In this blog post by Jon Baker, co-author of The Go-To Expert, he examines why tried and tested sales techniques normally don’t work for Accountants, Lawyers, Consultants and other professionals. This is why so many professionals find professional services business development so tough. 

Ask any professional why they went into their chosen profession, and I bet every single one of them would not say “because they wanted to become a salesperson”. After all, most professionals I know hates the thought selling, would be horrified to think they have anything in common with a second-hand car salesman, and hates the idea of sounding “salesy”. Consequently, many professionals miss out on sales opportunities which could be right under their noses, or the opposite happens and they may even sound more “salesy”!

If you, like most Accountants, Lawyers and Consultants hate sales techniques, struggle with business development within professional services, and want to sell more whilst seeming human, approachable and likeable, then read on…

Why do professionals so often sound salesy?

The pressure to do something you don’t like doing can mean those needing to build their own client portfolio avoid being in a selling situation (unless they are being actively chased by the potential client). Then, faced with a need to increase their client portfolio, they listen to/read about sales techniques or clever questions.

The result, for many, is that their humanity gets subsumed and clever questions take over. Resulting in a more salesy conversation! Good rainmakers have regular work-winning discussions by connecting with potential clients and introducers as a human being. As a result they seem to have the magical touch and bring in and convert more clients as a result.

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

The sales script

Many professionals when doing business development with prospects use some form of script. There is nothing wrong with a script, it just depends on how it is . A script is a framework, allowing you to be flexible, yet ensuring you ask the important things. For example, what are the:

  • most common questions your prospects have, even though they don’t realise they have them?
  • things your clients wanted to ask before signing up, but didn’t feel confident enough to ask?

Damned if you do and damned if you don’t

If you use a sales script, you run the risk of sounding pre-planned, salesy and not authentic.
If you don’t use a script, you run the risk of missing out on vital information. Often good questions help clinch the deal.
I’m sure you have seen fellow professionals (if not yourself) fall into one of these traps. What’s to be done?

Being authentic

I hate being told to “be authentic”, it’s become a buzzword lately, without clear meaning.
If it’s anything, it’s about being human, being yourself and opening up some a of your personality to the other potential client. That may sound uncomfortable, but it’s something most buyers crave.

A recent shopping experience

I was helping a friend buy some jewellery, and went into five shops. Each time, they asked what they should be looking out for.

They got asked some (technically) very good questions (taste, styles, uses and price range). Some imparted useful knowledge (buyers like to feel they’ve learned something useful). Sometimes “the close” was good, sometimes not – but in each case we turned them down and despondently left the store.

They learned great information and saw a great range of rings – but hadn’t really been treated as a human beings.

I’ve seen similar happen to buyers of professional services, haven’t you?

What’s your natural reaction?

Forget trying to sell for a moment, think about your friends. What’s your natural reaction, if somebody told you:

  • they were about to get engaged
  • they’re about to get divorced
  • they’re about to start a new company, won a new contract…
  • they have a financial problem, need legal help over an issue, has just had a fantastic year and wants to invest the proceeds carefully….

I suspect that you’d react with congratulations, or relevant commiseration statement.  That statement (and meaning it) helps you be human and make a connection.

Couple holding hands, is being human a sales technique?In the last shop, the first words my friend received on saying they were looking for an engagement ring were “congratulations”. How do you think they felt? The rest of the sales script felt warm and helpful, rather than fake and scripted.

What can you do to show some humanity and help your potential clients see you are human?

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

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