Ability to Strike a Rapport with the Customer
The most important trait a consultant must have is the ability to strike a rapport. Client engagement involves an interaction between two teams who are mature, professional, and accomplished.
The basic premise of this interaction is that each individual is different. Everybody comes with an ego. They have past credibility, track record, self-respect and self-confidence. Hence, the Consultant’s role is very challenging. He is required to establish an engagement model or a relationship wherein, he is looked at as an expert and the customer takes his suggestions and guidelines, seriously.
There is no substitute for the genuine knowledge in respective area of IT service is being provided. Clients typically approach an external consultant for two reasons: 1) the client expects the consultant to have more expertise than the organization’s internal resources or 2) because clients do not have sufficient time to solve their own problems or implement their own projects. As consultants, the level of knowledge should be broad enough to know when to ask questions and/or where to research to find solutions.
Projecting an Image That Matches with the Company’s Image
Depending on the level of seniority, the consulting role may involve business development as well as some pre-sales activities. In this case, the consultant ends up interacting with very senior people in the industry, the decision makers, owners, or the promoters of different businesses to whom his organization is offering consulting. The consultant must know how to represent his organization at the highest level. He should project an image that matches with the company’s image.
Building Customer Trust
The consultant needs to create a winning impression through his personality, behavior so that the customers start believing in him and start trusting him. So building customer trust is another extremely important parameter. His personality plays a big role in creating the first impression in the mind of the customer and building mutual trust and confidence.
The consulting engagement or assignment may not be too long. So in a very short span of time, in the early few communications itself the consultant has to create the first impression in such a way that the customer starts believing in him as an expert. This builds trust and the customer understands the consultant’s way of working, his discipline, professionalism, and then automatically starts cooperating with him towards the change.
Consultants must demonstrate that they are team players and are willing to learn from team members, genuinely valuing the input and expertise of others. It is important to establish a collaborative relationship with peers.