Many practice professionals and consultants hate the idea of having ‘to sell’.
Even the mention of the word is sometimes too much to bear so instead they prefer to use ‘business development’ or ‘account management’ or ‘client relationships’ – anything but ‘selling’.
However pause for a moment and consider this. The more senior you become the less relevant your expertise and technical skills are – what becomes more valuable when you’re a partner or a director is your ability is to ‘sell’ to ‘feed the little fishes’ that make up your firm.
Here are 9 reasons why professionals and consultants hate the idea of ‘selling’ and how to learn to 'love' to sell.
1. Selling is an ‘Accidental (and Low Status) Profession’.
Nobody – even professional sales people – ever thought when they were 7 years old that what they really wanted to be when they grew up was a ‘sales person’. No. They wanted to be astronauts, sailors, soldiers, scientists, engineers, doctors – yes even accountants and lawyers.
Even if they did want to grow up to be a ‘salesperson’ I’m sure they were quickly put off the idea by their parents.
There was no way that you were going to be a salesperson. That’s just too low status a job. I mean – who even wants to say that they’re a salesperson. I’ve known lots of professional sales people who can’t wait until they’re a sales manager or sales director – because now they’re ‘management’.
But speak to the most successful people in the world and they will tell you that the one skill they would teach to their kids is how to sell.
The skill of how to take an idea, a service, a product – and find and create a relationship with someone else where that idea, or service, or product solves a problem for them – and for that they are happy to pay them.
When we sell, we are looking to identify and solve problems and ease pain for our clients. The more problems we can solve for our clients, then the more successful we can be and we create LTCV – ‘Long Term Client Value’.
2. They Think of Selling as a High-Pressure Exercise.
The predominant stereotype of a sales person is someone who will charm, smarm and pressurise us to buy something we have no need for or interest in. That model of selling evolved way back in the day when ‘commercial travellers’ often had one product and if they didn’t sell – they didn’t eat. Hence the pressure. It was survival thing – you or me.
However in today’s interconnected and digital world what we sell, who we sell to and how we sell is significantly more sophisticated.
Often the people doing the selling are experts in their field – and they have to be. Not because they have to explain anything to the ever more sophisticated, mobile, educated and wireless enabled customer or client – but because now their role is one of an advisor.
Their job is not to ‘push’ anything but to help clients to understand how to deploy their services to solve one or all of the four ‘Principles of Value’ to a client.
1. How to save time.
2. How to save money.
3. How to solve their problem.
4. How to help them feel good.
That’s it. Selling is about ‘being of service’ and the more people we can be of service to – and monetise the value of that service – the more successful we shall be.
If we can’t do any of the above for a client or they can’t see how we can do it for them – we just walk away and find someone we can be of service to. That’s just being professional.
3. They Fear Rejection (and Failure).
It is said that ‘sales people live lives of constant rejection – interspersed by moments of blissful triumphs’. Rejection is a fact of selling and we do have to live with it but it does make the victories sweeter.
Just consider two things though when you are rejected.
1. That person has just voluntarily removed themselves from the benefit of your time and attention – which can then be better and more profitably applied elsewhere. They have just by choice removed themselves from your tribe. Move on, that's their loss. Spending time worrying about that or doing your best to win or retain them is not an effective use of our valuable time.
2. The reasons we are rejected can be many – but seldom personal. They don’t know you well enough to reject you personally so something else didn’t click. Fear of rejection is most linked to a corresponding fear of failure but there are really only two states in anything we do in our professional lives – success or feedback.
Once we learn from the rejection, we can adapt. Selling is a process of focused activity. Learn from it and come back stronger the next time. That way those clients who do choose to work with us – get the best of us.