The consulting world can be very challenging. In spite of this, there is tremendous career potential with rewards very early in your professional life for those who accept the challenge.
Accessing this sector is not easy. You need a good academic profile with excellent grades, a strong curriculum, and practical experience that reflect that you have worked professionally. Also, to be successful, you need to hone your skills and “be hungry.” Learn from other people’s mistakes and enrich yourself from multiple sources of inspiration.
What is the profile of a consultant?
A consultant is a specialist who offers professional advice and advises companies in a certain area, so their specialization is usually high. It is a generally well-paid but demanding profession. The criteria for becoming a consultant is very high, both in terms of skills, knowledge, and training, as well as personal skills, relationships, and communication with others.
Before starting to take note of the steps to follow to become a successful consultant, you should know how to identify that we have, on the one hand, different types of consultants and, on the other, different types of professions:
- Types of consultants: Business, marketing, financial sales, human resources, personal image, nutritionist, shopping, sports, and other specialties in this line.
- Types of professions: Freelance/entrepreneur/entrepreneur, graphic designer, programmer, coach, copywriter, a specialist in funnels and automation, lead generator, media buyer, affiliate manager, launch manager, evergreen manager, content creator, video editor.
Whatever your profession, and the type of consulting business you want to undertake based on your skills and knowledge, you should know that there are three basic reasons why a client would hire you:
- How quickly you can get results.
- The lack of knowledge or skills that your client needs.
- The validated system that you have and your client does not.
A good consultant must have some particular qualities in addition to expertise, capacity, and technical knowledge. Among the most outstanding skills for consultants, three types are the most important:
1. Human skills
2. Specific skills
3. Technical skills
1. Human skills.
- Proactivity. A lot of times in consulting, you get thrown into projects with very little information. A good consultant must establish fierce proactivity and the capability to anticipate problems, investigate, ask questions, and solve complications.
- Punctuality. As a consultant, you will work as an outsider in the company. So it is a very professional gesture to arrive first at the meetings. Moreover, it allows you to associate with people who are arriving to attend the meeting.
- Discipline. A consultant lives a very busy life with constant changes. In order to not get lost in detail, a good consultant must try maintaining military order and discipline. Especially not to get soaked up in everyday turmoil.
- Listen. Your profession’s major role in being a consultant is to listen to your clients and understand their problems and difficulties they are facing. Only when you fully understand their problems you will be able to provide long term solutions.
- Left hand. As a consultant, you have to work with people, with your colleagues, with your managers, and with your clients. And for doing so, you must know that when is the right time to talk to your client, when is not a very good time to share bad news, and when not to ask twice for the meeting that you have not been granted. As a whole, understanding people is the key.
2. Specific skills.
- Problem-solving. Consultants are known as natural problem solvers. How do I instrument the tool in my establishment? How can I expand my business with this skill? How am I going to reduce costs? Ultimately, companies and people hire consultants because of their immeasurable ability to solve problems that comes their way. Productivity is the factor playing a major role throughout the whole activity.
- Analytical. The consultant needs a massive capacity for analysis to solve problems. It is not adequate to be an intelligent person; however, we must make our conclusions evident with data and profound analysis of the problem.
- Take responsibility. In consulting, projects require people to take off quickly and be independent. Therefore, it is indispensable to be able to take accountability for your work and accomplish it with excellence so that the client commend you with new tasks.
- Flexible. The almost constant change in our clients’ world necessitates that the consultant must have great adaptability and a large waist. Adaptation when your work pattern changes, and you have to compose a presentation in 2 hours—adaptation when because of the change in focus, you have to leave that deliverable halfway. In short, a perfect adaptation to the changing environment.
- Teamwork. Teamwork is the most crucial in consulting as consulting projects are composed of people. Every team member works like an engine, is well aware of their tasks, and knows how to execute them, so the whole team is capable of working in parallel. Similarly, teams must and should help each other as the team’s success is everyone’s success. But if one person falls, the whole teal falls with him.
3. Technical skills.
- PowerPoint and Excel. Two-star tools in consulting. Besides email, you will be using excel all day, making plans, analyzing information, and making inventories to survey current situations. You will also be responsible for preparing the result analysis to present to your clients and managers.
- Programming. In today’s digital world, technical knowledge is the most obligatory. Therefore, it is necessary to have programming notions (even if you are a programming user)—some of the most common, SQL, VBA, Python, or R.
- Business. You must develop at least a minimum knowledge of your industry as per your specialty and industry. It is essential to understand what your client wants and to be able to add value to them.
Essential attitudes of a good consultant.
Becoming an excellent professional in your sector of activity is a goal that everyone can achieve. Being appreciated and recommended by its customers remain fundamental issues. To achieve this, a good consultant must adopt certain attitudes and postures in the workplace to clearly improve his performance. Here are some attitudes to study in order to gain quality.
Be methodical, precise, and complete.
An excellent consultant leaves no room for ambiguity or vagueness. It is reflected, in particular, by the maximum detail of the estimates, specifying each stage and their planned realization.
This methodology has two significant advantages:
- It is reassuring the client about the consultant’s skills.
- The lack of interpretation prevents future disputes and conflicts.
A rigorous attitude favoring clarity, and completeness helps increase customer satisfaction.
Be a caring companion.
An excellent consultant favors availability and tailor-made to meet the clients’ wishes. Also, a caring and constructive attitude tends to reassure customers.
Nevertheless, benevolent accompaniment is not simply listening. It is built by different means:
- The systematic response to all the problems encountered by the customer. It goes without saying that the answer must come with a full resolution of even the smallest problems.
- The use of pedagogical, courteous language while opting for proximity.
- A consultant can get involved in the service and submit ad hoc advice in the interest of the client.
Ultimately, a high-quality consultant fully adheres to the missions and projects he builds for clients. It is not a simple remunerated service, but support, step by step, towards a satisfactory result.
Generosity, in the professional world, results in the total or partial gratuity of an offer. Thus, we can materialize this “generous” attitude in two different ways:
- Trade discounts. Commercial gestures to important and regular customers remain perfectly relevant.
- Free use of a test version. Prospects can get a direct idea of the solution in question.
- Access to expert and specialized content. This strategy is part of the Inbound Marketing methodology almost naturally to magnetize customers.
The importance of customer donations is a reflection of the strength of a good consultant. This generosity also offers the possibility of proving the consultant’s expertise.
Be a skillful transmitter.
A consultant can design transmission actions in order to provide concrete and professional information to clients. This pedagogical attitude favors the active participation of the client. Indeed, the latter will become more involved in the service.
By having a better knowledge of the offer, the customer will more easily understand its value. A consultant will be able to justify his prices and consolidate his margin rate.
Be humble and considerate.
The best way to stay humble and observant to the economic atmosphere is to opt for benchmarking. It is a question of carefully observing the competition in order to be inspired by it and to compensate for the possible gaps.
Applying one or more of these good practices on an experimental basis is therefore strongly recommended and should allow everyone to maintain morale and continue to grow over time. This modesty must be accompanied by real legitimacy, facilitating commercial prospecting. By adopting these attitudes and skills, a consultant can then set out to conquer his market.
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