As communicators, we instinctively know that we provide consultative support to our business partners. However, as much as we bring to bear critical thinking, outcomes focus, and business acumen capabilities to our conversations with partners, there continues to be a disconnect with how our partners value this consultative approach.
The Council ran a workshop for our European membership last month in Zurich, as part of our effort to help Communications teams move up the value chain.
In the workshop we asked all of the 43 participants out loud if they think they add value to the business. All responded ‘Yes’! Then we asked them to write down what they think their business partners think of them, and we got a very different story. Communicators are the people who ‘write press releases’, who are ‘the right-brained, creative ‘types’’, who ‘help you put pretty colours on the website’.
But, is consultative skills just a ‘buzz word’ or do they really matter for communicators? And if they really do matter, then how and why do they matter? Here are 5 reasons why we want to help you develop consultative skills through attending one of our training sessions:
- Anyone can be a consultative business partner:
As a communicator, you already possess the skills needed to be a consultative business partner. However, in order to be effective, you need to engage your business partners by asking ask them about what they think they already know.
- Anyone who was not part of the original process can catch up with what you already decided, in a matter of minutes:
If you take the initiative to record this process, then this allows for any member of your team to quickly get up to speed by reading your notes – which is part of the benefit of making it a process.
- If you don’t get the results you were hoping for, it is easier to make mid-course corrections:
Since you’re now creating a process and recording the sessions with your business partners, you now have the ability to go back and conduct a step-by-step analysis to uncover the weak or missing link.
- The process lets your business partners see a direct link between what Communications does, and a metric-orientated outcome that allows them to be more successful:
Remember that you ultimately want to work with your business partners to determine what your target audience should be doing differently. Your success then will be determined on your ability to help drive the behavioral change that will lead to the desired outcomes. Your business partner is an intrinsic part of the discussion where you set the metric; ipso facto they will appreciate the discussion.
- Over time, partners begin to see the real consultative value of the Communications function and come to you with increasingly more strategic & higher value requests:
Once you begin to embed this process, you’ll be on your way to creating successful products for your business partners. It now only makes sense that by consistently providing your business partners with quality work that they’ll continue to seek your advice in the future!
CEC Related Resources: