A piece of my role at The Pedowitz Group involves training our newest Eloqua team members. Whether they come from the role of a technology or marketing practitioner or they have been consultant before we have our own methodology and approach. Part of that training is technical, part of it is in our RM6 methodology and part of it is making sure our team is staffed with the highest quality consultants we can have. Being consultative is not something everyone is born with (let’s be real, most people aren’t born with the skills they use they are taught!), so I a big part of what we teach is how to be a consultant and how to grow and develop those skills.
While you might not want to work for a consulting group there is a huge value in being consultative with your own “internal customers.” Just knowing the technology or being a great content creator isn’t enough, being able to think like a consultant will put you head and shoulders above those who can’t. Here are a few of the basic tips I give my team:
Always ask questions
Understand not just the requirements for a project but the use cases. Good example, when someone asks you to add a field to Eloqua understand what they are trying to achieve, maybe adding a field (when you have a limit of 250 custom fields) isn’t the best solution. The person asking doesn’t always have your level of expertise so you have to understand the business use/case for a situation before just jumping to take action.
Think around corners
What is the long term impact of the ask? Will there be a larger problem caused by doing something in a specific manner? Similar to “always ask questions” understanding the driver behind a request is going to help you understand whether there are unintended impacts that could stem from a particular request.
Information is good, information plus advice is better
Knowing your space is important, but being able to give well reasoned, logical explanations for why things happen is great. Being able to advise your team on an approach to a problem is better.
Document, document, document of consultant
Time to sound like a broken record but document your work! Why wouldn’t you want to document what you have done (to show the value) so that it can be tweaked and maintained properly going forward? Providing information on what exists in your instance of Eloqua (or any other tool) means you are giving your colleagues a hand when they have to understand it later.
The bottom line, consultants jobs are rarely just about what we can do in the tools we work in, they are nearly 100% about problem solving skills. My experience as a consultant is that my clients are rarely helpless in their technology or other efforts but the value we provide them is in being able to see the big picture and making sure we are untangling all the knots.