Oftentimes a client is nervous when considering hiring their first independent consultant, this nervousness stems from fears about the quality of the final product, productive use of time and resources, and the trust necessary for an independent consultant to be successful. They may wonder how they can trust someone they’ve never worked with before with an important project. Be prepared to provide them with a successful business case about the many benefits hiring an independent consultant can have to reassure them.
Here are five doubts clients may have, and ways to help them overcome their reservations.
Doubt #1: Cost Creep
Clients may express doubts about the financial aspect of hiring an independent consultant, fearing that it may be more expensive than hiring an employee. However, independent consultants can actually be a very cost-effective option for clients because they are experts in their fields, meaning that they will require little-to-no training, saving both time and money.
Additionally, most independent consultants will not only have a set bill rate, but will also work with the client to deliver a carefully crafted proposal that will define the scope, methodology and requirements of the project. This way, the client will know exactly how long the project will take, and what they should expect to pay.
Finally, unlike an employee receiving an annual salary on a permanent basis, independent consultants are only paid for the duration of the project. The employer will also avoid paying employee expenses such as health insurance, retirement fund matching and additional taxes.
Doubt #2: Experience
Making the decision to put an important project in the hands of an independent consultant rather than a company employee, will create some stress for the client. To help ease this stress, have a comprehensive resume, portfolio and client recommendations prepared ahead of time. Fully detail the projects you have been involved with, and provide samples of any work you’ve completed. (Tip: Make sure that you have permission to share.) Highlight any projects that are similar to the one you are being hired to complete.
You should also have a list of references prepared for potential clients to contact. This will not only assure them of your experience, but will also assuage any fears of questions regarding the reputation and reliability of your independent practice.
Doubt #3: Multiple Clients
Because the hiring of an independent consultant is generally on a temporary basis, a client may be concerned the potential conflicts of interest or the sharing of information with concurrent or future clients. If this occurs, remind your client that while it’s true that you will work on other projects, it’s no different than an employee who leaves for another position. Assure them that your reputation as a professional is far too important to risk on sharing information, and that you value professional behavior, including discretion. If you have a good working relationship with a direct competitor of a client, you may want to turn down the project to avoid finding yourself in a sticky situation.
Doubt #4: Availability
If you’ll be working from home, from an outside office or from a coworking facility rather than at the client’s office, there may be uncertainties about your availability and communication. Assure the client that you have a flexible schedule designed to fit client’s needs, and that as an independent consultant you are deadline focused. Unlike an employee, you are more concerned with fulfilling your responsibilities as outlined in your contract than simply putting in 9-to-5 hours.
Doubt #5: Outsider Status
A client may have doubts about putting their project in the hands of an “outsider,” someone who is not an employee with the company, who has the culture ingrained in their work style. Point out that this can actually be a benefit, not a drawback. Someone from outside the company brings fresh set of eyes and unbiased ideas to a project. As an independent consultant, you will have the objectivity and new perspective that someone from within the company may not, giving you the opportunity to bring new, creative ideas to the table.