imagesNO2BBAY2I hear it all the time.  “Consultants just tell me what I already know. They repackage the stuff we give them and present it as new.”  Yes they do.  Some of them.   Every time they do, it hurts the consulting industry.  This post will help you avoid hiring the wrong sales consulting firm.

Sales Leaders are short on resources and need to accelerate growth to hit goals.  So they turn to “outsiders” for an objective expert opinion.  Sales consultants can help you get to the number faster.  They have experienced resources and proven methodologies to help you get results.  Or do they?


What if they don’t?  What if they are all show and no go?  You put your neck on the line and the project fails.  Unfortunately, it happens quite often.  You hire the wrong firm and they let you down.  When this happens, you lose credibility and probably miss the number.  Download the Consultant Success Checklist tool to ensure you hire the right firm.  This tool provides questions to ask the firm, your peers, and your team.  Using all three views will help you make the right decision.


Why Do Consulting Projects Fail?

There are different types of consulting firms.  Strategy firms and execution firms.  Many strategy firms are just that.  They will help create a solution, but you are left to execute it.  A strategy firm may be what you need if field adoption hasn’t been a problem.   If you have struggled to gain adoption, you risk solutions becoming expensive paper weights.  On the flip side, execution based firms help you adopt the solution.  They perform training and coaching.  They help you get the desired result out of the solution.  Make sure you choose the right type of firm.


A few factors determine if a project will be successful.  And the logo on their business card doesn’t always translate to success.  


5 Areas to Explore When Vetting a Sales Consulting Firm:

Will they effectively partner with your team?

Consulting projects fail when the project team does not include your team.  Your team has to contribute to, and ultimately, own the solution.  We are still in a 1 to 1 business.  Lack of team buy in will kill any project.


Are they truly adoption focused?

The old consulting method was to spend many months creating a process or plan.  Then you hand it over to the company to rollout, execute, and perfect.  Many clients failed to adopt the solution.  This model was all about building dependency on the consulting firm.  It was slow.  Unfortunately, it still exists in many firms.  Choose a firm that transfers knowledge to the client.


Is the team experienced or educated?

I was recently at a client that hired a big consulting firm.  This firm had 20+ keyboard pounder consultants all sitting in a room.  They were all acting smart.  Their average age was 24.  I am sure they had impressive degrees.  What they didn’t have was sales or marketing experience.  Yet, they were attempting to design solutions to a revenue problem.  Academic solutions have a low probability of success.


Are they experts or problem solvers?

Experts tell you what you are doing wrong.  They act smart.  Problem solvers provide a fresh perspective by helping you define the problem correctly.  Then they design the best solution with you.  Next, they teach you the solution.  Finally, they coach your team from beginners to experts.  How will they engage your team throughout the project?  Look for evidence your team will acquire the capability.  If not, you will be dependent and the solution will fail. 


When will behavior change?

How should you evaluate a statement of work?  In the past you looked at deliverables, milestones, and timelines.  You still should.  But the more important piece is when the new solution starts producing behavior change.  Results aren’t just revenue growth or profitability.  They are indicators of improvement. 


They come in 3 forms:


  1. Behavioral IndicatorsWhat_if_Your_Consulting_Firm_Fails
  2. Leading Indicators
  3. Lagging Indicators


Ensure the firm you hire provides good explanations for each area above.


Every time a sales consulting firm fails, it hurts our industry.  Another buyer thinks all consultants are the same.  A failed project could have much worse consequences for you.  Don’t let your project fail.  Realize the revenue growth your project originally promised.  Download the Consultant Success Checklist tool to avoid hiring the wrong firm. 


Consultant_Success_Checklist1To learn more about where your peers are investing, attend this sales strategy workshop.  SBI’s Annual Research Workshop, “How To Make Your Number in 2016.”




Scott Gruher

Orchestrates and designs the perfect project strategy, one engagement at a time, to ensure that every SBI client makes their number.

Scott joined SBI in 2010 with years of hands-on experience in sales leadership and enterprise selling. Since his arrival, he has helped dozens of organizations dramatically accelerate growth, from Fortune 10 organizations like Phillips 66 to fast-growing cloud service organizations like InfusionSoft. Scott specializes in cross-functional alignment. He helps leaders align around the growth goal and design the right processes to bring the strategy to life. His unique combination of real world experience and a pragmatic approach to problem solving have made him one of SBI’s most demanded resources.

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