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7 Questions for Vetting an Association Consultant

MemberClicks Avatar MemberClicks August 21, 2018
Table of Contents
3 min read

Considering hiring a consultant for your organization? Consultants can be an extremely beneficial outside perspective to incorporate into a specific project, or even a long-term strategy!

That said, some simply are better than others – and you want to make sure you’re spending association time and money wisely. As you dive into first meetings and interviews, here are a few questions you might want to ask to vet your potential consultants before you sign a contract:

1. What would you consider your biggest consultation success?
Success means different things to different people. Listen to their answer and see how well their measures of success align with yours. You’ll know it could be a good fit if you could see yourselves achieving goals together!

2. What would you consider your biggest consultation failure?
Similarly, you’ll want to know how they recognize where there’s room for improvement. Plus, you want a partner who is transparent and can accept responsibility. Be sure to ask what they learned from the experience, too, if they don’t offer that information initially.

3. What will I need to do to make this partnership work?
If your potential consultant answers with “Nothing!” – run away!! This is a partnership. There will be some legwork on your end in order for it to be successful, and you don’t want someone who doesn’t realize that. (Or is just telling you what they think you want to hear.) Plus, this is a good time to start understanding and setting expectations.

4. Do you employ a structured or customized consultation strategy?
Ideally you’ll hear a little bit of both, but you want to know that there is SOME kind of formal process to the way they’ll approach your organization. See if you can get a general outline of  the strategy, with customizations that fit your unique needs!

5. Do you have knowledge of the industry?
Some background knowledge is great – it’s certainly helpful to work with a consultant who understands your audience. But, you don’t want an industry expert for this partnership. Look for a consultant who’s worked with many different types of organizations. They’ll be able to offer outside perspective, and bring fresh ideas to the table that you may never have thought of!

6. What do you think is the biggest change that has happened in (X) in the last year?
Now, an industry expert is one thing – but if you’re hiring a consultant for a specific task (website maintenance, membership drives, event planning, etc.) they should be on top of current trends. Do some research beforehand yourself so you know how well their answer stacks up.

7. How do you think you can help us?
This is their chance to show you how serious they are. Depending on their answer, you’ll know whether they put the time into researching your organization and thinking strategically about how their services could help you and your members. Don’t move forward with anyone who can’t offer you a specific solution or two! Fluff is nice, but it doesn’t impact your bottom line.

If you truly are in the market for a consultant, we have a number of experts in different areas speaking at MC LIVE! – our upcoming conference! From data analytics to video production to customer experience and more, you’ll be able to connect with these leaders over three days of education, networking, and FUN in Indianapolis this October!

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