I’m amazed when consultants tell me that they don’t like (or want) to sell. Some seem to think that the whole sales thing is completely beneath them. Then there are others who believe that they aren’t any good at selling. My reaction to both views is, you’re kidding, right?
For the reluctant seller (and there are fewer of them than some people think), I have one question: If you don’t like selling, how much do you loathe your work as a consultant?
I could understand resistance to selling if your job was to cold call people at dinner time and use high-pressure sales tactics to convert them to a new cell phone plan.
But your job is to help clients bring about change. You usually have to do that in an unfamiliar environment, working under tight deadlines, and facing resistance from the very people who need to change.
To overcome those odds, you spend a lot of time selling ideas and proposed actions to those who don’t want to change–or worse, to those who are indifferent. No matter how good an idea is, or how receptive clients are to it, you have to sell it.
The point is that if you can’t sell your ideas to others, your projects (and career) will hit the rocks. The simple reality is that to sell your services, you must be great at selling ideas. And many consultants do that exceptionally well.
Sometimes we already have the answers to our toughest problems, and don’t even know it. For consultants, the answer to the sales challenge is not so much about the mastery of specific sales techniques, useful as they may be.
If you feel that you need to improve as a seller, you don’t have to look very far for clues on how to do that. Just think about the selling (and re-selling) you do in your work with clients to make change happen in their organizations.
And if you really don’t like to sell, you’re probably not satisfied being a consultant either.