To adequately answer this question, BrainTower conducted a research together with Profacts. The main goal of this research was to get an idea of the impact covid-19 has on sales & marketing consultancy. The study itself was carried out 3 weeks after the lockdown was imposed (in Belgium).
Like many other sectors, consultancy really did take a hit because of the impact of the virus. Even though a part of the assignments was called to a halt, consultants remain positive and use this extra time to gain a better position in the market by for example, following courses. Furthermore, flexibility and quality remain the biggest trumps consultants have.
1. Almost one out of four assignments was stopped or put on hold.
This is a result we all expected. When costs need to be reduced, external consultants are always one of the first victims. This was the case in 2008, it was also the case in 2011 and it is the case again today.
- 23.4% of the assignments were put on hold or simply stopped.
- One in five consultants were asked to perform fewer days.
- Only 34% of the consultants experience no impact on their assignment (yet).
2. Consultants are very down-to-earth when looking into the future
About 68% of the consultants expect a major impact on the sales and marketing market.
3 out of 4 consultants think it will take more than 6 months before the interim market is back to the same level as before the crisis started. Of these people, even 1 in 3 thinks it will take more than a year to fully recover.
3. Flexibility and quality remain the biggest asset of freelancers
This was proved once again. Consultants have, without any discussion, adjusted their contracts and agreements because of the new reality. They also seem to be flexible when looking into the future in terms of a (re)start date or the regime in which they will be working. Working 4/5 or even 3/5 is relatively easy in post-corona times. Homeworking may still be the norm, yet freelancers are willing to travel longer distances to the office. And 6 out of 10 consultants use this available time to strengthen their skills, for example their digital expertise.
Conclusion: working with freelancers has its advantages, both in good and bad times
It is not nice to see assignments stopped, but freelancers are used to uncertainty. They show understanding for crisis situations and accept temporary alternative filling-in of their project, a temporary halting of the assignment or working part-time. It might sound cliché, but also this crisis will be overcome and consultants will come out stronger. Quality will prevail and customer relations will be strengthened.
Interim- and project management are nowadays well established in many companies and remain an ideal way to call in expertise and handle peak moments. We remain optimistic about the future, although it ill be more difficult in the coming months.