In the course of your career, many of your consulting clients will hire you to make recommendations to solve specific business problems. It’s probable that you’ll be less frequently engaged through to implementation. With that in mind, the success enjoyed by clients after implementing your recommendations will be critical for your credibility and professional reputation.
This is all well and good of course; provided your consulting clients do go on to implement your recommendations.
There is immense value therefore, in taking any steps you can to increase the likelihood of implementation—assuming your recommendations have at least a reasonable chance of delivering benefits for the client.
How to Get from Recommendation to Implementation
The following three tips will help you make sure your consulting clients implement your recommendations, so you can confidently quote successful results in your marketing campaigns and hopefully, secure some valuable referrals as well.
1. Make Sure Consensus is Achieved
When you present final recommendations to your consulting clients, request that all key stakeholders and decision-makers are present and will be asked to comment on your recommendations. At the meeting or presentation, ensure that everyone responds to each recommendation and that a consensus is reached on adoption.
If any of the attendees seem opposed to one of your recommendations, address their issues and ask for help from the consulting client sponsor to mediate the issue. Don’t give up until all attendees reach a consensus about implementing the recommendation, even if you have to accept that the solution will differ some from what you initially proposed.
Of course, if a recommendation is rejected out of hand, there is little point in pressing the matter. Open rejection is in many ways better than a lukewarm reception to recommendations, which can easily result in a failure to implement.
At least rejection is something you can respond to, by working on alternative recommendations. If you leave dissention unaddressed, however, a later decision not to implement is completely out of your hands.
2. Develop a Responsibility Flow Before You Go
A responsibility flow is another way to encourage consulting clients to implement your recommendations. This is a task you should push to include in your agreed scope of work. It involves collaboration with the client to define a sequence of tasks, responsibilities, and accountabilities for the development, management, and implementation of your recommendations.
When your consulting client works with you to create such a flow, a deeper commitment is created towards implementation—one which will hopefully linger after you have moved on to your next consulting engagement.
3. Sell the Benefits of Continued Engagement
Of course, you should always try to include implementation in your initial contract, but if it wasn’t included, now is the time to suggest extending the engagement all the way to implementation. Having worked with you up to the point of recommendation, your consulting client may well see the benefits of extension. In case she doesn’t though, you should be ready to explain them.
If you are retained, you will be able to ensure that your recommendations are implemented. Moreover, the extension will allow your consultant/client relationship to strengthen, potentially opening doors for future work with the same client.
You Won’t Win Them All
As control of a solution begins to transition from you to your consulting client, it can be difficult to ensure your recommendations are implemented, although it should rarely make sense for them to be ignored. However, if you manage to achieve consensus and develop a responsibility flow, the chances are good that your recommendations will stick.
If you are kept on to the point of implementation, you can give yourself a huge slap on the back. On the other hand, don’t be too dejected if you aren’t, or if your recommendations end up on the shelf. Take consolation from the fact that you did your best and that you earned the fees you received … that’s life in the wonderful world of independent consulting.
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