Have you noticed how a label begets behaviours? Children get labelled naughty. Adults difficult. Dogs dangerous.
And because humans have a tendency to generalise things (see I’m doing that now) the child is seen as always naughty, the adult as intractably difficult, and of course all dogs are dangerous.
As you know for many consultants (see I’m generalising again) selling is one of those labels. Think about the words and phrases used to describe selling. Hard work. Dirty. Unpleasant. Embarrassing. Whoring myself. Necessary evil. Pushy. The list goes on.
These words affect our view of business development. That in turn affects our attitude toward selling, which in turn impacts our behaviour.
But, selling is a vital part of an independent consultancy business. Unless you can sell you won’t thrive and grow as a consultant. You simply won’t get interesting projects with desirable clients.
And it’s not just the selling skills set. The skills required for selling are already close to those you have as a good consultant. Listening, asking piercing questions, presenting a point of view, aligning a solution with problems.
No, skill set is never the problem when it comes to consultants learning to sell.
So, what’s the real issue?
Even when we have all the right skills identity … in the form of self-image and attitude … in the form of self-talk … both have a dramatic impact on the actions we’re prepared to take.
Do you see yourself as a business developer, or is that someone else’s job?
Do you value the sales process, or is it a chore?
How you answer these two questions tells me nearly everything I need to know about your sales success, ability to reach out to clients, pricing strategies etc.
Here’s an email I received this week:
What happens when we change our view of selling to be consultancy like?
Do you struggle with qualification and closing deals? Instead try facilitating the buying decision instead.
Do you find yourself pushing your services and solution? Instead try offering a point of view and diagnosing the client’s issues in that context.
Try these on for size. You’ll find yourself thinking about things differently and acting on sales opportunities differently too.
In my experience these subtle shifts align sales activities with your identity as a consultant. They can make a huge impact and you’ll start feeling a positive change in your attitude toward sales.
That’s what I do when I teach consultants how to sell. That’s the magic. Changes in attitude come when we change how we do things and change how we view things.
Only then can we turn business development into a fun and challenging game, with rules and goals that you understand.
The bottom line:
Get real: Selling isn’t just a skill set. It’s an attitude.
Get prepared: Notice the limiting words and phrases you associate with selling.
Get savvy: Understand the rules of the sale game and make it a fun experience.
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