Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Consulting thought

A few days back, a so called colour consultant visited us. From a reputed painting company, this service allows customers to work with a consultant and choose colours for their walls. They take pictures of your walls and show it will look with the new colours. All in all, a neat marketing experience.

However, the consultants job is not an easy one. He cannot upsell - as in, his objective cannot be to maximise selling paint. He cannot in any way 'underestimate' the colour sensibility of his customer - however low their sensibilities are. But he also has to respect his own sensibilities as an 'artist'. Turned out that this particular guy was an artist.

He gave us a few options - some which we liked, some which we did not and some which resonated with our thoughts completely. Now, the third option - the ones which resonated with us - is the sweet spot for the consultant and the company. The trick is to know what are those - but that is dificult to get - because it is the place where the customers thoughts, the consultant thoughts and artistic sensibilities come to play.

But to get there is a bit of a difficult path. The customer wants a particular colour or a texture on a wall where it is an obviously bad idea - due to a combination of factors - like light for instance. As a consultant you have to respect that idea, yet give the customer a different idea without rejecting the customers idea. How to steer the customer from their pet idea to a new idea - is a tough task. And he mentioned it to me at one point that "customers do not like my idea".

The trick there is to make your (the consultants) idea feel like it is building on the customers idea, so that at the end the customer feels that their idea is valued - that is an easier path to take than to resist the customers idea and show them another path. Kind of judo - where you make the most of the opponents moves rather than trying to resist. Or, as they say about life - go with the flow rather than against it.

And what about us? Well, he kind of told us that our idea of putting textures was a bit of over kill and given our thoughts, a little bit of simplicity and a dash of colour would be ideal. He recommended a few things which were thought were OTT and we asked him his opinion of some of our thoughts - which he thought was a great idea  - and yes, we are well on the course of implementing it.