Challenging clients and integration: two telling quotes

July 11, 2010

Heard on the grapevine last week: “my CEO friend tells me he only works with a handful of consultants. They’re argumentative and critical but they’ve been working with him for years.” And a day later: “I used to be fed up of hearing all the talk about how the web was going to change the way we operate. But once it had been put into context, I agreed.”

They may be amongst the first things mentioned in any Consulting for Dummies type handbook, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat them.

First, you’re far more likely to succeed in the long-run if you challenge the brief. Again and again. Every consulting function that largely focuses on execution eventually becomes a commodity which someone else can do faster and cheaper. You’ll only stay in your client’s good books in the long run through added-value thinking, and that invariably means challenging the client. In short, don’t just agree then execute. Think creatively, challenge, and only then execute.

Second, there’s no point harping on about a channel like the web unless you’re putting it into context. That context should be what someone is doing already: so you’re not selling something new; but rather, you’re integrating a new set of tools and an existing client reality and making it better. In short, the web isn’t great because it’s yet another channel; and a new and shiny one at that. But it may be great for you if you can take what you’re doing already and further improve your reputation, reach, influence, sales (or whatever) through smart integration.

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