Clients hire you to help them make a change.
Sometimes this consists of tackling complex problems - a challenge they never faced before, where a "right answer" simply doesn't exist. It's not clear what success means. Your goal is to guide them through the exploration process, and provide expert advice so they can reduce risk and make better decisions.
Most often, however, clients hire you to make improvements to their business.
It could be growing their revenue. Reducing fixed costs. Improving employee morale and engagement.
When that's the case, it's your responsibility to clarify what the specific outcome they are looking for is. This happens during your sales conversations - more specifically, in what we call the context discovery.
Having a clear success indicator is important for several reasons, such as:
- It reduces scope creep by shifting the focus from deliverables to outcomes.
- It allows you to price your services based on value, instead of time or materials.
- It helps to reduce the value-quality gap, demonstrating to clients how your projects actually generate value for money.
But there's another advantage that many consultants overlook: The ability to measure and track progress.
It is as simple as it sounds. All you need to do is to measure your KPIs during your engagement - in a recurring period or for every phase of the project. This allows you to not only compare the current results with their starting point (and industry benchmarks) but also spot problems along the way.
I'm always surprised by how much clients enjoy seeing this. It seems like, surrounded by thousands of meaningless numbers in their day-to-day work, they have lost their ability to distinguish signal from noise. Until you, the expert, uncover and highlight the 2 to 3 metrics that really matter.
Do you do that with your consulting clients? If not, how can you start?