Helping Clients Change

When you're solving complex problems, technical expertise is not enough.

Following yesterday's post: If your consulting business solves complex problems, cultivating technical expertise is not enough. To deliver on your promises, you must learn how to build consensus and help your clients change. That's change management.

Building consensus comes first.

Your client’s business may have only one name and brand, but it is far from being a simple system. It's a complex collection of people with different demands, desires, and opinions - many of which may conflict. If you got hired to successfully make changes to their business, all these people must work together.

Managing change comes second.

Getting everyone on the same page in only the first part of your challenge. Consultants must also help their clients change, and there are no clear instructions you can follow. It's the reason why not every expert does consulting - there's a huge difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it.

When you sell your consulting services, you are, in a sense, asking your clients to choose between the red and the blue pills. They know that if they take the red pill, they will have to face the unknown and make the change that they couldn't achieve in the past. Every change comes with a risk of failure.

To sell the idea of exchanging the current thing for something better, you will need to:

  • Ask difficult questions, and listen. The very best consultants aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions - in fact, that's how they become trusted advisors. Questioning the status quo, bringing outside perspective, and creating clarity means putting your clients' interests first.
  • Help your client recognize the truth of their situations and visualize a better future. Acknowledge that this change will come with pain. But show that it will ultimately lead them to a better place.
  • Identify those who oppose change and build internal teams that can sell them the need for change. You will need to provide these teams with powerful arguments, which means you have to identify the areas of conflict within the company and then build solutions that minimize the disagreements.

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