As a professional marketer since 1995 I’ve worked with many business leaders. Some had been through the process of bringing in a marketing consultant while others had no idea where to start. If you hire a sales and marketing consultant you want to make sure you hire the right person. Set up a successful relationship from the start to make sure you get the most for your investment. This information will help you do that.
Are they are legitimate consultant?
Don’t make the mistake of hiring someone who has decided that they’re a consultant when in reality they’re between jobs. You run the risk that they may walk out on you mid project if they get an offer of full time employment.
Can they provide references?
If they’re a good consultant that has generated results then their clients will have no problem telling you about it. Unless, of course the consultant has worked largely in confidence and both parties are precluded from discussing it due to a non-disclosure agreement.
Have they provided examples of their work?
Don’t simply take someone’s word for it if they tell you they have done certain types of work. Ask them to show you samples of marketing strategies and plans, sales tools and presentations that they’ve delivered for clients.
Are they willing to structure a deal in a way that works for you?
Consultant work is generally done either on a project basis or daily basis. Project based fees can work well for you as long as the project is straightforward. The objectives and milestones should be clearly defined and the project should not change substantially once things are underway. Daily fees are good if the consultant gives you a weekly/monthly status report to account for their time and what they worked on.
Have they written a proposal with deliverables, milestones and payment terms?
A good consultant will provide you with a proposal that outlines the work, milestones and payment terms. Sometimes, in order to get a project moving quickly it isn’t always completely clear what the deliverables should be. If this is the case the proposal should outline the top level objectives and milestones should be agreed within the first week or so.
Does the consultant have the appropriate level of experience for the tasks you need accomplished?
Don’t hire a senior consultant if you need low level marketing work done. Similarly, be cautious of consultants who are more junior and promise the world. It’s tempting to hire someone who seems good and has a lower rate, but when they present to your Board they need to make the cut.
Does the marketing consultant offer the appropriate mix of strategy versus execution for your needs?
Some consultants are strategy only. They’ll help you figure out the big picture and provide you with a plan but refuse to get involved from that point on. Others are more hands on and have the desire to do both. The key is to make sure you don’t hire a strategist when you need execution, and vice versa.
Do you “click” and have complementary working styles?
This is undoubtedly the most important factor. If you don’t have good rapport with the consultant the project could turn out to be a disaster. For example, if they work off-site all the time and you want to bounce ideas around you’re going to have a problem.
Make sure they’re trustworthy and devoted to the highest quality outcomes. It’s important that you can speak freely and frankly. You should get things out in the open quickly and work with someone who shares your vision.