Tips to buy strategy consulting

1 March 2013

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3 March 2013 | Anna Reynolds

The question ‘why is strategy consulting so hard to buy?’ was put to senior executives at the MCA Consultancy Buyers Forum event in London this week.

Jon Kinsey, chairman of pet food business MPM Products, said the challenge is often to convince senior management this type of consulting is necessary. This is something he has endeavoured to do in his own business. “The problem is that people aren’t brave enough to hire people who are more intelligent than them to tell them what to do,” he said.

Tim Lyle, managing partner at advisory business Livingstone Partners said the difficulty is trying to convince partners of its value, while Steve Shaw, HR director at marketing agency Interpublic commented: “There are not many who can accurately diagnose what is wrong with your business structure. It’s not a ‘one size fits all’. You are buying into a person.”

Martin Gammon, managing director at FM services provider OCS Group and Charles Tilley, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants agreed trust is key to buying strategic consulting. “I ask myself if I can trust the partner to help me through the process. To get change in an old business is very hard,” said Gammon.

Tilley remarked: “It comes down to people having the right skills and above all trust. They have to be able to match our culture.”

Paul Winter, CEO at strategy consultancy Concerto Partners added having a good relationship with your consultants is crucial. “You can normally tell if you are both using familiar language and phrases that you have an open and honest relationship. Also you should feel you have the right to challenge them,” he said.

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