Following a great meeting with a client of mine this week, where amongst chat of rugby, motorbikes and new places to eat, we discussed why it is that so many professionals don’t like business development.
Interestingly, we both felt exactly the same way and came to the same conclusions: Good consultants are good consultants. They are technically proficient; they provide their clients with fantastic advice, great candidates and high-quality service. They work hard to solve the client’s problems. That is what they train for, and that is what they aspire to. To be excellent in their field.
So why do they shy away from sales?
What they aren’t taught and trained to do by their businesses is to sell themselves. Well, certainly not often well enough anyway. Very odd in a sales role, isn’t it?
In all my years in professional recruitment, I can’t remember a client of mine asking me for a candidate who couldn’t build and bring in new business. They all want rainmakers. I am also yet to meet a professional who doesn’t want to be a rainmaker. Our clients want them, so shouldn’t we be rainmakers ourselves?
There is a fear amongst many that if you move a conversation from small talk towards business and then sales, then you will be seen as less than professional. Dread the thought that you might be seen as salesy!
Professionals, Not Salespeople
The thinking is this: “We are professional people, we are not salespeople.” Not true. We all sell ourselves, and we do it all of the time, we just don’t think about it that way.
None of us likes to be sold to. We don’t like to be pushed, we like to collect the facts and make an informed decision. The second-hand car salesmen of the past have a lot to answer for. We don’t like to be sold to, but we all like to buy.
I believe that selling is part and parcel of a professional consultants role. Meeting potential new clients, presenting yourself well, persuading them that we are the right business partner for them, transacting their business and ultimately being paid, is all a sales cycle.
Recruitment is a sales business
We can dress up the language in whatever way we like to make it more acceptable to us. We can call it what we like, but at the end of the day, it is just sales.
Soft Sales (or consultative sales) is not about talking and endless boasting about how good you, your business or your service is. Consultative sales is about listening and understanding the needs of your client or indeed, a prospective client.
It is about formulating a sensible and cost-effective solution that the other person will want, and will want to buy from you.
For more on developing yourself, your staff and the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me on 07736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @recruitingtowin, or connect with me on LinkedIn.
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