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#548: Selling is Just as Much a Skill as Consulting

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, April 20, 2011
My most enjoyable days are when I am heads down in a consulting engagement, working with the client and my colleagues solving a tough problem. But days I have to generate business are among the worst. Help!

First of all, you are not alone. Consultants often say that they like consulting better than selling. However, you need to get clients to be able to help them. And, the selling skill-attitude cycle is a hard one to break.

We like certain things, so we spend more time on them and, in turn, get better at them, further increasing our enjoyment. Things we don't like get less attention in our reading, are the subject of fewer discussions with our colleagues and receive less of our education budget. Assuming you are not going to pay someone to develop business for you, you'll need to tackle this head on.

Selling is a profession just like consulting. There is a body of knowledge, best practices, professional associations, and recognized certification. Just as you would reserve judgment on someone who said they are a consultant without any experience or continuing professional development, you should also question your own skills in sales unless you actively developed and enhanced your selling skills.

Consider developing a personal consulting selling skills education plan. It could include conferences and webinars like those offered through IMC USA, companies that focus on marketing and selling professional services like RainToday or a professional association, like the United Professional Sales Association. Use these resources to better understand why selling (intangible) professional services differ from selling physical products.

Tip: Recognize that you will need selling skills, but also that it is the attitude you bring to sales activities that determines whether you will engage on a lifelong process of improving your selling ability. The attitudes that make a great consultant and a great sales person are different. This is why, as good as you might be at both of these activities, switching between them on a day to day basis creates dissonance for most of us. One way reduce this impact is to consciously recognize that you are leaving consulting mode and moving to selling mode, and vice versa. Another is to switch back and forth less frequently (e.g., plan on certain days for marketing and selling, others for consulting).

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  education  marketing  practice management  professional development  sales  your consulting practice 

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Mac MacPherson says...
Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Good post. Thank you.

Perhaps the strongest skill to master, in selling consultancy services, is listening.

There is no doubt that a clean, clear, still mind allows you to hear all sorts of things that the prospective client says, that you would otherwise be 'deaf' too.

That your internal thoughts and emotions would otherwise obscure.

And allows you to hear, what you do hear, in much more detail and nuance, including what the meaning may be for the speaker.

Including what a prospective client is, actually, saying.

Including what a prospective client is, actually, not saying.

Including what you are, actually, saying to yourself.

Regards, Mac
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