One of the many things I’ve learned over the years from consulting work is that in most cases what your client needs is 100% at variance from what you think they need, and often 50% at variance from what they tell you they need. In other words, it’s easy for consultants to make assumptions about what their clients need, and easy for clients to explain their needs poorly or even not fully understand their needs.
This means as a professional consultant you need to listen carefully to what your clients say they want, then ask detailed questions and listen carefully to the answers, all while trying to narrow down and ultimately pinpoint what your client really truly, deeply needs. This may require several short meetings to build up a rapport and trust, since clients can sometimes be defensive or secretive in initial meetings, rather than open and honest and ‘open-book’.
It’s funny how consulting isn’t just knowing all about rents or demographics or planning regulations—you also need to know people, and how to get them to trust you and work with you.