Friday, May 27, 2005

Another Consulting Dilemma - We, You, I?

So you are a consultant. You are helping a company develop a marketing plan. You get a feel for their product and develop a product plan, promotion plan, competitive analysis, the works. So as you talk to your customer, what pronouns do you use when you have conversations like:
"When (you/we) announce the product, (you/we) should have a core customer already committed whom (you/we) can quote in the press release."

"(Your/Our) competitor is really flagging in this particular segment and should be where (you/we) attack."

"I have an idea for a product extension for your product line"
OR "Our product line should be expanded into these areas".
The reason it is a dilemma for most consultants is because the goal of a consulting project is to suggest the next steps, which turns into a new consulting contract, so "we" is actually the goal. In my particular case the consulting contract is an extended job interview for both sides, and my use of "we" would be a good way to signal that I feel like a part of the "team". But I also don't want to sound presumptuous.

What I am currently using is a mix of both, plus some awkward sounding phrases like "When does (The Company) plan to have the product announced?"

But maybe it's okay to be presumptions. I was in a meeting with the *CEO* and he introduced me as a consultant, then added "But we hope to make him permanent." That's a pretty good signal, except I have seen plenty of CEOs agree to deals that never went through, which is a subject for an entirely different blog entry.

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