5 Things to Look for When Hiring a Consulting Firm

Finding the right consulting firm doesn't have to be a chore if you know what to look for.

learn more about Bart Mroz

By Bart Mroz • Feb 20, 2017


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There are many reasons why businesses hire consultants to solve an issue within the company. Whether it's because the company wants an unbiased opinion or because it doesn't have the resources to address the issue internally, consultants offer a way to problem solve without costing a fortune.

However, how do you know which consulting firm is right for you? What should you look for when seeking expert advice?

Although the right fit is highly dependent on your project goal, here are five things that can help you figure out if a consulting firm is worth working with.

Track Record of Success
You should always ask about who they have worked with and how successful the project was. Some consultants may be great at pitching you but have no track record of success. That is why it is important to speak about the firm's prior experiences with an issue similar to yours or with a company of your size.

Always make sure that the firms you're interviewing can refer you to past clients who can confirm a successful project. Actual client references will help you determine which consulting firm can address your issue more efficiently.

An Experienced Team
You can learn a lot about a consulting firm based on how they pitch you as a client. The best consulting firms care about your time, and they won't waste it by initially presenting to you with senior members of their team but using less experienced consultants to do the actual work. Whoever presents to your company at the beginning should also be who your team actually works with in the long run.

In addition to having an experienced consultant, your company also needs to determine whether or not you'd prefer to have an individual or group of consultants work on your case. Your company's budget and needs will help you figure out how big of a team you should hire to achieve your goals.

Reasonable Cost Structure
Companies generally hire consultants when they cannot afford to build out a full team. So cost structure should be especially important when determining which consulting firm you want to work with. You want to find a firm that provides you with adequate services at a rate that makes financial sense.

Determining a reasonable cost requires more than simply finding the cheapest vendor. An inexperienced consultant who is cheaper but takes a longer time to reach your goal may be more costly than an experienced consultant who reaches your goal more quickly but with higher bill rates. Whatever level of experience your consultant has, you should keep your budget in mind when speaking with different firms.

Moreover, you want to work with a company that intends to solve your issue without dragging the contract on for too long for the purpose of keeping you as a client as long as possible. Good consulting firms will propose an end date for resolving your company's problem that doesn't extend indefinitely.

Added Value
Although it might seem wise to hire a specialist, companies should aim to hire a consultant who has worked in many industries. A generalist will be able to pull from different experiences across different industries and come up with creative solutions that your business would not have been able to come up with internally. You should seek to add extra skill and value to your team, instead of simply enhancing what your team can already provide as experts in their specific fields.

Communication Skills
The most effective consulting firm is able to listen to their clients and communicate in an efficient manner. Make sure that the consulting firm's team pays attention to your needs and demonstrates the ability to give an honest, unbiased opinion about the issues and how to fix them. Clear and effective communication skills are imperative to making this business relationship beneficial to your company.

With the world of consulting growing quickly, businesses must be able to figure out how to pick the right consulting firm for them. No one firm meets the standards for all companies. However, this list should help you narrow down the process. Whatever your goals are, you must ensure that the consultant has the background and skill necessary to help you in your endeavors.

Bart Mroz

Co-founder and CEO of SUMO Heavy

Bart Mroz is the co-founder and CEO of SUMO Heavy, a digital commerce consulting and strategy firm. He is a serial entrepreneur who has over a decade of business management and technology experience. Mroz was a founding partner of multiple consulting companies and a thought leader who has been published in top eCommerce publications including Internet Retailer and AdExchanger. Prior to founding SUMO Heavy, Mroz was a partner at round3 media, a creative e-commerce agency, as well as owner and managing director of SimplyHelp, an IT firm based in Philadelphia.

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