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Questions to Ask Consultants Before Hiring Them

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January 8, 2021
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4 minutes
Leo Saini
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

Gone are the days when businesses could only find consultants through a few big consulting firms.

The advent of freelance consultants and online consulting platforms have made hiring top consultants so easy for businesses.

And don’t underestimate the reach of online consulting platforms. They have access to thousands of freelance consultants and can staff your project within a couple of days.

Also, freelance consultants who have worked for Fortune 500 companies are now available to work with small to medium-sized businesses. Truly, the best talent is now more accessible than ever before.

But how do you know which consultant is the best for you? In this article, we’ll discuss the four questions to ask consultants to make sure they’re the right fit for your business.

1. What Professional Disciplines Do You Specialize In?

As a business owner, you should try to hire a freelance consultant who is well-versed in a particular area and other closely related areas, too. For example, a Google Ads consultant might also be good at Facebook Ads. And a freelance management consultant could be excellent at both project management as well as strategic planning. Online consulting platforms are full of consultants who possess a wide range of related skill sets. So, before you hire, it’s best to ask the consultant questions about their skills.

Remember, if a consultant is an expert in multiple disciplines that are related to each other, you might only need to hire one for a given project. However, if you need a wide range of skill sets to make sure the project is a success, feel free to look for other consultants who might have those skills.

"To succeed as a team is to hold all of the members accountable for their expertise." - Mitch Caplan

2. Which Approach Will You Use to Achieve Our Business Goals?

Knowing a consultant’s skill sets is not enough, you have to know how a consultant will use those skills to help you achieve your goals. Asking a consultant about their problem-solving approach has another benefit. If a consultant is recommending an approach that you have already tried and failed at, you could ask for an alternate approach right from the get-go.

Rest assured, the best freelance consultants can come up with several ways to help you achieve your business objectives. If one method hasn’t worked for you, there might be ten others that a top consultant can come up with. That’s why having a clear game plan from the beginning really helps when you hire a freelance consultant from an online consulting platform.

3. Do You Have Any References of Your Previous Work?

Do you know what’s better than a shiny CV? Case studies and client testimonials. When you read case studies of a consultant’s previous projects, you will have a clear idea of how the consultant can provide value to your company. The best freelance consultants usually have some case studies in which they have demonstrated what exactly they did to achieve results. Online consulting platforms are full of talented consultants. You will definitely find some bright brains with a proven track record of success.

If a consultant does not have case studies that are relevant to your business’s project, you could check out some testimonials of their previous clients. Although testimonials are not as in-depth as case studies. You will get to understand a consultant’s personal traits and their ability to produce results.

Another thing to note here is that online consulting platforms themselves do thorough background checks on consultants before recommending them to companies. For this reason, the candidates that you hire through these platforms are likely to be the best freelance consultants. However, if you want to learn more about consultants before you hire them, case studies are the best way to do so.

4. Are You Working on Other Projects Right Now?

Understanding a consultant’s availability and workload is really important before you bring them on board. Obviously, a consultant will only talk to you in the first place if they are sure that they can take on new projects. But sometimes, your project might need exclusive attention from a consultant. In this case, you should hire a consultant who’s not working on several other projects at the same time, or maybe wait for their workload to decrease if you are not in a rush.

Even if your project doesn't require a full-time, exclusive commitment from a consultant. It’s necessary that you informally ask them about their current workload. You never know when the project scope might increase, or when you need some extra helping hands.

Extra: 5. What will you charge for this project?

Last but not least, and probably the most important question of all. Your job, as a business, is to get the best value for money. It’s not about how much you pay, it’s about what you get for the price you’re paying. For example, if a freelance consultant has worked as a senior executive at Google for ten years, you should expect a higher price tag. But the value you’ll get in return could be priceless.

Every consultant might have a different fee structure. Some might charge you an hourly rate for the number of billable hours worked, some might charge a one-time project fee, and some consultants might charge a base fee and a commission. Make sure you have all the fee-related discussions before you seal the deal to avoid any surprises later.

Final Thoughts

Online consulting platforms have made it really easy to find top freelance consultants as quickly as possible. But to choose the consultant who is right for your business, you need to ask them the right questions. You should know a consultant’s areas of expertise, availability, and approach to problem-solving before you hire them. If a consultant can provide you with case studies of previous success stories, you should use them to understand how that consultant can help you achieve your business goals. Finally, you should discuss the fee structure and negotiate a deal that’s a win-win for both of you.