Selling Professional Services – Getting Comfortable

Here’s an exercise designed specifically for anyone that feels uncomfortable in a sales role but would like to improve their efforts selling professional services such as architecture, engineering, law or consulting.

First let me frame the elements that drive individual performance.

Three Critical Elements of Selling Professional Services

Your individual performance as a sales person (or in any role) will be a function of (i) your motivation to perform that role, (ii) your ability to perform that role, and (iii) the impact that your environment has on either assisting or hindering you in that role.

With this exercise we are dealing only with (i) your motivation to perform that role.

If you are uncomfortable in a sales role you will not be intrinsically motivated to perform the tasks and behaviours of that role and we all know that extrinsic motivation is hit and miss at best.

So before we start training you on the skills to perform that role or reshaping your environment to help you with that role, we first need to make you comfortable with your role selling professional services.

And I will tell you right now that many of you will never achieve an appropriate level of comfort within a sales role and that is OK. Better to recognize your weaknesses and move on than to pretend that it will somehow all work out.

But let’s see if we can help increase your comfort in a sales role with this exercise.

1. Shift Gears From Seller to Buyer

For this exercise you must adopt the persona of a corporate procurement professional.

2. Find An RFP For Your Services

Find an RFP that you have previously responded to (or one that you chose not to respond to) and go to the evaluation section.

3. Answer The Following Two Questions

– If you were asked to rewrite the evaluation criteria what would you change?
– What other advice would you give to a corporate procurement person using this RFP in order to improve (i) the selection process and (ii) the likelihood of selecting the best vendor?

4. Sit Back and Think About What You Have Just Done

You just helped a potential client to buy your services but without the potential uneasiness of trying to get them to buy from you.

This is what it feels like to be comfortable when selling professional services.

The Advantages of An Advising Approach to Selling Professional Services

Take a quick inventory of your emotions as you went through the exercise and check all those that apply to your experience.

–        You felt confident

–        The “discussion” felt familiar

–        You were acting for the best interests of the client

–        You were the expert in the relationship

–        You had nothing to lose because you weren’t worried about winning

That last point is the most critical lesson from this exercise.

When you stop worrying about winning and start focusing on providing good advice the “discussion” around buying and selling your services becomes comfortable.

In order for you to become more comfortable at selling your services focus on helping a potential client to find the best vendor for their project – whether that is your firm or some other firm.

The candor and confidence that an unbiased “advising” sales approach provides you will be rewarded by the trust and integrity that your potential clients assign to you – a significant advantage when they are making a decision about which firm to hire.

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The Consultant with Pink Hair

"This should be required reading for consultants AND their clients - especially the part about RFPs." - Blair Enns, Win Without Pitching

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