Are you a top-tier accountant, a legal maestro, or a creative genius running your own agency? If you’re nodding your head, keep reading because this is for you.
The Love-Hate Relationship with Sales
In firms like yours, the doers are also the sellers. You’re not just the senior partner or the head of the engineering team; you’re also the person clients meet for sales pitches. Sounds familiar?
You’ve devoted years to becoming an expert at what you do. Yet, despite your mastery, there’s one part of your job you probably loathe: selling. Most experts view sales as a necessary but unpleasant chore that keeps them from doing what they truly love. It’s a necessary evil… a distasteful part of the job you have to do so you can get back to tax work or litigation or making websites.
Sales Isn’t What You Think
Admit it. You cringe a little when someone labels you a “salesperson.” The term conjures images of sleazy tactics and manipulative pitches. Trying to talk somebody into something. Trying to get somebody to do something counter to their own interest. But here’s the truth: Real selling isn’t about manipulation; it’s about service. Let me repeat that: Selling is about service.
My definition of sales is making the right information available to people so that they can make a prudent decision for themselves and their business. That’s it. And they will decide yes, or they will decide no, and either one is fine.
It’s not about persuading them to say ‘yes’; it’s about helping them decide whether ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is right for them.
Why Do We Get Weird About Sales?
Creatives and attorneys and accountants and engineers like you can get very weird about selling. You overthink it. You start feeling pushy or salesy or awkward. Your discomfort can affect the whole client conversation, even derail it.
You stammer out a price, or you are so uncomfortable that you’d rather just email the customer a quote than to actually tell them what it costs in the meeting. You have your proverbial hat in hand, acting apologetic or sheepish or fearful or embarrassed or even ashamed to have to ask for money for your craft.
The Beggar Versus the Trusted Advisor
When you operate in this sheepish, fearful way during the sales process, you risk no longer being seen as a trusted advisor deserving of a substantial fee. You convey a posture of a beggar and not a trusted adviser.
Why is so especially damaging in professional services? What you’re fundamentally doing as a professional service firm is asking someone to pay you a boatload of money for your expertise. In other words, because you are an expert, they should pay you.
But when you present yourself weakly in the sales process, it does not inspire confidence that they should pay you a boatload of money for your expertise. You’re actually working against the trust in you as a trusted adviser as an expert. Present yourself as a partner in their success, not a beggar at their table.