By February 18, 2009 19 Comments Read More →

Consultant "Kills" With A Borrowed Knife

Remember, when you were a kid, you’d usually ask things from your daddy. If your daddy would say NO, you’d go to your mommy. Once the mommy says YES, the daddy’s NO does not count any more. Remember that? Consultant Wins Customer 
by Jin T

I do not remember it, but my kids constantly remind me of it. It is well known winning stratagem – “Kill with a borrowed knife“:

Attack using the strength of another (in a situation where using one’s own strength is not favourable) – Wikipedia

I use the stratagem very effectively in consulting.

Customer Wins Self

I am using this technique with each and every customer I work with. It works better than any technique I have used.

There are usually two reps I work with -a decision maker and field guy at customer’s. The decision maker sets the goals and the field guy works with me to solve the problem at hand. During the problem resolution I actively engage with the field guy – it helps building trust relationships (both personal and professional). When wrapping up the gig I consult with the field guy about how to better present the findings and recommendations. Then I wrap it up and hand out the report. During the final meeting I get the spotlights and everyone in the room looks at me.


“Ehm… Danny [the field guy] and I were working together. We tried to identify the most significant issues under a tight schedule… ehm… Danny, won’t your elaborate what we have found?”… “Sure, no probs”.

I sit quietly and let the guy explain his managers the results of the gig. His is fluent with the report as I was engaging him throughout the whole cycle. No black magic.


  • Danny’s managers are more trusting of him than me, so my report is more credible when presented by Danny.
  • Management is happy as they see that not only that the issue was resolved but also the knowledge was transferred – next time they can do it themselves, saving on [not] calling me.
  • Trust has been established unconsciously. They WILL call me next time. They usually do. They trust their hunches…

Trust your hunches…. Hunches are usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.” – Dr. Joyce Brothers

Practice This – Get Results

  • When with customers, seek allies – build your network to support you when you need it. 
  • Build your network. Period.

My Related Posts

Editor in chief – Jimmy May

About the Author:

This blog is dedicated to share simple practices I that get me results.

19 Comments on "Consultant "Kills" With A Borrowed Knife"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Dan Waldron says:

    Thanks for posting the article, was certainly a great read!

  2. mark Salinas says:

    ” When with customers, seek allies – build your network to support you when you need it.

    Build your network. Period. ”

    Very well stated!

  3. Gennaro says:

    Not sure if you’re familiar with Aikido, but that is the central dynamic of the martial art. There are no punches or kicks. It’s completely a reaction to the opponents attack. It’s effective on the mat or in life with debates or elsewhere.

  4. alik levin says:

    Great to hear you liked it!
    Networking is key.

    100% with you – using the strength of the opponent ti win him. Mental Aikido 😉

  5. Hi Alik

    Great strategy. And it is a win win for everyone.
    You are a very smart man 😉

    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

  6. alik levin says:

    Thank you for kind words ;).
    It is indeed a winning technique that never let me down so far…

  7. Two heads are better than one.

    I like the advice about networking. And when two people are presenting the same idea, it just seems a lot more powerful than when one person is. Good advice!

  8. alik levin says:

    That is right – two heads better than one.
    Here is another angle… a hundred consultants [heads] might be absolutely unable to convince a customer of buying into an idea, only because the customer does not really trust them. It only takes one guy [head] that the customer trust co convince him. The tactics is simple – “kill” with a borrowed knife, not with ten swords you posses. 😉

  9. tom says:

    I think there is just so much power from hearing it someone you know, usually no matter how bad or good it is.
    Great strategy.

  10. alik levin says:

    Thanks fot good words!
    I see it resonates with you 😉

  11. J.D. Meier says:

    Teaming up is the way to go.

    I’m a fan of playing to strengths. Per taught me long ago that your message lands better when other people chime in. At our formal meetings, it was important for me to have test speak for the test side, edit speak for the edit side, and product management speak from the product management side. When everybody sees that we’re all on the same page confidence goes up. More importantly, this gave a chance for each person to shine in their area of specialty.

  12. alik levin says:

    “to shine in their area of specialty”… sounds like a good goal. One day I’ll shine too… one day I’ll have my chance too…

  13. Liara Covert says:

    Cooperation, compassion and patience offer timeless answers. These strategies are ingrained before birth.

  14. alik levin says:

    I’ll keep these in mind when wrapping up my next gig.

  15. alik levin says:

    Happy you liked the article.

Post a Comment