What can a consultant do with a client whose experience or that of his or her peers leaves them with a sense that consultants are arrogant and their advice needs to be viewed skeptically?
Regrettably, there are some consultants (like in any profession) whose attitude and presumption of being the expert will leave clients with the feeling you describe. The seemingly regular stream of negative newspaper stories and expose books on the consulting profession do not help the image of the consultant. However, you can mitigate this impression by your own behavior, both during the selling process as well as during the engagement. Both have to do with checking your ego at the door.
It is understandable to promote your successes when marketing your services, but clients only want to hear about what you did for the client, not how great you were in doing so. Remember, it is about them, not you. During the engagement, provide information and suggestions, not dictates. There are consultants who present findings as definitive and recommendations as conclusive. Both findings and recommendations are your best professional advice but reserve some humility that you might be in error and that it is in both the consultant and client's interest to arrive mutually at the best solutions possible.Tip:
"You Should..." are two words that are NOT music to the ears of your client. Without sounding unconfident, phrase your recommendations as "Our best research and analysis leads us to this finding and, based on this evidence, we recommend you consider ABC as your best option." Clients are at a (hopefully small) risk when taking your advice - don't compound it by sounding arrogant.© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA