International business consulting plays an important role in the worldwide economy by keeping business owners in the know.
Managing a small consulting business is not easy, let alone a multi-national corporation, so you have to stay on your toes when it comes time to dish out advice to a high-profile president or CEO. While every consultant wants to bring success to a business, making the wrong decision on an international basis could have repercussions for hundreds – even thousands – of executive members and employees around the world.
Interviews as a Research Tool
In order to ensure the smoothest working relationship possible, it is crucial that you maintain regular contact with the client. Communication is the key to many successful partnerships, and consulting is no exception. In most cases, the client will present you with a stack of data that may include accounting records and sales reports, but unless the problem in question is directly connected to those figures, you may wonder where to start. To make the entire operation much easier, it’s important to conduct a thorough series of interviews early on in the project.
The Process in Action
Interview sessions may allow you to uncover facts that would not have surfaced through the usual methods. For example, let’s assume you have just accepted a rather large task: to help an international company develop a highly effective marketing program. At first glance, you realize that the business’ website is lacking, failing to include contact information or a location search tool. Fortunately for you, it’s not rocket science. This website is in need of a major overhaul, especially since 80% of its visitors fail to return to the site a second time.
Taking a Step-By-Step Approach
So how do you confirm your suspicions? It’s time to talk to a few key players within the company. First, you need to identify the employees who are involved with the marketing aspects of the business, like the head of the marketing department, the company’s web designer, and of course, the client. This is the only way for you to get a firm grasp of the goings-on within the business, in an attempt to find the root of the problem.
Before you get started, it’s important to remind your interviewee that their comments will be held in confidence. Many employees will be hesitant to provide you with information, particularly if those details point a finger at someone specific within the company. In addition, it’s imperative that you keep an open mind when listening to and reviewing their answers. If you can’t remain neutral, your clouded judgment may prevent you from identifying the problem.
Even thought the entire process may prove to be very effective, don’t let it take over your consulting approach. Draft your questions beforehand and allow additional time for longer responses or inquiries made by the interviewee.
While it’s hard to set a specific time for the question and answer period, try to set aside four minutes for open-ended questions, and one minute for closed questions (which require only ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses).
Remember, global business consulting can cover a broad range of topics and perhaps even sub-companies, making a flawless and detailed process crucial.