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7 key consulting skills that clients value

Feb 25, 2024 · 6 minutes to read

Having the right skills is an essential part of management consulting. Clients rely on your consulting expertise, but you’ll need more than just sound knowledge to get the job done. There are also a number of soft skills that can help you better manage your work and build strong relationships with your clients.

Two businessmen are discussing about the financial budget of the company and sharing the correct analysis.

Let’s explore seven vital soft skills and why they are necessary consulting competencies for growing your small business.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are traits that help you interact with the people around you, solve problems, and manage your work. Though they are non-technical skills, they may improve your consulting and help you grow your business. Soft skills complement your consulting expertise and the hard skills required to do your job.

Here are seven business consulting skills that can help you build trust, work more efficiently, and win over potential clients:

Active listening

A key part of management consulting is listening to your clients. The information they share with you is essential to understanding their goals and needs.

Active listening is more than just hearing what a client has to say. It also means taking the extra step of making sure they feel heard and fully understanding them. This might include focusing on the speaker, listening without interrupting and paying attention to their body language.

Observation

Many consulting projects require strong observation skills. It may be necessary to watch people work or observe how they interact with each other. What you see, along with what the client has already told you, can help you gain a more comprehensive picture of a business, its operations, and its employees.

Observation can also help you pick up on things that a client has not told you. Clients often hire consultants to point out potential issues that they can’t see. Keen observation skills can help you spot relevant information that the client may have missed.

Collaboration

Management consulting may require you to work with people at all levels of a company. Collaboration may be required between management and employees, as well as across multiple departments.

Collaborating with different staff levels and departments may yield better results than only working with a small slice of a company. A client may think that an issue lies in one area but may be unaware that other parts of the business are also affected.

Problem-solving

Businesses hire consultants to solve problems, making this a core business consultant skill. Depending on the type of consulting you provide, your problem-solving may involve resolving employee conflicts, creating a business plan, providing training, or analyzing a department’s operations—just to name a few.

Your ability to listen to someone’s concerns, understand their goals and propose practical solutions is critical. Problem-solving may be one of the most important soft skills you’ll use on the job.

Creative thinking

Every business is unique. Solutions that worked for one client may not work for another. That’s when it’s time to get creative!

Creative thinking could help you discover out-of-the-box solutions for your clients. It stretches your imagination, knowledge and technical skills, making you a better consultant! These clever fixes could also be applied to future projects for the same client or new ones.

Organization

A client’s time is valuable—and so is yours. Organization helps you stay on track so you can work efficiently and effectively. This can help you increase your return per client and may allow you to take on more or larger projects to boost your earnings.

Organization also signals to clients that you value their time as well as your own. By coming to meetings prepared, you prove your professionalism and avoid delays digging for vital information.

Communication

With solutions in hand, it’s time to clearly communicate them to the client. Getting your point across effectively and accurately is an important part of the job. A misunderstanding or mistake could lead to a lawsuit if the client alleges that your work caused them financial loss.

Using empathy while communicating can also help ‘sell’ changes to stakeholders, departments, and employees. Consultants are often hired by a company’s board or executives, but it’s lower-level employees who are responsible for implementing the changes. Communicating these to them with empathy and taking time to understand how changes will affect them personally may help them accept and adopt changes more readily.

Using soft skills to protect your business

Soft skills can help you grow your consulting business, but they may also help you avoid a huge risk: lawsuits caused by unhappy clients.

Clients hire you with certain expectations. If these are not met, they might decide to sue your business. Even if the allegations are untrue, it could still cost you thousands of dollars to defend your consulting business in court.

However, your soft skills could help you minimize this risk in several ways:

  • Active listening, observation, and cross-company collaboration can help you identify issues that clients may not know they have and provide a more comprehensive solution to their problems.
  • Strong problem-solving and creative thinking skills help you create customized solutions rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all approach that may not fully work for every client.
  • Organization can help you hit crucial deadlines that may be written into a project contract.
  • Clear verbal and written communication could help you avoid costly misunderstandings between yourself and your clients.

Professional Liability insurance—your consultancy safety net

You may have strong soft skills and an abundance of industry knowledge, but things could still go wrong. A simple mistake, misspoken instruction, or missed deadline could lead to a lawsuit. That’s where Professional Liability insurance could be useful.

A Professional Liability insurance policy (also known as Errors and Omissions or E&O insurance) is an essential policy that protects you and your company in case of a lawsuit due to alleged professional wrongdoing. Your policy could help you manage costs, like your legal fees or financial settlements.

As you can see, Professional Liability insurance can provide an important safety net for management consultants, helping to shield your business and personal assets should a client decide that your work is not up to industry standards.

Find consultant insurance for your business today with BizInsure. Compare coverage from A-rated insurers and get covered instantly—start now!

As with any insurance, coverage will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. The information contained on this guide is general only and should not be relied upon as advice. The number of quotes provided varies between products, occupations and other underwriting factors determined by the insurers.
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