Consultant, Prosultant or Insultant, Part 2
That said, here are some more tips for you to consider:
1. If a consultant is too agreeable, he or she may be in it only for the money. Find a consultant who disagrees with you a lot. Most of the time, consultants are brought in to fix problems that exist within an organization that can't be fixed internally. It's a pair of fresh eyes to look things over. Consultants are like plumbers — the good ones are trained to instantly spot where the “clogs in the pipes are,” and then to fix it efficiently. You wouldn’t tell a plumber how to unclog your pipes, would you? You have to assume that you're going to hear a lot of things you don’t want to hear and/or disagree with. Otherwise, why would you need a consultant to begin with?
2. Find a consultant who's willing to walk away if you don’t listen. Here's a true story: I worked with a catalog company whose general manager refused to understand the way catalog marketing worked. This employee came from retail and insisted on running the company like a brand. He pumped a lot of money into the catalog, doubled the unit cost in the mail and then when his mailings weren’t profitable, tried to repeat the same mistake in his heaviest selling season. After repeatedly explaining the reasons for what happened, I finally gave up and said the following:
“Mr. X, what’s your favorite sport?”
“Because you're running your business like you’re on a football field, playing with a hockey stick and puck! And if you keep doing it your way, you’re going to be out of business in six months.”
At that point, the client turned red, and steam started to come out of his ears. Within the next few weeks we mutually terminated my consulting contract. The kicker: Less than nine months later the business went belly-up.