If more time is being given to external consultants than internal ideas, it might be.

You know what I’m talking about.

It’s that time when you end up sitting in a room with 6 of your colleagues listening to one person speak. He may be in a suit, or he may be in jeans, but he’s definitely got some slick PowerPoint slides and in the space of 30 minutes he’s told you everything he knows, including:

  • All the problems your industry faces today
  • Exactly what solution your business needs
  • That they have the insights on what your customer wants
  • Why you’re at risk of disruption if you don’t change the way you do things

He’s also costing your business thousands of dollars a day to tell you what you and 6 other people in that room already knew.

Welcome to the Smooth Talking Drone – the corporate STD.

Usually an agent of an independent consulting firm, the corporate STD is there selling you a dream – a vision of what your company might be if you take their advice.

You’ve been here before too – maybe more than once. The previous corporate STDs had different logos on their business cards but they sold a slightly different variation of the same message.

You’re rolling your eyes as they speak because you’re aware of a few things:

  1. They know all the problems your industry faces, but they haven’t taken the time to explore your business and its problems
  2. They know the solutions your business needs, but they don’t understand your current technology environment, or how their solution might even integrate. 
  3. They have the insights on what your customer needs, but they haven’t actually spoken to any of your customers yet
  4. They keep saying you’re at risk of disruption, but right now any number of their colleagues are off saying the same things to your competition.

It doesn’t matter how slick their message is, the corporate STD has been sent in with one goal – to return value to their shareholders by getting your company to sign up to a solution. They’ll dig a little bit into your business and customers later, but right now they are trying to make the sale.

And they’ll say whatever it takes to do it.

So how do you treat a corporate STD?

Question everything they say. You have the knowledge they haven’t yet acquired. You have the experience in your business. Most importantly, you know what your customer needs.

Use that to your advantage.

But don’t fight them.

If you fight them you might win. You might also lose.

You see, the corporate STD isn’t a bad person. They are trying to help your business – the more successful you are, the more successful they are. But push too hard and you might find yourself out of favour.

If you ask them open questions that are specific to your organisation then one of two things will happen:

  1. You will eventually reach a point of value. The pitch they’re doing changes from generic to specific. The solution they are pitching evolves to become fit for purpose and solves your business problems
  2. Or their presentation ends and you never hear from them again. But your business is prepared to explore your ideas further.

Either way, you definitely won’t lose.

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