Rules to Hiring Your Next Consultant (Part 3)

This is the last part of the series.  It is amazing how many people we can find to help us when we know exactly what we are trying to achieve and how our organization is likely to react to the changes.  Now that you’ve winnowed the list of potential consultants, it is time to find who will work best for, and with, us.

Rule #5 – Polish Your Negotiations

Keep in mind is that you are not looking for the lowest-cost consultant. You’re looking for the most cost-effective results.

Define clear performance expectations. They will help you and your consultant to succeed.

Can you finance the consultant from the cost savings you expect to see? Is this realistic?

Can you pay in stages, when you pass various (well-defined) milestones? What happens if you set a maximum payment for the project, and the work is incomplete? What happens if you pay by the hour, and the hours add up faster than results? Can you build in incentives for completing work ahead of schedule or under budget?

Look for any of these warning flags:

  • Incentives to not finish on time / budget.
  • Incentives that might bloat project hours or cost.
  • Milestones structured more for the consultant than for you.
  • Time frames that seem unreasonably long or short. There should be a logical explanation for the timing of your project.

Sometimes it is helpful to play dumb or naïve. If you suggest something contrary to the above rules or warning flags, what happens? Do you get good advice, or do you get taken? If you get the feeling that a shark has just smelled blood, perhaps this isn’t the best consultant for your organization. On the other hand, if the consultant courteously points out the danger of your suggestion, and offers a sounder approach, perhaps they will be as diligent when you hire him.

Rule #6 – Go With Your Gut

You’ve done a lot to get here: defined the problem; ensured that your organization is ready for the change; researched possible consultants; and sifted through to find the most appropriate ones for this job.  Following these rules will gain you a lot of information. Take your time, absorb the information and pay attention to what your gut is telling you about a particular consultant.

Remember, your brain does an incredible job of analyzing subtle, even subconscious cues. Your gut feeling comes from your brain’s analysis. Trust it. 

Now, stand tall and make your decision.