Part Two: How Do You Choose a Consultant?

 In Smith & Dale Blog


Part Two: How Do You Choose a Consultant? 

Last week we discussed – deep breath – actually paying a consultant. And congratulations again on that decision! This week we want to discuss your relationship with your consultant, and how to find your best match.

And spoiler alert – consultants are not hired to be your professional punching bags! We say that tongue-in-cheek, but can be a few who believe that a consultative relationship should be wrought with pain and consternation. If you are part of that tribe, please don’t hire us. J

We believe your relationship with a consultant should be like a professional ‘soulmate’. Yes, we said it, and we are NOT ‘warm and fuzzy’ types. Truly, it should be an open, courteous, trusting relationship. To be most effective, we need to know all your successes, and your challenges. And your disclosures should be accepted in a nonjudgmental manner, and held confidential, by your consultant.

We had a client say, “I don’t need to hire someone to make me feel stupid — I need a partner and a champion to help me get this done.” And we couldn’t agree more!

Some basic advice for finding the perfect match:

  • The CEO/Executive Director and selected board members should form an ad hoc committee for the search.
  • Create a project scope of work. Make sure you include agreed upon:
    1. Mission
    2. Project description
    3. Objectives for project
    4. Fundraising Goal
    5. Timeline
    6. Leadership Team
    7. Contact Person for questions (This is so important: you will get better proposals, saving your committee time in the selection process, if applicants can ask clarifying questions before they submit. It also creates up a mini-phone screening, and the message that you support a peer working relationship.)
  • Select two or three consulting firms to submit a proposal, and provide them the project scope of work (see #2). (Even if you think you know who you want to work with, this will provide you, a) peace of mind that you looked at options and selected the right group, b) the due diligence typically required in by-laws.)
  • Create interview questions.
  • Schedule presentations by the two or three firms.
  • Be ready to make a selection while the iron is hot. You’ve built momentum through this process – make the decision and move forward!

We’ll let you in on a secret… we consulting firms spend a lot of time on proposals, and again, the more information you provide us, the better our proposals will be. For some reason, we find many organizations hold details close to the vest, which can slow down, and actually harm, the process. Honestly, we can give you a much more comprehensive and detailed proposal, when we know the ‘Who, What, When, Where and How’.

Be transparent and the proposals you receive will be much more comprehensive, customized and pertinent.

Next week we will discuss Hiring the Consultant in the final installment of our 3 Part How to Choose a Consultant.

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