How to Build Effective Consulting Relationships


Contributed by Bridgepoint Consulting

I’ve spent the last 30 years of my career in the consulting business; 20 of those at KPMG and the last 10 at a smaller consultancy, Bridgepoint Consulting. I felt this was the perfect time to shed some light around some of the lessons I’ve learned around effective client-consultant relationships. My hope is that this information will provide guidance to other business leaders so they avoid common mistakes, build strong relationships with their consultants and improve their overall business execution.

As I reflect on my consulting career, these five key attributes stand out in my mind as paramount to building effective client-consultant relationships:

  1. Trust
  2. Relationship management
  3. Clear communication
  4. Culture fit
  5. Good consultants


First and foremost, all good relationships are based on trust. I cannot emphasize this enough. Without trust we cannot even start the relationship.

However, your relationship with a consulting partner is a substantially different type of relationship than, say, purchasing a car or buying a can of Pennzoil. In many cases, consultants are involved in the most intimate parts of the business. If clients don’t trust us fundamentally to do the right thing for their organization, we cannot have a long-term relationship that’s built on trust and ultimately leads to success.

Client-consultant relationships are also based on transformation. When you’re in an environment where you’re having substantial change in the organization, there will be natural conflict. There will be times when the consultant does not perform, and times when the organization also fails to meet expectations. Some of the most difficult conversations that I’ve had with clients have been based on the lack of performance of their team. You cannot have those kinds of conversations and honest dialogue until both parties trust each other.

Mutual trust allows both parties to bring their most effective selves in a range of situations—good or bad. Trust also helps you to navigate through any clashes in approach or philosophy, to ensure continued success.

Continue Reading How to Build Effective Consulting Relationships on the Bridgepoint Consulting blog.

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