Handling Consultants Who Up-Sell – the Relationship Doctor Speaks!

Through August, we’ve been running some of our “greatest hits” from what is almost seven years of Spend Matters UK/Europe.  We've kept up the latest important news and opinion that you need to know during the month, but frankly less happens for us to comment on – and yes, Nancy and I have taken some holiday (no, not together). So here is a bit of light relief from 2010 – and sadly the Relationship Doctor never became a regular feature! this will be the last of the "oldies" for a while as we expect to be back into the swing of things next week.


Since we started Spend Matters, we have had one request above all others. Quite literally one reader has asked, “why don't you run a problem page?”

The answer is that 'technical' problem pages tend to be a bit boring unless it was you who asked the question.  You know the sort of thing you get in technology websites / magazines.

“When I'm configuring my GX27-B router across the wi-fi sandwich co-ordinates, I get a unparalleled error message through the data-warp F section. Then the big-drop loses scram functionality and the comms chip overheats its barrel.  Why can't I get a girlfriend?”

So, although we liked the idea of considering problems, we're not going to be technical here. Instead, we'll focus on managing relationships, which we know is an important issue for all our readers.  And to answer your questions, I'm delighted to say we have engaged one of the world's leading experts on these topics.  Unfortunately, since the unfortunate episode with the medical authorities, and last week's  Crimewatch UK, France, Germany and Italy TV programmes, he will be writing here under his pseudonym; the Relationship Doctor; we'll call him RD for short.

So if you have any relevant questions, please send them to me (unfortunately the Doctor is not allowed his own email address under international telecoms regulations). Anyway, here is our first question for the RD.

Dear RD,

I thought I had a great relationship with this management consultant who was working with me on a project. We shared many a happy moment over our spreadsheets and four-box models.  Then I discover she has been seeing my boss behind my back, trying to get the project extended and more of her colleagues involved.  She's even taken him out for dinner to 'discuss business'. I thought she liked me! What should I do?”

Charles, Hampshire

RD says:

Consultants are good at building relationships, with pretty much everyone they come across - you're not the first to get hurt! She's been doing what the consultancy trade call, in their quaint language,  'up-selling'. It's legal in most EU countries although we do recommend you take appropriate precautions.  But for her, it's all about growing  the  business, I'm afraid, not growing her relationship with you.

Now, if she's delivering on your project, there's not much you can do – after all if she's doing a great job for you, you can't blame her for wanting to do more with your firm. But if her courting of your boss is getting in the way of her work for you, or she's doing this in your time while you're paying her on a day rate basis, you need to let her know this is not acceptable.  Be polite, but firm (consultants like that approach, I find); and tell your boss if necessary that you expect her to devote her time and energy to you and your project!

Look out for more from the Relationship Doctor! 

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