7 Signs it’s Time to Hire a Consultant

The year is almost over- are you on track to hit your annual goals?

I’m not just referring to your sales goals (although those are critical), I also mean goals of the mission and vision of your company, employee satisfaction and engagement, awareness, and everything else that indicates a strong and successful business. If you’re not quite on target, it’s time to make a change. Bringing in an outside consultant may be the breath of fresh air (and new set of eyes) your business needs to finish this year strong and start next year off with a bang. Even the largest, most successful companies turn to consultants; maybe it’s time you consider it too!

Here are seven signs it’s time to hire a consultant:

1. You feel stuck or stagnant.
Simply put: If you feel like your business is in a rut, it probably is. If you’re not growing, you’re dying, and now’s the time to take matters into your own hands. Hiring a consultant can help address these concerns and get you back on track for growth.

2. You need help identifying problems, issues, or areas for improvement.
It’s a hard truth that people “on the inside” often don’t see things as clearly as those “on the outside”. Sometimes executives and business leaders may be blind to areas within their organizations that aren’t functioning optimally, or opportunities to enhance their business both externally and internally. Consultants bring the fresh, objective perspective that can open up new ideas and avenues that weren’t identified previously, and enhance a business.

3. You’re unsure of which direction to go.
Even if you have identified areas for growth, it may be tricky to decide on how to move forward. Consultants can help strategize as well as implement new plans, programs, and procedures to move forward and help your business grow.

4. You want someone to supplement your staff, but don’t want to hire a full time employee.
Let’s face it- hiring a full time employee is expensive. Consultants are an efficient way to get temporary expertise and support when you need it most. By hiring a consultant, you will get a relatively low cost, low commitment solution to a project or problem you’re facing.

5. You want insight into your market.
Many business leaders think they know their customer, but their knowledge is often biased and subjective. It’s tough to remove your “business” cap when trying to understand your customers. Consultants don’t have the same biases, and are able to conduct the research necessary to provide honest insight and feedback that will help you relate to your customers and better serve them.

6. You want freshness and creativity.
Every company does things differently and has their own creative process for operations, marketing, production, etc. Because they have been around other businesses and been exposed to innovation among different industries, consultants will bring new ideas and creativity to your business that you may not have had access to previously. In an ever changing world, innovation is critical to stay afloat.

7. You want to bring new life to your organization.
Companies get stale, but consultants can bring a freshness and excitement that may have been lacking. Mixing it up and engaging new professionals with your team can liven up the work environment, spark new ideas, and create a critical collaborative environment.

If you find yourself identifying with any of these seven signs, do your business a favor and consider bringing on a consultant to help. Amazing results come from collaboration, and recognizing the need for improvement is the first step in achieving your goals.

Breanna Bremer is a professional business advisor at Innovantage Consulting who helps her clients attract, retain, and grow their customers by creating and implementing customized marketing and business development strategies. Read more posts from Breanna Bremer on her websites or her LinkedIn profile.

Selectivity and Rejection: Why Turning Down Prospects Will Save Your Business

When I was starting out in my career, I was beyond eager to close business. I found myself pounding the phones cold calling, and often ended up somewhere between arguing and pleading with prospects trying to get them to buy. Every “no” felt like a loss to me, and I would try as hard as possible to close even the smallest deal. It became a game to me, and eventually I didn’t care about the size of the deal or the customer I was closing, I just cared about my conversion ratio and how many deals I could make.

What I didn’t know is that my effort to close every deal I encountered would end up being my downfall for the next several months.

Customer service calls and cancellations started rolling in. I was spending hours per week on the phone trying to put out fires for my smallest clients, taking me away from the opportunity to close more business. Clients who were not benefitting from the service I sold to them were giving me an earful about how upset they were, and the conversation typically ended with a threat to call their credit card company to dispute their charge. I was miserable.

After this went on for a while, I realized that this was not productive for my book of business or my commission checks, and something needed to change. I figured out that my best clients, the ones who were doing great with the service, and the ones who were paying the most to be doing business with me, were the ones who were causing me absolutely no problems. Additionally, by best clients were the ones I didn’t have to push very hard to close because they understood the value of the service I was selling, and were confident in their ability to benefit from it.

I wanted more clients like that.

I decided I would begin to be selective with my clients. I would call prospects, and if I was receiving too much push back and a refusal to buy, I would just let it go. If the prospect seemed to enjoy arguing for the sake of arguing, rather than posing relevant questions about the service and how they can benefit from doing business with me, I would decide I didn’t need their business, and politely let them off the phone. I figured that if the prospect was giving me a headache during the initial sales call, they would probably be a pain throughout their lifetime as a client. After all, there were thousands of other prospects who would understand the value of what I was selling, and would be much a more pleasant client.

Moreover, I began to identify the prospects who wouldn’t benefit from using my service. I started to understand that not every prospect would be a good fit for what I was selling, and those clients would be dissatisfied with the service despite my best efforts to keep them happy. I didn’t want clients who would not benefit from their membership with our service, because they would just cancel after their term ended. It’s not to anyone’s benefit to sell to people you can’t help. Not everyone needs to become a client of mine, and not everyone should become a client. After all, the service wasn’t a “one size fits all”; some people were just a better fit, and that’s ok.

I became drawn to having clients who would see success with my product and would continue to renew and upgrade their account with me. Identifying the elements that a “good client” embodied, I was able to avoid the less than ideal clients, and keep from investing my time trying to close a deal that will just end in an unhappy client and a cancelled account. I focused my efforts trying to recruit the ideal candidate for the service I was selling, and that has made all the difference.

To me this was a selfish approach because I didn’t want to deal with customer service calls if I didn’t have to, and I didn’t want to take more cancellations, which would be a negative representation of my sales record. However, it’s also to the prospects’ best interest, because I saved them the hassle of buying, suffering through, and fighting to cancel a service that just isn’t a fit for them. It’s not easy to turn business down, but it really makes a difference for all parties involved. Additionally, it’s the ethical and moral thing to do. Be selective with your clients, don’t be afraid to turn down a deal, and strive to work with the clients who will be the best fit for your product or service.

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