The word “Consulting” has become just as eyeball rolling to business leaders as the word “sales” and the joke is that if you are not part of the solution, there is money in perpetuating the problem. Not having the right expertise to work within your organization to make the necessary changes properly has the same effect as not being able to complete a project before you start another one. It is the same problem that new employees experience after 18 month of employment…..They get caught up in the minutia of everyday business and eventually become part of the problem.
Companies have downsized their management and senior knowledge holders, lost their internal expertise, and the employees that have survived are so multitasked that nothing is able to be improved because no single individual is able to focus long enough on the task at hand.
A good “consultant” is able to work with their client to help identify a problem, develop and plan to fix the problem, use internal resources efficiently to integrate the necessary changes, and then leaves the client with a sustainable solution.
In a conversation at lunch with my first client that is still a client, we started to talk about all of the ongoing projects in the company outside the scope of my delivery and what is keeping them for accomplishing them.
I discovered that my client falls into the classic seven-eigthers group that most companies become part of when they cannot complete even one project before the next idea and direction comes from the top. Hence they only get 7/8 of the projects completed and then are surprised when there are still in the same position they were two years ago. Their agility and ability to move forward is non-existent.
Ever been told to finish what you start? FIFO is an accounting term for First-In-First-Out and if you apply that same principle to project management then every new good idea would see success because it would be placed at the bottom of the pile before it would be addressed. A simple practice that if re-purposed would help companies maintain their agility in the market place.
I am proud to report that all projects managed by me as it pertains to building their sales engine have been completed on schedule and the client is currently experiencing an increase of 38% in revenues over the same period last year.
A mentor recently reminded me that the word “sales” is not always perceived well when used in a conversation. It is unfortunate but true because some “sales people” have ruined the reputation of all of us through non-standard practices that are remembered and shared with others. Even those companies and employees that I coach have trouble being called “sales people” even though what they do does have an impact on company revenues. Maybe that is why most businesses do not even print the word “sales” on business cards.
The primary duties of anyone in the business development field is to create opportunties for their company by finding a need in the marketplace and filling that need the products or services that their company offers. How do you do that without being “sales’ like? I would offer that the activities that you do have an impact on how you are perceived and that some of the best sales people I have know have never been described to me as “sales people”.
What do these people do differently that leads to increased opportunities for their companies?
- Perform strategic business reviews with current clients that helps them understand how you have added value to their business and what other services you offer
- Conduct lunch-n-learn sessions for account managers in other companies that can refer you to opportunities in their client base.
- Schedule breakfast and lunch meetings with centers of influence that are secondary stakeholders in targeted companies you want to work with.
- Focus your free time and champion a non-profit by volunteering your services to help with their fund development.
- Ask current clients for referrals.
- Introduce your clients to prospects, strategic partners, and other service providers that help them grow and improve their business.
- Make sure all of your family and friends know what you do.
Working any of these tactics into your activity calendar will help you increase your opportunities without the traditional sales tactics that are taught in videos and highlighted in the movies.
It has become quite apparent lately that employees in non-traditional selling roles are being asked to help create more opportunities for their organizations. Attorneys, specialized consultants, sales support personnel, engineers, bankers, and traditional account managers, executive directors, and even board members are all attending meetings and being given new “selling” tasks…usually with a reply like “If I wanted to be in sales, I would have applied for it!”
Downsizing, budgets cuts, shrinking margins, shrinking markets, and changes in client buying behavior, and increased costs are finally leading organizations to realize that they have to pick up the phone, they have to go knock on doors, and they have to go out and build relationships in the community…..and guess what, there is no budget to hire someone specifically for “sales”.
Sales is not a dirty word
The stereotypical image of a used-car salesman is that he is a pushy, arrogant, egotistical deal maker, and a bad dresser, to boot. Good sales experts are just the opposite of this clumsy, thoughtless, ugly stereotype. Think of a time when you left a selling interaction and thought to yourself, “That was a really good salesperson.” The positive attributes are universal:
• They listened
• Asked good questions
• Cared about me
• Gave me options to think about
• Was interested and genuine
Are these not the traits that we would all like to have and be known for?
Selling is not winning a deal at any cost, it’s being realistic
Selling is about doing what is best for the customer. It is always about creating measurable business results for the client. If you can’t help your clients with their business, you shouldn’t be doing business with them. Be willing to walk away from situations that aren’t right, and when you may not be the right fit for the client be willing to offer a referral to someone who has the expertise you don’t.
Sales success is about building and leveraging your relationships
You know lots of people from many different areas of your life. Consider your community groups, hobbies, volunteer organizations, sports, service providers, family, neighbors, and friends. The list goes on and on. Companies are asking you to leverage these relationships by finding out who these people know, what their network is, and who they might know that would be interested in what your company does.
You’re not asking your contacts to do business with you. You want to know whom they know and how and when they can refer you to opportunities in the market place. People are actually very delighted to help when they are asked.
Do not look at it as “selling”, look at it as creating opportunities
Several clients tell me they don’t “sell”, and we can’t use the word “sales” in our discussions. I agree! Look at it as creating opportunities for the organization that were not there before and you are accomplishing that by simply talking to people you know about what you do. Good salespeople are authentic and genuine and when you are sincere, care about your clients, and ask your contacts who they know, you are helping your organization grow.
Are you willing to help your organization grow?
What does you organization support and how have you integrated that into your marketing?
With 75% of soldiers returning home have some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They are truly returning home broken after bravely volunteering and serving our country out of a sense of duty. Until now, there has not been a location dedicated to veterans connecting and supporting each other in our community which is why SalesTechnik has joined forces with DryHootch of Waukesha County to raise enough funds to build a permanent location.
Having experienced what the lack of support can have on our returning soldiers, I decided to purpose my own sense of duty to improve things and help companies focus with their selling efforts if they make a donation to the organization. You can learn about our offering here.
It is called “Cause Marketing” and I would suggest that every company discovers the “why” in them and finds an organization to align with. This alignment has increased awareness for DryHootch of Waukesha County in the business community and has increased awareness for what SalesTechnik can do for individuals, organizations, and companies. We have developed a sustainable revenue source for this cause and without much energy, built a pipeline of clients that share similar values, extreme gratitude, and concern for our returning soldiers.
With charitable donations at an all time low, this tactic should be integrated into every marketing plan. It has led to a much higher level of conversation with business leaders, gives a risk free and tax-deductible introduction to our services, and has helped individuals, organizations, and companies develop a high level focus on increasing their opportunities in the market place.
Feel free to contact me should you want to learn more about what we are doing to build a DryHootch in Waukesha County.