Direct selling companies need the support of a consultant at various stages and for various reasons. Maybe needless to say, the right or wrong consultant can make all the difference. Unfortunately, there are so many people out there representing themselves as ‘experts’ or ‘gurus’, that are in reality, neither.
But how can one find the right consultant, then?
Where to Look For
Word of mouth is a strong ally here. Ask the people who had utilized consulting services and those who you think might know the best consultants through their connections.
Web Site / Blog / Media Reflections
Just like you start shopping for anything you are not very familiar with, just “Google”! Use the relevant keywords and see who will appear either through their own web sites, blogs or through their appearances in the media.
Direct Selling Association
Most probably you have one in that country. Consult it… If that association accepts (not all does, just so you know) supplier members, the consultant you are looking for will most likely be there. If there is no supplier membership category, then approach that association’s president or director and ask for assistance. And what’s more is that you need to find out more here about the various suppliers connected to your company. This could also mean your electricity supplier.
What to Look For
Once you have put together the candidates, invite them for interviews. This should not necessarily be face-to-face. Programs like Skype or GoToMeeting are great facilitators. During this time, try to probe the consultant’s competence. Your focus should be on the consultant’s expertise and knowledge in the area that you need assistance, and on getting a general feeling of the fee structure. In the meanwhile, check for the chemistry between you, your colleagues and the consultant. Ask yourself and your teammates if you can visualize the consultant as your partner. Watch also for the consultant’s manners to see if s/he looks, acts and speaks professionally.
What to Assess
Ask for a written proposal. The proposal should clearly state what the consultant aims to deliver, the length of time involved, and at its cost to you. The presentation of the proposal is just as important as its content. It is just another sign of the level of professionalism. Some consultants have difficulties in supplying references due to their clients’ confidentiality requirements. Try at least to get a clear idea of what the consultant achieved in the past.
Every business at a certain point in its life cycle, requires an outside expert opinion and/or a fresh look from outside.
Do your best to hire a consultant who you will hate to see leave, and who you will want to re-hire at the next appropriate project.