My clients are amazing! Honestly, if you took a list of my best clients and matched it against the best in their field, you would see the same names over and over again.
That said, consultants wear a lot of hats. Confidante, armchair psychologist, peacemaker, etc. While working with different cultures broadens our scope of the way people do business globally, there are a few items that test anyone's patience. Here is a brief list of what makes my job challenging:
Negotiating (or trying to negotiate) rates. I understand that everyone wants to save money. However, how do you like it when you encounter a customer who tries to cheapen what you do? Let me answer the following questions for all: Yes, my prices are higher than some others, cheaper than many more… Yes, you do get what you pay for… Yes, there are people with half my experience who will deliver a quarter of the results I do for a few dollars less than I charge… The return on investment I provide is so strong, companies typically make their money back within the first week or two of using my techniques… I teach companies how to make money. That said, if what you want to do is save money – do not hire me… I charge every client the same, fair price, and I am far too busy to spend time negotiating every contract individually. Anyone who is “flexible” on their rates makes me wonder why they bother to have rates in the first place. If the client-consultant relationship is about trust, how can there be trust when we just argued over money?
Demanding instant availability. My practice and existing client obligations have me setting my schedule 6-12 months in advance. Some potential clients expect me to be available within the month! This makes sense for businesses who deal in crisis management, but as a sales trainer, planning a program in advance allows both parties to prepare for the sessions. BTW - being busy is a good sign! Typically, consultants that are always available (waiting for the phone to ring, instead of making things happen) are not examples of who you want training your team.
Demanding constant availability. As a human being, I appreciate that clients are respectful of my time and current time zone. Occasionally a client will call in the middle of the night with a question. It happens most often when I am traveling around the world and the client is not aware of where I am at the moment. Usually people kindly ask that I call them back later, but a few…just continue talking.
Changing the times of my schedule. When I am contracted on the materials I am going to cover, I send a proposed schedule for the clients to approve. Occasionally they ask to move a program to start a bit earlier or later than planned around employees’ schedules or to accommodate a business demand. That is a simple adjustment I am happy to make. The problem is when clients want to ‘cover the same material in one hour instead of four.’ Assuming the consultant is a subject matter expert and has conducted these sessions many (hundreds of) times before, why would that be possible? Again, it comes down to trust. Believing that the consultant knows the topic and the pacing of their own sessions, it is not only disrespectful to cut the program’s time down, the participants will also lose out on the experience too.
I would love to hear from other consultants out there. What challenges you?