While writing this book, I thought back to the beginning of my own consulting career, and asked, “Would this knowledge have helped me then?” I also thought back to the consultants I hired at Mission Data, and how I unfortunately threw them into the lion’s den without any training. I feel comfortable saying that if I had written a training manual for them, this book would be that manual. (More on this shortly.)
I’ve found that the best consultants are people with ambition, so this book is for them. It’s written for the consultant who wants to be involved in the “big decisions,” the consultant who meets with clients to discuss their most challenging problems, the consultant who writes sales proposals and project plans, influences decision makers, and has happy, long-term customers. It’s for the person who aspires to be a partner in a consulting firm, or wants to run his own consulting business.
Almost twenty years ago I had those same aspirations, but what I didn’t have was a blueprint for how to succeed as a consultant. I had to learn from trial and error, and as the saying goes:
“Trial and error is a great teacher, but the lessons sure are painful.”
Finally, while my own background is as a computer software consultant, almost all of the lessons I share in this book apply to the consulting field in general, so they’ll be helpful to business process consultants, project managers, accountants, lawyers, and other service professionals.
The background of this book is that during my last year at Mission Data, I realized that we had different employees saying different things to our clients, in both the sales and consulting processes. While we were fairly consistent in our technical approach, our consultants would often handle “people problems” in different ways, and in some cases, they used approaches that I had tried and failed with during my lean years.
Although I didn’t want to create a company of robots who would always speak and act in exactly the same way, I wanted my employees to understand my philosophies on how to work with people and succeed as a consultant, so I put together a presentation to discuss the best approaches to consulting. That presentation eventually became the basis for this book.
So although you and I don’t have the opportunity to work together, I’m glad to say that the advice I’m sharing in this book is the same advice I would have given you had you worked for me at that time.