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How Consulting Firms Benefit from Using a Consulting Marketplace

In this article, I laid out how corporate clients seeking external expert support can benefit from hiring independent consultants through a consulting marketplace such as COMATCH. 

In this follow-up article, I expand on this and explain that even consulting firms can benefit from collaborating with consulting marketplaces.

To briefly recap, consulting marketplaces act as brokers between companies in need of external support and independent (or freelance) consultants. They significantly reduce the search and transaction costs on both sides compared to scenarios where companies and independent consultants have to find each other in largely non-transparent markets and make a contractual agreement without support. 

Consulting firms and consulting marketplaces: competitors or partners?

When corporate clients were facing the need to temporarily hire external support, they traditionally relied on consulting firms who send consultant teams extracted from their pool of salaried employees. Now, with the rise of consulting marketplaces, they can alternatively decide to hire freelance consultants through these consultant platforms. 

However – aren’t consulting firms and consulting marketplaces not natural competitors vying for the same clients? The short answer is no. In fact, consulting marketplaces often find that consulting firms are among their most frequent customers. 

Why is this the case?

Benefits for consulting firms 

Especially if you manage a small or medium-sized (specialized) “boutique” consulting firm, you may benefit from the services consulting marketplaces offer: 

Access to an additional workforce during times of peak demand: In contrast to the large top consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG, or Bain, a boutique consulting firm normally employs far fewer consultants. In times of peak demand, it can happen that a boutique consulting firm has “rented out” all the consultants it employs but receives further client inquiries. To temporarily fill its ranks, the consulting firm hires freelance consultants.

Expansion of available consultant pool: Sometimes a client wants to collaborate with a boutique consulting firm, but demands certain expert profiles that the consulting firm can only partially provide in-house—the firm may complement its teams with independent consultants. 

Ability to stay lean: Employed consultants hired on a full-time basis can cause a financial burden at times when there is no demand for them. Hiring freelance consultants prevents this from happening. 

Access to top talent: Even when boutique consulting firms want to hire new junior consultants on a full-time basis, very often they do not attract the high-caliber profiles they desire. Not least due to their smaller size, boutique consulting firms often lose out in the war for talent be because junior consultants frequently prefer to start their consulting careers in the better-known top-tier consulting firms. 

Often, freelance consultants have worked in the most prestigious firms prior to becoming self-employed. Consulting marketplaces provide boutique consulting firms with access to this top talent. 

Growth into new markets: When an existing or new client asks for support from a consulting firm outside of its core expertise, the consulting firm can leverage consulting platforms to find experts in those new functions/industries able to serve these client requests, thereby extending the consulting firm’s service portfolio. 

Shared values and experiences: Very often, boutique consulting firms are led by former (senior) consultants who also started their careers in these same top consulting firms. When they hire freelance consultants through consulting marketplaces, they can connect with professionals who likely previously worked at the same company or similar firm. Given the mutually shared work and cultural experience, it is often very straightforward to onboard them and integrates them into the company. For the same reasons, these independent consultants have an easier time meeting the high-quality standards required.

Therefore, if you lead a consulting firm and struggle to recruit the best employees – on a long-term or a short-term basis – then you may want to consider hiring a freelance consultant through a consulting marketplace.

As a former McKinsey consultant and current independent management advisor, I have learned to deal with the advantages and challenges of independent consulting. To help other freelance consultants who want to find a suitable consulting marketplace to offer their services, I conducted an in-depth review of several consulting marketplaces. I found that the COMATCH platform is currently run most efficiently. Furthermore, it offers a lot of the services to freelance consultants that consulting firms commonly provide to their employed consultants, which may have helped COMATCH to build such a large pool of top freelance consultants that clients can choose from. For further information on consulting marketplaces and features, watch this video review here.

In this article, I discuss how companies can benefit from collaborating with consulting marketplaces.