sound nice, I know, but it’s for the best.
Make clear what type of client or project you are comfortable taking on. Stick close to that image. Don’t take on all clients and all projects or be a jack of all trades. Focus on a particular niche and specialise in perfecting your skills in providing solutions to your niche market needs.After you understand the project scope well, you can assign resources to the project. Click To Tweet
Being Arrogant and Overconfident
Avoid being arrogant and overconfident. Portraying confidence in front of your client is essential. This quality will help to make them trust you with their business. Having said this, you don’t need to be arrogant or overconfident. Doing so will lead to you losing clients.
Some of these mistakes mentioned in this article stem from arrogance! If you’re arrogant, you’re bound to ignore the fact that potential clients always have multiple options available to them. So instead of being arrogant, listen to what they have to say and learn about them–instead of just focusing on the next buck–you will have a more successful consulting business than you ever imagined.
Though I’ve labelled the blunders below as “additional” mistakes, they are equally important as those mentioned above.
Do not fail to have a written contract in place, which explains the scope of the project. Many freelance consultants are eager to take on clients. And those in developing countries are afraid of losing potential clients by asking them to sign a contract. But it’s critical to learn to stick to the agreed-upon project contract. Not having a contract sets you up for problems later on during the project. Your contract should stipulate things like a 30-days payment period, unpaid invoices and any penalties for late payment.Make clear what type of client or project you are comfortable taking on. Click To Tweet
No Insurance Coverage
If practised in your country, it is good to have professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance, to protect you and your personal assets from mistakes or errors made regarding your consulting services. According to this article, this type of insurance will determine who pays in the event of a claim.
With decades of experience, I’ve seen some terrible practices with how consultants work with clients. Running a consulting company is tough, and sadly it’s a lot less sexy than it seems.
Being new to the consulting game can be a challenge–especially if you’re going it alone. There are always things you need to learn, whether it is a new industry, unique geography, a new function, a new person to work with, etc. All the other consultants are just as proficient as you. To avoid self-employment’s growing pains, learn some common mistakes so you can avoid them.Don't take on all clients and all projects or be a jack of all trades. Click To Tweet
With the pandemic and more companies entering the marketplace, the need to attract and keep customers will increase. Remember that mistakes by your team members are not to be punished but learned from! Keep encouraging your team to do their best.
These are my seven biggest consulting blunders. If you are a marketing consultant, try to steer clear of making these blunders. I hope that you’ve found this post of some value. If so, please share it with your friends and colleagues using any of the share buttons on this page.
What about you? What are the most significant blunders that you’ve made? Let me know on Twitter @ademolaabimbola or @mauconline.
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