Things Good Consultants Say

I am so excited!

There’s an absolutely fabulous article on the Inc. magazine web site. Okay, everything they publish is good. But this article is way up there.

The point the author makes is that consultants who get results and deliver a great service say certain things while they are pitching for business.

Business owners who listen for them can dramatically reduce their risk when selecting or hiring a consultant.

Why am I excited? Because we say these things all the time – we really do!

Here are my favourites.

1. “I don’t know.” Why would you say anything else? The client is going to figure out that you don’t know what you’re talking about sooner or later. And we’re not in business to learn at a client’s expense.

Consultants should only offer services in areas with which they’re intimately familiar (no I won’t use the “expert” word, I dislike it intensely). That’s because they’ve spent a long time acquiring skill and experience in the topic. And they’re still learning and staying up to date in the field.

Our field was originally strategy development and execution. To that we’ve recently added succession planning

2. “You can do that on your own.” I’m going to meet a client later today and tell him just that. Why? Because he has the expertise to complete some of the project steps in house.

I appreciate it when the people and companies I deal with try to save me money. Why wouldn’t our clients feel the same? And the time that we save by taking this approach we spend looking for things that truly only we can do.

It’s also our policy to bill out at the rate of the person who does the work. So if we use support staff to complete a task, we bill it at their rate, not mine. Yes I’m a Scotsman but I like to live up to my name as the “canny Scotsman”.

3. “I still don’t understand the requirements.” I’ll risk appearing slow to understand at the front end of a project to avoid risking missed expectations at the back end.

Despite the number of years I’ve been in business it never ceases to amaze me how quickly and easily misunderstandings occur. One bad assumption about what was meant can lead to great frustration – and damage to our reputation.

So, if there’s any room for misinterpretation it’s better to ask a clarifying question.

4. “We’ll want to come back later to see how things turned out.” The challenge for our profession is that the consulting assignment could be finishing just as the real work is starting.

Call me nosey but, while some consultants will walk away at the end of the project, I want to know if the work we did produced results. That’s as important for us as it is for our clients.

If we’re not getting results we won’t be in business long. And I’d like a lot of warning and an opportunity to do something about it before that happens.

We offer review meetings as an option for our strategy development and strategy execution services. Even if the client opts not to use us to structure and facilitate those meetings I’ll often ask if I can sit in for part of one and listen.

The article which caused my state of advanced excitement is called “8 Things Great Consultants Say” and it’s written by Jeff Haden.

This is a guest post by Jim Stewart of

Jim Stewart is the founder and CEO of ProfitPATH a growth strategy firm based in Toronto. For the past 15 years he has worked with entrepreneurs and business owners who want to increase profits and improve the value of their company.  Prior to that he spent 25 years working in major corporations (including subsidiaries of Pitney Bowes, Xerox and ITT) in Canada and Internationally. After holding positions as a Marketing and Sales Executive he became CEO of the Canadian arm of one of those companies. He has an MBA and holds the CMC (Certified Management Consultant) designation.

 You can contact Jim at [email protected] or call him at  416-487-0276

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