According to the Oxford Dictionary, a consultant is "A person who provides expert advice professionally." The keywords in this definition are "expert" and "professionally." Therefore, consulting should never be confused with sales but as sage advice on a given problem. Whether they represent a company with a solution or just as a consultant, sound advice, not sales, should be the priority.
So, what creates a great consultant instead of a good consultant? A firm understanding of the client's needs and desires leaps into mind. This understanding describes why most consultants tend to be well experienced in their field with years of experience. But how would you develop a great consultant? Various training programs are a start, but only as a start. After that, one-on-one mentorship is the key.
These mentorships get the seasoned professional to observe and assist the newer consultants towards a better path to success. Point them in directions of study, in both technical and people skills to better understand their clients and their needs. Again, not a sales job, a professional advice role. Every option for the client should be explored; some clients need a single solution; others have in-house resources that just need to know the options available. Then there is the budget problem; consultants should do a cost-to-benefit analysis for the client. This goes with the previous statement and expands it. For example, if the problem is solved with the in-house resources to handle it, they might just need refinement of requirements. If not, and they are looking for an off-the-shelf solution, then solution options should be provided.
Demanding customers are many and varied, and a great consultant will know how to deal with them. It is especially with demanding customers that mentorship is paramount. The previous blog talks about Alternative WorkSpaces (AWS, i.e., remote) and the importance of keeping the personal connection. So, besides some group programs for the basics, the one-on-one relationship and evaluation are crucial.
Recent studies have shown that remote work is not only the path forward, as it allows a much larger pool of candidates, but there does still need to be some social interaction as well. Perhaps a video chat room where anyone within the organization can access and just do the water cooler thing to a weekly "happy hour" for non-work chat and just getting to know each other. The water cooler and happy hours help the team to mesh, and share ideas, complaints, successes, and lessons learned.
In addition, a group meeting for awards and recognition is an excellent idea to boost morale and expand everyone's talent pool. We are all on the same team, so we should perform that way. If a problem arises and you already know who has successfully solved it, you know whom to go to. There is always, of course, the old greybeard manager that should be kept in the loop so they know what they are doing right and where they can improve as well.