When I presented to a CEO and his staff recently, my client – the VP of Global RFP Management for a large Investment Management Company – introduced me as “a consultant”. She then went on to highlight my credentials, the successes I’ve achieved for other clients, my professional accreditations, etc.
But, giving all consultants a bad name, sadly all too often such an individual probably has little to no actual hands-on experience and may in fact know quite a bit less than those whom he or she is consulting. Indeed, the assignment they’re on may be the first time they ventured into that particular industry or area of work and yet they believe they have the right to tell these more experienced and knowledge people how to do things better.
Based on comments I heard (and some great jokes of which I’ll share a couple of favorites in a bit so keep reading!) this general view of consultants is held by many people in the business world. In fact, I think a recent Dilbert comic summed up many people’s view of consultants pretty well –
I love planning out a proposal project and figuring out a plan for a good tight timeline. Conducting a strategy session and crafting a great executive summary (no matter how many drafts it might take.) Reviewing the written content and looking for ways to make it even more powerful. The sound of printers as the final docs go to print.
I even still get a kick out of collating the books and seeing them go into shipping cartons (and I’ll sorely miss that part when we finally start doing only electronic version and stop killing trees). I always have my sleeves rolled up ’cause it’s that kind of job.
I admit to being ‘Passionate About Proposals’. And like anyone who is truly passionate something, I am always eager to talk about them with others who share my interest. I go to APMP conferences and industry events such as the Pragmatech User Forum (and if you haven’t been to one yet you’re really missing an exceptional event!) and enjoy the buzz of being with my fellow proposal professionals and talking proposals.
And yes, I occasionally get on and need to be knocked off of my soapbox (fortunately Jon is already right there to do so – sometimes even a little too quickly!). I truly enjoy my work – and I recognize and fully appreciate that it’s a fortunate person who truly enjoys their work – and get great satisfaction out of being able to help people improve their capabilities and the quality of their responses.
I went on to explain to this group to whom I was presenting that I wasn’t about to tell them how to do their job (and got appreciative smiles, nods and sighs of relief)…something they know how to do much better than I. They know how to sell, they know their customers and their industry. And they know how to structure a deal.
I then pointed out that what they might not know quite as well as Jon or I (and our associates) is the how to best develop highly effective proposals and do so in the most efficient and cost effective manner. I then went on with my presentation which was very well received and in fact, we’re now implementing a major proposal improvement initiative – with the full support and buy-in of this CEO and his staff.
So though what we do falls into the category of consulting, please don’t refer to me as a consultant – I’m a proposal guy.
A delightful side bar to this. Turns out for me this opening statement was just the right thing to say since (as I found out after my presentation) the person who presented to this group immediately prior to me was in fact a consultant and my description fits them perfectly. Needless to say this person’s presentation and suggestions did not go down well.
Ok, as promised above (for those of you who have read this far…and thanks for doing so.), a couple of my favorite consultant jokes. Feel free to share these with a friend.
Consultant joke #1
Q. How does a consultant tell you the time?
A. They borrow your watch. Tell you the time. And then keep your watch.
Consultant joke #2
Q. Is the glass half empty or half full?
A. You’re focusing on the symptom, not the real problem. After careful analysis, extensive research and lots of thinking time, I’ve determined that we just need to redesign the glass.