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How do those who have spent more than $20,000 on a consulting project that did not involve an RFP find the consultant they hired?


I think those of us in the marketing advice game deal with some challenging biases:

I believe that researching the buying side of a consulting transaction may provide more useful data and insight. This is somewhat in the spirit of How Clients Buy - A Practical Guide to Business Development for Consulting and Professional Services


Use a grounded theory method. Interview 30 people who made the decision to buy >$20k of consulting services without using an RFP process. Recruit these interviewees using a medium-length survey that will gather qualitative data, incidentally producing well over 30 data points of a less rich and nuanced quality in the process.

(A core assumption here is that "no RFP-involved" is a good proxy for "not-yet-commoditized or completely un-commoditized solution space".)

Working Notes

Thinking through the recruitment:

LinkedIn in-connection message survey

Potential questions:

  • Have you ever hired an independent consultant for a project larger than $20K without using a Request For Proposal (RFP)?
  • Think of that project as you answer the following questions:
    • How much was this project worth to your business? (How much value or cost savings or other benefit did it create?)
    • How much did you pay the consultant you hired?
    • How did the consultant you hired price the project in question?
    • How did you first become aware of the consultant you hired?
    • Approximately how many other consultants or other solutions did you consider for the project in question?
      • If you considered multiple consultants for this project, how did you first become aware of the alternative consultants?
    • Why did you choose the consultant you did for this project?
  • Anything else you'd like to add about this?
  • Your name & email address

GDocs version: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xp243VavJjKM5XadnMhaJIpUDdXpevNFzQ12T1zrSwI/



  • Would it be better to split the first question in two?
      1. Have you ever hired an independent consultant for a project larger than $20K
      1. How did you hire the consultant? (Maybe multiple choice with RFP as one option and then an “other/fill in the blank”, too? … And is there a chance that you might capture some unexpected input that reveals how respondents think about the ways they hire or what the catalyst is?)
  • Then, if the answer to 1 is yes and the answer to 2 doesn’t include RFP, they proceed to following questions … It’s true that you’d be introducing more questions, and as you know the general rule is less is more, but I wonder if a more … atomic approach would reduce cognitive load. (Atomic as in small parts, not bombs)
  • Re: “how did the consultant price the project” — Maybe another opportunity for multi-choice with an “other” option?


Does the survey include independent consultants hired via a staffing agency? If not, you might want to make that clear.

There might be regional variations. Is it worth asking which country the respondent lives/works?

Additional questions that spring to mind….

Had you used this consultant previously for smaller projects?

Did the consultant offer different options which you then chose the option that best fitted your needs?

Would you use that consultant again and/or recommend them to a friend/colleague?

LinkedIn 1-question recruiting poll

Q: Have you ever hired an independent consultant for a project larger than $20K without using a RFP?

A1: Yes

A2: No, but I know someone at my employer who has

A3: No


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