As David Maister famously puts in his timeless book The Trusted Advisor, “it’s not enough to be right, you must also be helpful”. You first need to earn your client’s trust, and with it, right to offer advice and be critical of the way things are right now.
What do clients want? You need to demonstrate that you understand them and you are transparent with them. It’s unhelpful to try and bamboozle your clients with jargon and numbers, instead tell what these numbers mean for them.
Consulting has traditionally thrived on information asymmetry: consultants used to know more than clients but this is going away. Not only do we need to shift to provide insight rather than just information, we need to disrupt our own industry to remain relevant. I’m talking, of course, about automation.
Yes, there will always be cases were clients hire consultants when they have already made up their mind and just want to rubber stamp their agenda. But these situations are becoming rare.
From my experience, clients are increasingly reluctant to pay for glossy PowerPoint decks. Managed services and post-implementation support might be some viable options to remain relevant and, therefore, profitable.