January 25th, 2013
Consultants vs. Order Takers: Don’t Be Fooled!
I recently sat down with a new prospect and they shared a story with me about their initial experience with the software we were discussing. I was quickly able to realize that their first interaction was with an “order taker” – someone who simply asks what you want and makes it happen. How this differs from a consultant is what I’m going to explain in this article.
The Order Taker’s Role
An order taker simply does just that – they listen to you to find out what they need to do to complete the task/project. It’s like going into a furniture store, pointing to what couch you want to buy and having the store clerk write up your order. The clerk didn’t do much, other than maybe show you so options of couches in the store and what colors they come in.
The Consultant’s Role
Continuing with the furniture scenario, a consultant would be someone that would come to your house to see the surrounding furniture and room where the couch will go. He/she will measure the room, bring color samples, and help you determine what the best couch for your needs is. Then you will go to the store (with or without the consultant) to find said couch.
As a consultant, I ask a lot of detailed questions of my clients about how their business operates, what their needs are, what their goals are, and such. This is the groundwork for me learning more about their business so I can find out what they do and don’t know. The danger with any new initiative in a company is that you don’t know what you don’t know! So how could you know what questions to ask a consultant or order taker, if you don’t know what you don’t know?!
It’s the consultant’s job to figure out what you don’t know and ask pertinent questions to fill in the gaps. Then, and only then, can a plan be established to figure out how to achieve what you set out to achieve.
So when you’re interviewing a vendor/consultant to work with you on an initiative, make sure you not only make sure they are competent in the tools and skills to get the job done, but that they are also asking probing questions instead of sitting back and asking you for your existing list of wants/needs. If they give you the latter, run the other way and find the right consultant to work with that will not just be an order taker! It may cost you a little bit more, but in the end, you will get just what you need and the money will be worth the effort.