My understanding of “Sales” has been much more clearly honed since I became a consultant. By definition you’re always selling yourself, as well as your services or products. This is critical, and sometimes difficult to remember.
I was reminded of this today when coaching a client who is also a consultant. He has made an agreement to do introductions for a company who will then actually sell and implement the work. He’s responsible for the initial contact and for high-level maintenance on the accounts. (Some might even call this “business development.”) My client was uncomfortable, since he is going to start calling old work acquaintances to ask for 15 minutes of their time to start the process. When we explored his discomfort, he realized that he has some negative association with sales. He also wanted to make sure that he wasn’t compromising his own integrity by selling services to people who don’t need them.
He was having challenges in “opening” and also worries about “closing” the sales.
After talking it through, we concluded that :
A) The people he was calling are the right people to buy this service;
B) The service is better and more efficient than what they’re using now;
C) He will be bringing significant value to his old contacts by showing them what his new partners have, and finally:
D) He can generate even stronger and more positive relationships from making these people happy.
So, it’s worth opening the discussions. And, the way his deal is set up, his partners have to ‘close.’
Wow. My client is helping his old friends meet some new friends, who have a better product that will save the old friends time and even money. That’s a lot different than ‘selling them.’ There’s a clear benefit on both sides, and he’s not compromising his integrity.
Selling is often a tough part of any new business venture. Not everyone is comfortable with all steps of a sales process. But it is clearly part of every Entrepreneur’s skill requirement set. Even if a startup hires someone to sell, the ultimate responsibility to get money in the door is with the founder(s). So, maybe it is time to reconsider what “sales” means to you. If you’ve got something that will make people’s lives easier, or their work easier or faster or cheaper, maybe NOT selling it to them is wrong thing.