Working With a Consultant in 10 Questions
Getting the maximum benefits from a cooperation with a direct selling consultant is not an unrealistic expectation. And there are many companies that have achieved this and have been very happy with the results. However, this requires taking the right steps in looking for, contracting and working with a direct selling consultant.
This week we will cover this.
1. How do I understand if I need a direct selling consultant?
If any of these define your situation, then, you need a consultant:
* You are willing to start a new direct selling business but are not sure you are 100% good at all aspects of the operation.
* You have plans to expand into a new country without a strong team at the HQ to manage an international expansion.
* You are not happy with some parts of your operation such as the compensation plan or certain processes.
* You need help for a determined period of time (e.g. constructing a campaign aiming to increase recruits, retention or average order size).
* You want a fresh, objective eye to see and show you the “real” picture (e.g. monitoring the quality of services rendered, seeking areas of improvement).
* You need someone to support your staff in running a project especially if they are overwhelmed with daily routines.
2. What can a consultant provide me?
* External and objective advice
* Expertise in consultant’s area of specialization
* Knowledge of both the best and not-so-good-practices
* Access to his/her network in the industry
3. What makes a good consultant?
There are six common characteristics of successful consultants:
* Staying updated on the latest trends and developments
* Looking into the operation from outside
* Seeing the real picture
* Standing firm behind the solution s/he thinks is the best
* Being kind and approachable
* Sharing of knowledge generously
4. Where do I find a consultant experienced in direct selling?
Your personal network is a good start. Word of mouth is a strong ally here. Ask those you know who utilized consulting services and those who you think might know the best consultants through their connections.
Secondly, the Internet provides an invaluable platform to make that search in today’s world. Using the correct keywords, you can easily find your candidate consultants. LinkedIn is a great source, for instance.
In those countries (more than 60, now) where there are local direct selling associations, you can also ask their help. Some of these associations have a “supplier member” category. Browsing the association’s page, you can find good consultants.
5. How should I start working?
The first step is defining your project well. This is crucial for both choosing the right consultant for that task and also for avoiding any misunderstandings with the consultant later on.
6. What are the next usual steps?
* Identify Project Sponsor and Project Leader: The sponsor is the owner of the project within the company, a person with an authority to make things happen. Somebody from the company should also be selected as the project’s leader to act as the link between the consultant and the organization.
* Make a Contract: The following step is to make a formal contract with the consultant specifying all terms and expectations very clearly.
7. Can I just delegate the task to the consultant and leave?
Never! It is important to know that hiring a consultant means initiating a process of consultation. The business owner’s job is not finished with the consultant’s coming in. So s/he cannot just walk away when a consultant walks in.
8. As we are already paying a fee, would it be wise to ask for advisory in other areas?
You should remember that your fee is for those tasks specified on the contract. If you think the consultant can be of help in some other areas, you can always ask if s/he would be interested and the cost of it.
9. How do I understand if the consultant I hired is not the right one?
Unfortunately, this is a costly situation, but can happen. The reason can be the consultant or the client or sometimes both. You are the one who is expecting some concrete inputs from the consultant. If you see these are not happening, then the relation may well be a wrong one.10.
10. What should I do if I am convinced that I made a wrong choice?
After reviewing the situation with the consultant if you are convinced this would not work, the best would be to end this professional relation. And this should happen as soon as possible with the least harm possible to both sides.