How leadership can help their consultants to sell

Pay-off: help your consultants to improve at sales

Investment: 3.5 minutes

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A question I’m often asked is, “how can I get my non-sales consultants to sell?”

The answer? By first eliminating any thinking that you’ll get them to do anything they didn’t sign up to do.

After all, would you let someone get you to do what you didn’t sign up to do for too long? We do what’s within our control to carve the path we want to pursue. And we all have valid alternative options along that path. Why would we let anyone get us to do anything that’s not in alignment with our plans or desires?

Option 1: Do nothing.

Does this mean that consultants who are the face of our businesses, and potentially a ‘white knight’ to the clients in front of them (representing your small army) should be left to operate only within their comfort zones and engage clients their way?

Should we accept that it’s ok that they turn away from activity that, when done right, is not only rewarding for both yours and your client’s business but is also potentially rewarding for the consultant and buyer’s career?

Do we just accept the trajectory that our businesses are currently on?

Or do we take charge and change that trajectory? By helping our consultants to do the right thing for our clients, our businesses (and for their own career, if they’re serious about it).

Blocking growth

I would argue that a consultant who can’t help their clients buy their appropriate solutions to the client’s business problems when they need them (whether they have asked for the solution or not) is essentially part of the problem – despite their otherwise great work and good intentions, they’re potentially a blocker to everyone’s progress.

This consultant does not have your client’s back in the way the client likely wants. And your client will feel this. Which could have them seeking for the ‘white knight’ they really need and want.

Sales shy consultants often cling to the apparent logic of “I didn’t sign up to this”. But to me, that translates to “I didn’t sign up to improve as a consultant and serve my clients in the best way I can!” Which hopefully is nonsense. It seems that there’s a lack of understanding going on here of how consultants should be improving in their roles.

If you’re not improving, you’re falling behind. Because your competition who will eventually get the advantage are improving. They’re on the case.

Growing professional consultants

These consultants are steadily growing into high-performing consultants who maximise the transference of value by helping their clients buy solutions that help or grow their businesses. They do this skilfully-enough by engaging clients in the right conversations the right way. It’s done intelligently, respectfully and always in a client-centric value-building way. This, to me, is the mark of a professional consultant. Businesses grow when your people grow. Perhaps this resonates with you too?

And so where does this leave us in terms of “getting” our consultants to sell?

I suggest that the task in front of us is to help our consultants to buy into the idea of improving how they connect value to their clients. This requires increased awareness of the longer term rewards of doing so, and an understanding of how to do it in a way that feels comfortable enough and uses their strengths where possible.

The objective is for them to find a way to shine as they become more valuable to their clients than ever before, earning trust and respect as they do so. And to help them realise this, trusted and respected leadership must engage their consultants 1:1 in a well planned internal “consultative sale”.

It’s a leadership constraint

As I see it, the “my consultants won’t sell” problem is at first a leadership problem.

Leadership are either consistently and effectively leading the improvement of high-value “client-developing” behaviours, or they are not.

And if they are not, the resulting pressure could lead to frustration, finger-pointing, self-defense (let’s hope just verbal?) and trying to ‘get’ their consultants to sell – something I have seen many times.

This is not to blame anyone for this, it’s often circumstantial or related to where the business is at right now. My point is that we need to solve the problem by starting at the leadership level, not by just providing ‘training’ to the consultants. Wherever you’re at with this, there’s nothing to stop us making the next move correctly.

A provocative but hopefully useful question to leadership

It raises the question, why should your non-sales consultants sell if you haven’t successfully sold to them the idea of doing so? (Or in alignment with my main message, “why should they help your clients to buy, if you haven’t helped them to buy into the idea of doing so?”) I appreciate fully that this is not easy, and for many it’s simply because you haven’t needed or decided to until now.

But my suggestion is to start right here.

Help your leaders to buy-in and align intentions and messaging around this. Help your leaders buy into the idea of co-operating here and influencing the right behaviours. They’ll need to make this consultative ‘sale’ to their consultants in a way that’s comfortable and inspiring enough for all. And they’ll need to be consistent with their messaging and their own actions. (I can help them prepare for this if you want help). Help them to help their teams to want to develop in this way as consultants, and then provide them with the tools, training and ongoing support to accelerate their progress.

And if leadership wants the right outcome but doesn’t make the time to do this, it’s a stalemate. Leaving your business to it’s natural trajectory.

“How does one lead free men? By being better than they. By being better and thus commanding their emulation.”

– Steven Pressfield, The Tides of War

Tools to help

My free ebook here may also help you inspire your non-sales team to sell.

And my BD capability self-assessment can help you understand your people’s drivers and capabilities better in order to help them buy into the idea of improving in this area.

Do you or your leadership want help to address this?

If you want help, I can support your leadership with some planning, training, practice and coaching to tackle this, and once your consultants are keen to learn to improve BD capabilities I can help you create an accelerated programme to help them get measurable results. See my main site here of contact me here.


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