Building Relationships Between Consultants and Clients: A Guide for Professionals

Customers value when you have your own opinions and express them with assurance. With active customer involvement throughout the process, there will be plenty of chances to help members recognize learning needs. Frequently, a consultant can recommend or help design learning opportunities about work planning methods, work group assignments, goal-setting processes, etc. While the competent professional is concerned with executive learning throughout the hiring process, it would be wise not to mention it as an explicit objective.

Managers may not be fond of the concept of being “taught to manage.” Talking too much about customer learning may seem presumptuous and it is. Nevertheless, consultants who are adept at forming relationships between consultants and clients are the ones who reach the highest level in their career. As managers comprehend the wider range of purposes that excellent consulting can help achieve, they will select consultants more intelligently and anticipate more value from them. The increase in consensus, commitment, learning and future effectiveness are not intended as a substitute for the most common purposes of management consulting, but as desirable results of any truly effective consulting process.

This is based on my experience supervising beginning consultants and to the many conversations and partnerships I have had with consultants and clients in the United States and abroad. A strong relationship between client and consultant allows the business leader to feel comfortable calling the consultant when faced with a problem that may not be related to a current project simply because he trusts you as a partner. As CEO of Bridgepoint Consulting, Michael leads the company's growth strategy and technology consulting initiatives, which help organizations harness technology to drive large scale business transformations. This is the first part of a series aimed at sharing some of the best practices for consulting and customer interactions, particularly aimed at those who are starting their career as consultants.

The idea that success in consulting depends solely on analytical experience and the ability to present convincing reports is becoming obsolete, partly because there are now more people in organizations with the necessary analytical techniques than in the boom years of “strategic consulting”. While this can be a little irritating in everyday life, it can have serious financial and professional consequences when it comes to your business consulting work. Sandy Spadaro, consultant and author of human resources and communications, argues that when communication fails, consultants should take five minutes and go back to seek clarification, calmness and coherence. These purposes have received more attention in the literature on organizational development and in the writings of behavioral consultants than in the field of management consulting.

On the other hand, a consultant who too quickly rejects this way of describing the problem will end a potentially useful consulting process before it begins. Building relationships between consultants and clients is an art form that requires practice and dedication. It is essential for professionals to understand how to create trust between themselves and their customers so that they can provide better services. To do this effectively, consultants must be able to communicate effectively with their clients, understand their needs, provide solutions that meet those needs, and build long-term relationships that benefit both parties.

By following these steps, consultants can ensure that they are providing their clients with quality services that will help them reach their goals.