How Badly Does Your Staff Hate Selling?

A few years back I was approached by a large professional services firm to do some training for their engineers to get them to contribute to the firms selling and marketing efforts.

As a starting point I always ask the question “What’s the biggest issue we need to address here (to get them to contribute to business development)?”

I know all the possible answers (there are only four) but what I’m really doing is testing the expectations of the client. The answers are always some version of the following…

– They don’t know what to do
– They don’t know how to do it
– They don’t know they are expected to do it
– They don’t want to do it

On this occasion the executive that hired me had a great response solidly identifying motivation as the issue.

As he so eloquently put it…”Cal, these guys are engineers. They’d rather chew off their own right arm than have anything to do with sales…”

(Those are the toughest crowds…the ones that would perform their own amputations just to avoid some sales training.)

So how do you address the motivation issue – because it’s actually the most common problem.

Here’s one way I address it.

Selling Is A Process

As an organization you need to make sure you have a clearly defined corporate business development process that includes everything from lead generation, to nurturing, to closing, along with the care and maintenance of that overall process.

Instead of trying to make all your staff become sales experts, focus on finding what types of activities that support the overall process, that each individual might be comfortable performing.

So for example instead of trying to get new leads from forcing your engineers to cold call (guaranteed to facilitate immediate arm-chewing), focus on having them (i) understand that identifying leads is their responsibility (ii) understand what a lead looks like and (iii) what to do (or who to speak to) when they identify one.

Some argue that selling is not everyone’s responsibility and I agree with that blanket statement.

However, everyone can contribute to the business development process – the trick is to find a way that is comfortable for them to do so.

This is just one of the things we’ll cover in our next Beyond Referrals Peer Forum starting June 7th at The Manitoba Club. For details on the curriculum and how you might access government funding to pay for 85% of the cost visit us at Beyond Referrals Peer Forum.


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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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