What would you do if a client told you that you needed sales training?
For Bill Casey, management consultant and president of Executive Leadership Group, Inc., hearing that as a newbie consultant served as a wake-up call.
“I was first starting out and meeting with the head of one of the largest privately owned trucking companies in the U.S.,” he remembers. “I was in the middle of a sentence and he interrupted me and said ‘you need sales training’. I was trying to convince him that he needed me and why he needed me, but really I was all bogged down in complex data. A lightbulb went on.”
Bill realized he needed an attitude adjustment.
It’s a common stumbling block for consultants. You hear a client’s issue or concern – and you immediately think “I’ve got the solution.” But by jumping ahead, you’re not getting to the essence of the problem.
For Bill, it was a matter of shifting his focus from complicated methodologies to reducing ambiguity and making things simpler for his clients. In other words, helping them gain a clear understanding of what they were trying to achieve and why.
He likens it to a doctor patient relationship. A doctor would never write you a prescription without asking you what’s going on first. Likewise, you shouldn’t offer up a solution when a client comes to you with a perceived problem…because what they think is the problem might not really be the problem at all.
Nowadays, when starting an engagement, the first question Bill and his team always ask is: “what’s the point?,” or “what are you really trying to achieve here?” followed by “why is that important?”
“These are simple questions and will have simple answers, but the path from question to answer is never easy,” he says. “Once we help them find the answers and articulate the meaningful goals, then we can work with them to align their organization to those goals.”