What do companies look for from consultants?

New figures from the Chartered Management Institute show that nearly 300,000 managers – almost one in ten – walked away from their jobs in the 12 months to September 2011.

The record figure, reported in the National Management Salary Survey 2012, was more than twice as many as the year before.

That level of departure is indicative of a disillusioned workforce, and a challenging workplace.

At first sight, it seems depressing. But with a coaching hat on, there is a positive spin to be put on this. A significantly high percentage of those leaving will be looking for a career change, and an opportunity to venture out on their own.

Coaching or consultancy could be the solution. And with so many managers having either resigned or left for other reasons (overall labour turnover for management roles was 20 per cent), the role of coaches and consultants in filling that experience gap comes into even greater focus. Companies will be prepared to spend tactically on items of strategic value.

The question is, what should they be looking for and can these former managers fill the gap?

Add value

Companies will want a consultant to improve their competitive position and their performance in the marketplace. They should be looking for a specialist to provide something that they do not have internally – either because of a pared down workforce or lack of expertise.

The consultant must be able to diagnose what those needs are, and be able to adapt to fit the situation. Most former managers will have the expertise required, after years of specialisation in one area. The only learning curve lies in converting that expertise into a proposition that works for companies.

There are nearly 20,000 consultants in the UK, in areas as diverse as IT, change management, sales and marketing. To stand out, a consultant must be adding value.

They may have marketing expertise having been a marketing manager, but if they also have a sales background which they can draw on for the client’s benefit, so much the better.

At the winning formula, we offer business toolkits, research information, and supplementary material at no extra charge to our clients. Each piece of documentation is added value and appreciated.


If a company is to spend money on external support and advice, it should be asking for guarantees that the coach or consultant will deliver. A strong track record and/or testimonials are essential.

For those just starting out, it will be crucial to be able to demonstrate having delivered performance in a tangible, financial way, in former employment.

Companies may also want to see membership of a trade association or body. This is worth considering for those starting out. Every sector, whether it’s HR, marketing or finance, has a body that can offer advice and help, particularly on matters such as competencies and professional standards. This support network is worth tapping into, particularly given the added advantage of increasing credibility.

Consultants have not always had the best of reputations. It used to be said that they would tell you the time and then take your watch. Consequently there remains a certain amount of wariness. For the relationship to work, a consultant must be someone with whom a company can build a rapport, someone who will challenge and coach them, rather than tell them the things they want to hear. Straight talking is far more likely to lead to a trusting, mutually beneficial relationship.

Above all, perform

Despite the fact that wariness of consultants still exists, intelligent companies know that in times of change and development, they are needed to kick-start journeys, challenge the established order, and get people thinking in a completely different way. But the bottom line is that companies need consultants as long as they can deliver on performance.

And that is the recurring theme, the constant that runs throughout the world of consulting. Whether your expertise is in marketing or change management, you are first and foremost a performance consultant.  Focus on that, and companies will soon find what they are looking for.


The consultancy and coaching market has doubled in size in the last ten years and is expected to continue to increase in the future. This presents an enormous opportunity for managers or business leaders who wish to pass on their experience, knowledge and skills to others. A strong work ethic, high professional standards and qualities such as integrity will guarantee you success.

If you would like to have a chat about the transition from the employed to the self employed why not drop me a line. I would be delighted to hear from you.

Best wishes on your business growth journey, wherever it may take you.

John Stein – Founder of the winning formula.



Tags: , , ,

This entry was posted on Friday, June 22nd, 2012 at 9:14 am and is filed under Consulting Franchise, The Role of the Consultant/Coach. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply