What's your take on this?

12 replies
Noob Question coming up...

I've been doing quite a bit of consulting recently for some businesses and something happened recently that really made me think.

You see, I was under the impression that if you're doing consulting you should be doing everything you can to make that business profitable even if it means not pleasing your clients. I mean you're not there to blow smoke up their a** but rather tell them upfront on what will work and what won't.

But there's this client of mine who wants me to make his idea work when I know for a fact that it won't. It may, but we'll be settling for chump change compared to what he'll get if he followed my instructions.

So my question is, since technically they are the ones paying me, should I follow what they want or should I do what will bring them the most profit even if it's not what they want?

I mean I want results as much as having good relationship with my clients.

I would appreciate thoughts of those already doing consulting (part time or full time).
  • Profile picture of the author Brent Stangel
    should I follow what they want
    Will it reflect on you?

    If people want to throw their money away is it your job to babysit?

    It depends on the particular situation.
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    • Profile picture of the author John Pagulayan
      Originally Posted by Brent Stangel View Post

      Will it reflect on you?

      If people want to throw their money away is it your job to babysit?

      It depends on the particular situation.
      Honestly I don't know.

      If I follow what they want, will it bring more future clients? Will it make them spend more money with me (because of the experience and not for profit)?

      Because in the end what I'm aiming for is more clients (don't we all?) either that or loyal clients that would spend with me again and again.

      So probably what I'm really asking is, from your experience...what approach brings you more success?
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      • Profile picture of the author MikeMiller
        Just in another thread we were talking about bad clients and firing them.

        I'm actually writing a WSO about building a successful consulting business, and dealing with clients in the right way is certainly one of the topics.

        Your goal should always be to drive results for your clients. If they want you to do something that you know will achieve the opposite, than you have to be able to explain them and make them accept that they have to drop it.

        On the long run you don't just want clients, you want happy clients. They will be your biggest, most important asset, because they will bring you new business and refer new clients.
        They pay you (at least most of them) to make them profit, not to do exactly what they say (they have employees to do that). If you do something that you know will be counterproductive, on the long rung they won't remember that they insisted you do it, they will just remember that you did it.

        You are a consultant, so act like one and tell them, convince tham that they shouldn't do it and explain why.

        Originally Posted by John Pagulayan View Post

        Honestly I don't know.

        If I follow what they want, will it bring more future clients? Will it make them spend more money with me (because of the experience and not for profit)?

        Because in the end what I'm aiming for is more clients (don't we all?) either that or loyal clients that would spend with me again and again.

        So probably what I'm really asking is, from your experience...what approach brings you more success?
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  • Profile picture of the author brentb
    Tell them in writing:

    abc has x risk and only y reward. You strongly suggest against it. Instead you recommend 123 because you have seen 123 work in other companies and provide 10y reward.

    You are the consultant and you sincerely hope company A trusts your judgement, but if they choose not to, you will do your best to make abc work.
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    • Profile picture of the author John Pagulayan
      Originally Posted by brentb View Post

      Tell them in writing:

      abc has x risk and only y reward. You strongly suggest against it. Instead you recommend 123 because you have seen 123 work in other companies and provide 10y reward.

      You are the consultant and you sincerely hope company A trusts your judgement, but if they choose not to, you will do your best to make abc work.
      Thanks for the sound advice.

      I guess the only thing stopping me on following what they want is the fact that I might fail to deliver if I followed 'abc' and they might think I'm no good as a consultant.
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      • Profile picture of the author brentb
        Originally Posted by John Pagulayan View Post

        Thanks for the sound advice.

        I guess the only thing stopping me on following what they want is the fact that I might fail to deliver if I followed 'abc' and they might think I'm no good as a consultant.
        If you fail at abc then you can go back to your written notice and say see I said 123.

        I recently had to do this but the line about trusting you to do what they hired you for made him change his mind for me I think because he basically called me and said that he trusted me to do what I thought was right after that.
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      • Profile picture of the author befree22
        Originally Posted by John Pagulayan View Post

        Thanks for the sound advice.

        I guess the only thing stopping me on following what they want is the fact that I might fail to deliver if I followed 'abc' and they might think I'm no good as a consultant.
        Did you put it in writing that you're a consultant who has the BEST interest for your clients and that if they choose not to follow your recommendations then you will pass on their ill-fated/doomed ideas. In this way, you show that that your reputation and your time is more important to you than their money. It may get them thinking twice.
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        • Profile picture of the author John Pagulayan
          Originally Posted by befree22 View Post

          Did you put it in writing that you're a consultant who has the BEST interest for your clients and that if they choose not to follow your recommendations then you will pass on their ill-fated/doomed ideas. In this way, you show that that your reputation and your time is more important to you than their money. It may get them thinking twice.
          That's where all this problem started...by not setting the proper expectations.

          Totally my fault.

          Lesson learned.
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
    John,
    So my question is, since technically they are the ones paying me, should I follow what they want or should I do what will bring them the most profit even if it's not what they want?
    I suggest you ask the client that exact question.

    Perhaps phrase it just slightly differently. "[Name], you're paying me for my help. Would you like me to do what you ask, or what I believe will make you the most money?"

    Then take him at his word.


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    • Profile picture of the author John Pagulayan
      Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

      John,I suggest you ask the client that exact question.

      Perhaps phrase it just slightly differently. "[Name], you're paying me for my help. Would you like me to do what you ask, or what I believe will make you the most money?"

      Then take him at his word.


      Paul
      You made it sound oh too simple but true...Throughout this thread it has been made clear to me that it's my own inhibitions and inexperience limiting me at this point. Thanks!
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  • Profile picture of the author Tsnyder
    This is the best advice... and also the hardest thing to do.

    Either be content with doing what they ask... and get paid... or
    walk away if they won't be persuaded to do it another way.

    I've told more than one potential client that I couldn't take their money
    in good conscience for a project I believe has little chance for success.
    I wished them well and moved on.

    That's really all there is to it. You've stated your case... now you need
    to either do it their way and take the money or move on.
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    If you knew what I know you'd be doing what I do...
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonathan 2.0
    Originally Posted by John Pagulayan View Post

    But there's this client of mine who wants me to make his idea work when I know for a fact that it won't. It may, but we'll be settling for chump change compared to what he'll get if he followed my instructions.
    Be 100% upfront and honest. Tell them that it won't work (or it won't be profitable enough).
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    "Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity."―Joseph Sugarman
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