Project Management

Prepare to answer these client questions about your consultancy

Get an idea of what prospective clients might ask you during the interview process by reading this list of nine possible questions.

When meeting with a prospective client, you might show up ready to discuss what skills you have to offer to their organization; but you should also prepare to answer any client questions in order to win their business.

TechRepublic contributor Tom Rodenhauser shares his list of nine questions that he says clients should ask consultants:

  1. How long has the firm been in business?
  2. What kinds of assignments has the firm conducted that are applicable to your problem?
  3. What is the firm's general reputation in the business community, particularly in your industry?
  4. Who is the lead consultant or project leader, and what is his or her background and experience?
  5. What specific value measurements does the firm employ for each assignment?
  6. Can the firm provide a detailed breakdown of fees, including all costs of team members (including clerical) as well as out-of-pocket expenses?
  7. Does the firm guarantee its work?
  8. Does the firm conduct a post-engagement analysis?
  9. What will be the operational impact of this consulting assignment on your company?

Even if clients don't ask you all of these questions, this list is a good starting point to get you to think about your answers before you go into the meeting.

Be sure to take the time to ask a few questions of your own, too. Read Chip Camden's post about which questions you should ask before a new engagement.

What are some of the best and worst interview questions clients have asked you in the initial meeting phase? Share your experiences in the discussion.

About

Mary Weilage is a Senior Editor for CBS Interactive. She has worked for TechRepublic since 1999.

17 comments
TintheIE
TintheIE

Thank you for sharing your experience. 

The title of this article is "Prepare to answer these client questions about your consultancy" - Thus this article would have been more valuable to me if it contained some possible answers to these questions especially if one is just starting out in their consulting business (as am I) with no past clients as of yet, and is the sole employee.   Also; indicating the "meaning" of each question a prospective client would ask, and reasons as to why a they would ask it (besides the obvious 'to get an answer" reason) would be especially valuable to new consultants.  

If you could provide this information; then one could really become better prepared to answer such questions by a prospective client.  - Thanks for reading.

Ken Cameron
Ken Cameron

How does the list morph for independent or freelance consultants?

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

I have a bit of an issue with number 9 (operational impact). Mostly because it's a stupid question that will always get a "no problem" answer. Most salesmen won't know the answer. And if they did they wouldn't answer - unless they could spin it to their advantage. Second, unless it's a negative (implying a risk to the client), it's none of the client's business. Can you imagine telling a client "We're going to make 50% profit off this because we've already covered our overheads." or "We're going to make 75% profit because we can use the results from another engagement". And on, and on, and on. Glen Ford, PMP http://www.TrainingNOW.ca http://www.LearningCreators.com/blog

mishlynn
mishlynn

This is a very helpful blog posting. Thank you for the insight.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Best: Is this something you could get excited about? Worst: Can you do this for under $500?

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

it's still a question you should be ready to hear. Stupid questions get asked all the time, it's how you answer them (or refuse to) that counts. I think the right answer is "I stay busy, but I'll have no trouble managing this as well."

catpaw
catpaw

Worst question: My 15 yr old nephew said he can do it cheaper. Why are your rates so high? My answer: Enjoy your nephew's company. By the way, my rates double when I have to come and untangle the mess. I got a call about a month later from the customer complaining his network couldn't access the internet, the printers wouldn't work blah blah blah... but boy they were kick ass when it came to running games I'll bet!

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Funny how the 15-year-old nephew forgot to mention that it was only a prototype...

catpaw
catpaw

Oh yea... have to love 15 year old consultants! They are worth their weight in fees.

jck
jck

I have relatives in other states call me for help. I feel like the Maytag repairman of computers :^0 Luckily tho, my next door neighbors who I do work for pay me...in food and stuff. Plus, they helped to take care of me after I got hurt. So, I owe them big time. They are like family.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

It's bringing them around to reality. "That's the price you want to pay? OK, here's what you can get for that. Not much, is it?" My mother doesn't bother me about computer problems (she lives a few thousand miles away), but my wife and kids sure do!

jck
jck

I don't have that "snakey" car salesman rapport. I tend to just tell it like it is. If I know how to do what they want, I quote them a price. If I don't, I tell them someone who does whose abilities I trust can do it for them. I have never lowered my rate for anyone yet that I was asked to come do work for. Well, unless you consider my parents "customers". They get free help/repairs. :^0

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

"I do estimations based on your requirements..." Suggests an alternative: "let's discuss exactly what you could expect to get for that amount." That's an old car salesman tactic -- "we have this late model sedan available that seems to meet your budget..." -- then watch them convince themselves to pay more.

jck
jck

I would just look at them and say: "Well, I set my fee what I charge. And, I do project estimations based on your requirements to work out what will be needed to meet your needs." Of course, I could say something like: "Who do you think you are? Wal-Mart?" :^0

Editor's Picks