Some stern words to intelligent consultants who sell

Pay-off: avoid the biggest roadblock faced by consultants who sell

Investment: 3 minutes

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Results are obtained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems – Peter F. Drucker

This is a message for intelligent consultants who contribute to sales or business development:

You’re smart, I know.

You’re proud of your track record of getting things right, and solving problems.

You’re great at putting your mind to the task in hand and you work hard.

So why then, did you recently hear that an old colleague, friend or peer of yours just ‘made it’ when you’ve still got your head down working on a ‘solution’?

Come on, let’s have it out; they broke the rules didn’t they? They looked up from what they were doing and saw an opportunity, arranged a conversation or two, and nailed it.

Smart people often inadvertently make life harder

I work with smart people all the time who contribute to sales or business development in their organisations. Too often they tell me they’re confident and good at it. But when I look closer, I see them frequently trying to ‘sell’ or convince the client to do one specific thing. They think their job is to try to sell that. Twice a year, it works. But then, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

It’s why so many of them wrongly think that by knowing and understanding their offerings better, they’ll be better at selling them. They won’t. See the quote at the top. What they need to know is what an immediate relevant opportunity looks like from their customer’s perspective.

When you’re up to your eye-balls deep in your offerings, (or even when you’re trying to be, because it’s easy, delays the harder stuff, and appears to give you confidence whilst you’re sitting safe) you’re at the other end of the scale of being able to spot meaningful, valuable, pain-based opportunities.

You’re looking deep into your world, not their world. And the decision comes from their world. No one likes a smart-arse. No one likes anyone who tries to engage them by being all about themselves. You know that. You want to win them over, but to them, you look very interested in how great you are. Do you not realise this?

But if you got over yourself, and gave yourself up to them, you might just be able to get to the bottom of their very real pain-based problems. You could become the white knight they didn’t know they needed.

You know the person (a friend or family, perhaps) who visited the doctor with a minor concern and the doc spotted something far more severe. The doctor diagnosed and spotted an opportunity to add value there, even though it wasn’t what the ‘customer’ was there for. And discovering pain-based opportunity is not difficult to sell a solution to. Selling becomes easier than you thought.

My message to anyone reading this

You’re smart. But there’s room to smarten up. Immersing your time in your offerings will instantly make you short-sighted. And you’ll have to work so much harder than you think to consistently sell these in.

“Thwack, thwack, thwack”. That’s the noise I frequently hear when I walk through open-plan offices of intelligent consultants. It’s the noise of a smart head repeatedly banging against a wall. (Usually followed by “thwack, thwack, thwack” coming from the bosses office when they hear what happened.)

What’s much smarter, harder to admit to and get yourself to do, but easier to close a high-value deal once you’ve done it, is to immerse yourself in your customers’ world. Keep digging, intelligently. Show more interest and curiosity in that than in your own offering. (Hey, it might just trigger some career-changing innovation on your part?)

Learn, explore, diagnose, and make damn sure you have your eyes open for the pain-based opportunities behind the one you’re talking to them about. Repeat until everyone’s sweating.

Freelancers and individuals who need to sell

Serious about finding an easier more effective way to sell when sales isn’t really your thing? Start with my free e-course here. It’s 10 small steps that will help you pull a sales plan together that will fit you and your personal styles and get the wheels turning to more clients.

Organisations who want their non-sales teams to create opportunities

You might want to check out my site here: where I provide training, coaching and consulting to help your non-sales teams develop business more confidently and effectively.

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