Say you've recognized a pressing corporate problem in dire need of a solution.
First and foremost, you need to conduct a thorough analysis of the issue.
- what’s not working
- why it’s not
- and what you want to change.
As you may quickly realize, this is not an easy job. Stakeholders with a vested interest in the status quo may not recognize the problem or opportunity you see and may actively resist change. Additionally, subordinates you task with proposing solutions may be unwilling or unable to handle the challenge.
Intuition, experience, or maybe a little bit of desperation might tell you that the right next step is to find some outside help.
But in order to choose the right consultant, you need to become a better buyer.
This advice may surprise you. But think about it.
If you’re in the market for an effective consultant, you’re going to have to choose among competitors applying for the job, so you'll need a well-developed criteria or scorecard for vetting candidates.
Isn’t that what buying is all about?
How to Become a Better Buyer
An accomplished buyer of products and services makes a concerted effort to define and communicate what he or she wants to accomplish.
A buyer who doesn’t clarify what he or she wants makes finding a workable solution impossible.
But, an effective buyer recognizes that a consultative salesperson’s job is to help surface unarticulated problems or challenges. They willingly provide that salesperson with all relevant information, participate in an on ongoing dialogue throughout the sales process, and care about relationship workability.
A better buyer is actively engaged and asks questions.
Asking questions is an effective way to discover the kinds of problems a seller has solved for former clients.
It helps determine the extent of the seller’s knowledge of his or her company or the industry of which they're a part.
Similarly, a better buyer recognizes the seller is a resource and ultimately a partner in pursuit of an agreed-upon solution.
A great buyer never makes price the primary consideration.
Of course cost is always a factor. But, emphasizing it too soon could mean settling for something less than the best solution.
The requirements for buyer and seller behavior are identical:
- You must stay engaged
- Honor your agreements and explain when you can’t
- Communicate openly and often, providing timely feedback and candid explanations
- Provide essential information
- Make clear, specific requests
Both parties must fulfill their end of the bargain in order to develop a successful solution.
So by becoming a better buyer, you'll likely be able to find the right consultant.
Pressing problems may seem hard to fix, but by encouraging innovation and attracting the right outside help, you'll soon recognize that a potential solution is just within your grasp.