HYCS #42 – Can You Measure Consulting Success?

HYCS #42 – Can you measure consulting success?

Before you can measure consulting success, you have to ask yourself how much consulting you’ve been doing.

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Reading Time:  2.6 minutes

Assignment Time:  No assignment this week.

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That means we’ve got to revisit the differences between Selling, Teaching, Coaching and Consulting.  There is often confusion about how these roles differ from each other and whether a consultant can play more than one of them.

I think of it like this:  I sell my services, and I teach and coach in my role as a consultant.  These are all possible activities for a consultant, but they happen within role as a consultant.  I don’t suddenly become a salesperson or a teacher or coach.  That would be confusing.

Because I am a consulting role, I first listen carefully to what my clients say they want and ask questions that help them get clearer about what’s going on for them, what they want, and what they can handle.  Then I engage them in figuring out what the best approach is.  If that isn’t working with me, I make a referral.  My goal is to be kind, truthful and helpful, not to make a sale, show off, or to set someone straight.  On the way to being helpful, kind and truthful, I might teach, sell or coach.  Or, I might simply refer.

When you get to the Assessing and Closing stage of an engagement, it’s important to look back at the role you’ve been in and the goals you set out to accomplish before you begin to assess.  Here’s a rundown:


I think the key difference between being a salesman and a consultant is the commitment my client and I have made to change.  If I am more focused on selling you a product, I’m more likely to throw it over the wall and run.  Perhaps I will have a customer support center to help you learn to use it, and my commitment to you will extend for up to three years or as long as you own my product.  That’s the case with the MacBook Air I’m using right now.  The customer service Apple provides is focused on getting me to understand the way their product works so I can get it to do all they’d envisioned for it.  The geniuses at the Apple store believe in the genius of their products and want me to buy the next version.  How I plan to use their product is beyond their scope.

 A salesman sells me a fish.


If I want to learn how to use my mac book to make a video, that training is available.  If I go to a video class, a teacher will teach me the “best” workflow for making a video on that machine.  Workflow – doing the steps in the right order – is the way to use technology efficiently, the way the engineers designed it.  I am on my own to make the prescribed workflow fit with my creative process and needs.  The focus of most teaching is passing on knowledge in its pure form.  It’s up to me to apply it to my situation. 

A teacher teaches the principles and methods of getting my own fish.


If I need to vary the standard video workflow, I can always hire a coach.  Unlike the sales person who is always selling me on the genius of the product, or the teacher who is suggesting, however subtly, that the problem is with my skills rather than the workflow or the product, the coach comes in primarily interested in me.  My goals and needs and beautiful peculiarities are what a coach uses to help me tailor the standard approach to making videos.  Nothing beats coaching for applied learning. 

A coach helps me hone my ability to get my own fish.


A consultant comes in and asks questions about why I want to use video in the first place, how it fits into my business plan, how I will measure success, and what my level of interest in the nitty-gritty of video production is.  A consultant will ask me if making my own videos is the best use of my time, and be open to my answer.  A consultant puts my needs and agenda ahead of theirs.  A consultant will help me see my situation differently in a way that changes me, and the way I approach my business. Consultants work in partnership to show people how to work better for the long-term, according to the clients needs, wishes and capacity.

Consultants help their clients anticipate their ongoing need for nutrition so they can keep a variety of food on hand.

To my mind, this is the divide between consulting and sales:  Sales people do not attempt to help the people and organizations to which they sell products or services change for the better.  As a consultant, change is my product, and transformation is my service. It’s a product that can’t be sold, it has to be joined.  That makes all the difference That makes all the difference in what you assess as you close an engagement.