My Twitter feed presents me with a number of articles and blog posts that advise readers on how to sell upper management on social media. One post in particular, “9 Ways to Sell Social Media to the Boss” from Social Media Examiner, suggests that sometimes it’s necessary to bring in an outside consultant to make this case more effectively.
The post says “external consultants seem to have more convincing power and more credibility” than company employees that may be social media savvy as well. “…Enlist the services of an external source to help management understand that the conversations are happening with or without them and that they don’t have a choice but to join in.”
In my early days as a W-2 employee, I witnessed my bosses being swayed more by what a consultant had to say than what internal employees did. Now that I’m working on the other side, I understand the influence someone on the outside looking in may have. I don’t think this is a reflection on the capabilities of a company’s employees. Rather, it’s a perception issue. Here are a few things your boss may be thinking that would lead her to trust a consultant over you.
Your boss sees you every day. Because you sit in front of your boss every day, she may take you for granted. Or in her mind, you may not be in the right position on the organizational chart to persuade her. This is where the neutrality of a consultant is valuable. He has no position on the org chart and he’s not clouded by office politics or how things used to be or should be done. He’s hired to solve a problem and he’s able to see this problem for what it is.
The consultant is seen as a subject matter expert. Social media is new to us all. Chances are, handling social media is a job function that was added to your plate after you’d been working for the company for a while. Although your boss has charged you with this new task, she still sees you in the capacity under which she hired you. The consultant, in this case, is seen as someone whose sole job is develop social media tactics for his clients to reach their goals.
The consultant is costing your employer more money per hour than you are. Salaries are line items built into the company’s overhead budget. However, companies pay for consultants out of department budgets—an expense that isn’t always foreseen during annual budget planning. The difference? For some reason, companies are much more aware of the amount of money that’s shelled out for the consultant than they are of your salary that’s paid out every two weeks like clockwork. And every meeting that consultant shows up to and every phone call that’s made to him is a reminder of that money. Bottom line: your employer is paying good money for him to deliver.
You’re not the only company the consultant is servicing. Consulting is how this person makes a living. He obviously has enough clients that believe in his abilities that he can rely on their fees and not a full-time job. Therefore, your boss sees him as valuable or sought-after. This also contributes to the belief that he’s a subject matter expert. If other people are paying for his services, then maybe we should, too.
Share with us: Have you ever felt the need to reach out to an outside consultant to help argue your point to your bosses? As a consultant, are there other reasons that company directors or other leaders take your advice over their own employees—even if both your ideas match?