How Important are Soft Skills to an IT Consultant?
How important are soft skills to an IT Consultant? Sure, your techno-functional skills will help you get the job done. But if you want to build a long-term relationship with your client or want to be a trusted advisor, that is when the soft skills will come into play.
The obvious soft skills are of course being charismatic and social, having great oral and written communication skills and professionally presenting oneself. Being charismatic will go a long way in getting people to like and listen to you. Charisma also includes the way you position yourself with the customer. Every customer is different to the other. The ability to be a chameleon and adapt yourself to the customer is key in building up a rapport and enhancing the relationship. For those consultants who have international clients, it would be of great value to be aware of the cultural differences and nuances of different countries. Your social skills will help you to get to know your customer better- who the key stakeholders and decision-makers are etc. You also cannot stress the importance of great communication skills. You might have the best technical skills, however, if you are not able to communicate your ideas clearly to your customer, you will do yourself a great injustice and undersell yourself. Great presentation skills are also vital to go from being a good consultant to a great consultant.
Other than the obvious skills mentioned above, some other honorable mentions are the ability to listen, leadership skills and influencing skills. Consultants at times tend to struggle with the ability to listen to their customer. If you can listen and understand what the customer needs exactly, you will be on your way to delighting the customer – a sure way of building long-term relationships. Leadership and influencing skills also play a role in helping the customer understand the difference between what he wants and needs. By guiding the customer to understand what he needs, you will be playing the role of the trusted advisor which invariably leads to customer retention.
Therefore while focusing on improving your techno-functional skills, do take the time to hone your soft skills as well. It will help you sell yourself and the organization better – thus leading the way to greater customer satisfaction and retention.
Vice President – Compliance and Legal