The term ‘Consultant’ gets used in many different ways in lots of different industries. The definitions for this word are varied, and there is a lot of confusion about what a consultant actually does, how they work, and what it means to have a consulting business.
Note: There are more traditional and also newer forms of consulting. The more traditional consultant might work for a Big 5 firm such as Deloitte – a huge organization with thousands of employees serving other large corporations. The newer breed of consultant is more independent, more agile, and running their own small business either on their own or with a small team. These entrepreneurs are often following the Sam Ovens consulting model in their approach to business. They can operate in almost any market and get started without working for a big company or even having a college degree. We’re focusing on this ‘new breed’ of consultant here as this is the group we’re trying to help grow their businesses through this website.
With this in mind, here is our consulting definition for this new breed of entrepreneurs:
A consultant is someone with expertise in a particular field or industry. Consultants use their skills to identify problems in their given market, and help market participants solve them via products, services, advice or coaching. The most successful consultants are essentially paid to solve the most painful problems in their industry – and they have an excellent track record of doing so for their customers and clients.
No matter what kind of consultant work you do, if you’re good then your work will fit into the definition above. As mentioned there are many ways to explain what a consultant is or what they do but it ultimately always comes back to solving the problems faced in your market. If you’re not doing that, then why would anyone hire you or pay for your advice?
So what is a consultant? A Consultant is an effective problem solver in a . specialized industry.
Now that we’ve explored the basic meaning of consulting, let’s take a look at some real world examples and see what a consultant’s job description and typical work day might look like.
What Is a Sales Consultant?
Using our consulting definition above, a sales consultant is someone who specializes in solving sales-based problems for businesses. For example, is a business is generating a lot of new leads for customers but is having trouble actually converting them it is likely they have a problem with their sales process. A sales consultant would step in, audit their process from start to finish, and offer a solution to the business owner. This solution might be delivered via in-person training with the sales team or via an online coaching program which the salespeople can use to improve their skills.
Alternatively, maybe the sales conversion for this business is good however they have problems generating enough leads to keep their sales team busy. In this case the sales consultant would focus in on this problem and develop a solution for more effective lead generation. This could be delivered as a done-for-you lead generation service or training for the business owner and sales people on how to effectively generate more leads.
Whatever the sales problem is that the business is facing, the job of the sales consultant is to identify it and then offer a solution to fix it.
What Is a Marketing Consultant?
Similar to the sales example above, a marketing consultant would be retained by a business owner who is having problems with their marketing strategy or message.
Maybe they need help creating greater brand awareness through online advertising, search engines, or social media. Or maybe their marketing message is not resonating with the market and the promotions they’re running are attracting the wrong type of people.
The job of the marketing consultant would be to step in, identify problems with the current marketing strategy (or lack of one) and then devise a plan the business owner can either implement themselves, or which the consultant will execute on their behalf. An effective marketing consultant will provide specifics and a clear path to success for the business. The plan will be customized to the individual business and designed to counter the problems they’re facing today.
The marketing consultant may refer the business owner to specialists in specific marketing channels which they think could be beneficial. A Facebook advertising consultant could be brought in, or an SEO consultant, or maybe an email marketing consultant. In some situations the business owner will just be training themselves on how to better deploy effective marketing. It all depends what solution to the consultant and the client think are best, and what the budget allows for.
What Is A Business Consultant?
If we’re looking at what a business consultant does, the scope will be a little wider than the sales and marketing consultants already discussed. The reason is ‘business’ is a broad area, with lots of individual moving parts.
Someone looking for a broader business consultant may not be entirely sure where their problems lie. They may not know if they’re facing issues in sales, marketing, finance, or whether staffing and people challenges are holding them back. The business owner knows something is not right – revenue is down, profitability is suffering, or they just cannot break through to the next level and feel like the business is stagnating. In a situation like this the business consultant would be brought in to evaluation everything and devise a strategy. This would first involve identifying problems of course, so it becomes clear where time, effort and financial resources need to applied.
So that’s an overview of what consultants do. Really they are identifying problems in a market for their clients, then putting together solutions to solve them. The solution could be a product, a service, or some kind of training. If you’d like some more examples read this article which has some thoughts and job descriptions from real-world consultants. And if you’re wanting to start your own consulting business then this quick guide will put you on the right path to success.
Best of luck on your consulting journey!