As the saying goes, if at first, you don’t succeed, hire someone else who knows what they are doing to do it for you!
And that’s exactly what consultants are all about. They can give you advice to help you with your work and take your work to the next level.
Here are some key questions to ask a consultant.
1. What Experience Do you have?
If you are hiring a consultant then you don’t want to hire one who has just gone into business or who has very little experience in the line of work you are doing. Even if they are offering a discount you should be wary.
The best consultants and the ones you should trust are the ones that are themselves and tell you the truth rather than rattling off some marketing or corporate spin.
A new consultant that knows very little can sometimes do more damage than not having one at all.
Ask them how many years they have been in operation. How many clients do they currently have and what industries have they worked in before.
Most good consultants are experts in their field that have retired early to pursue consulting. Ex-CEOs and Wall Street bankers are two groups of people that often make for good consultants.
If you’re working on an IT project then hiring a company like Microsoft, who offer pay as you go services for consulting, is a no-brainer since their reputation is known all over the world.
2. Do you Understand Our Business?
This is the number one important question that you need to figure out. To understand this you need to explain your business to them to see what their reaction is.
Tell them your goals and they should come back to you with lots of advice based on other clients they have worked with.
Ask them about what they would do in a specific scenario related to your business. Be sure to throw in some buzzwords and key terms from your industry to see what their reaction is.
Do they have a vision and a long term strategy for helping your business achieve its goals? And does this vision chime with the vision that you have for your business.
3. What Work Have You Done for Other Clients?
This is crucial. Your consultant needs to understand your business goals and vision. And the only way you can be confident that they know how to achieve this goal is to be confident in other work that they have done.
Ask them what other clients they have worked for. They might say they cannot answer this question as they respect client confidentiality. However, you can ask them to comment on detail about the nature of the work they have for other clients.
If they were an IT business perhaps they were about to invest heavily in an IT system and the consultancy advised against it, finding them a cheaper system that delivered the same results.
If they are a financial consultancy then perhaps they advised a company on how to invest to secure a strong return and their year-on-year profits increased.
You also need to decide what kind of consultant you want. A management consultancy will help you improve different aspects of your business to a financial consultancy or is just focused on growing your profits. An IT security consultant will just help you protect against cyber attacks.
4. How much Input will we Have?
Before you receive an answer to this question as a business you need to decide what answer you are looking for. It’s not as simple as coming up with consulting questions or questions to ask in a consulting interview it’s also about deciding how you want the relationship to work.
Some consultants are very hands-off. This can suit some businesses who are busy with other tasks and just want a report on how to improve productivity.
Perhaps the consultant is just focusing on one small aspect of the business in which case only those team members in that department need to liaise with the consultant.
A lot of businesses, however, want a hands-on consultant. Some will come and work in the office for a few days a week to observe what is going on giving you constant feedback.
Other consultants will arrange meetings with you every week and will set key members of the business targets and goals.
Be cautious of consultants who are not upfront about how much input you are going to get. They could end up paying you no attention whatsoever after they have taken your money.
Be clear to have the level of consultancy and how it will work included in the contract so that you can hold them to account if they renege on this agreement.
The Most Important Questions to Ask a Consultant Concern Their Experience
If you are considering hiring a consultant then the most important questions to ask a consultant are about the experience they have. You do not want to hire someone who is inexperienced in terms of the work that you do.
At the same time, it’s important to have some goals before you begin your search for a consulting partner. You need to know whether you are looking for someone who will be a full-time consultant, who will sit in your company or someone who will just give you a one-off written report.
You also need to decide whether you are just looking for financial advice, advice to make your business work more productively as a whole or advice about a specific aspect of your business.
If you are interested in reading more about the most important questions to ask a consultant or questions to ask in a consulting interview be sure to check out the rest of our site.