After over ten years of working with professionals, such as accountants, lawyers and consultants, I know that there is an almost universal fear of selling. After all, how many accountants, lawyers or consultants woke up in their teens and decided they wanted to sell for a living?

Many professionals will do anything to avoid having to sell. That is why so many accountancy firms spend thousands of pounds each year on the services of a telemarketer.  Regardless of whether you are reading this article to help you feel better about selling or to help your team become more attuned to new business opportunities, we are all ‘selling’ in our day job.

Let’s look at some of the key reasons why professionals hate selling, and remedies to these problems:

1. Takes them away from client work

How many times  have I heard the phrase… ‘I didn’t spend three years training to become a xxxx, just to end up selling’. Selling is always someone else’s job… the partner, the firm’s rainmaker, the marketing department. They just want to focus on actually doing the client work.

Golden rule: Instil in new recruits the notion (& expectation) that their role is both to do the client work, but help generate more client work. Do set business development related targets or objectives for all your fee earners; even trainees.

2. Don’t see themselves as a sales person

This is really linked to the 1st reason why people hate selling. If I had a pound for everyone who said in a sales skills session – but I’m not a natural sales person, I would be a very rich person indeed. I actually wonder whether there is such a thing as a ‘natural sales person’. My stance is that selling is a skill, like walking, double-entry book keeping and drafting which can be learnt by everyone and anyone. Some people are better ‘hunters’ (finding new business from new clients) and some better ‘farmers’ (attracting new business from existing clients)

Click here to download our free ebook "The reluctant business developer's guide to winning clients". (email required)

Most people in a professional services firm are selling all the time. Whether it is influencing a client to accept a different deadline, convincing a partner that a member of staff would be better utilised on another project or actually selling services, most people in a firm are selling day in day out. However, most of us don’t see it that way.

Golden rule: Encourage your staff to play to their strengths – let the hunters chase down new clients and opportunities, and give the farmers roles, e.g. account management or relationship partner, where they can create the conditions where existing clients come to them with new work.

3. Poor or negative perceptions of selling

When I ask you to think about someone who sells for a living, I’m guessing the image and stereotypes which come to mind are not positive. Used car sales person? Pushy door to door sales person? When you are asking someone at the age of 12 what they want to be when they grow up, they don’t normally say “I want to be a sales person”.

I have spent the last 9 months running a ‘Go-To Expert’ programme for a IT consultancy. Interestingly, the easiest way to help a ‘don’t want to learn to sell’ person is to help them see that they are not selling, they are helping their clients to want to buy from them. After all, if you get your marketing right, then you will need to do little or no selling. Seriously. The best marketing – which is often done by the individual not the firm – enables a client to turn up ready to buy, literally pre-sold.

Golden rule: Encourage your fee earners to think about encouraging their clients to buy, rather than selling to them.

4. Don’t know how to

You want your staff (& partners) to be able to sell. But, how many of them have you actually trained in selling skills? Or do you just expect your team to be able to pick up the ability to sell by observation and osmosis. It rarely happens that way. Particularly if the staff member has a strong personal objection for learning to or wanting to be able to sell.

One of the biggest reasons that people hate selling is they lack confidence and don’t know what they are doing. For example, when or how should I close? How do I pre-qualify a prospect?

Golden rule: Train your staff how to sell!

5. Looking stupid or getting it wrong

Take a population of people with a high IQ and the last thing they want to do is look stupid. Unfortunately there are a myriad of things that can go wrong in the selling situation and it is easy to get it wrong and look stupid or getting it wrong with a good prospect.

Golden rule: Encourage your staff to review a sales meeting – and if it didn’t go well, encourage them out into the fray as soon as possible.

6. Fear of rejection

Everyone who has had a sales conversation has experienced rejection or had an experience that they would prefer to forget. This, often irrational fear, that history will repeat itself is a reason why professionals often hate selling.

Golden rule: Encourage your staff to review a sales meeting – and if it didn’t go well, encourage them out into the fray as soon as possible.

What’s your experiences with why people hate selling?

Click here to download our free ebook "The reluctant business developer's guide to winning clients". (email required)

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