It’s sales, but not as we know it
Download Free Handout Here! Top Ten Tips for Winning Clients
I had great fun recently working with an international firm of engineering consultants. Having survived a painful period of cuts and redundancies the firm was reviewing its strategy and had started to grow again. With less staff and a tight job market they wanted to make sure that everyone in the business shared the responsibility for winning and keeping clients. Achieving this is a challenge. In this type of company you are dealing with highly qualified staff who are already under pressure; they are mature professionals who are experts in their field. Mention the dirty word ‘sales’ and they run a mile. As one rather jaundiced Director told me – “we don’t do sales”.
Well, while growing a professional practice is not all about sales, like it or not, sales plays a big part. However, in this environment the processes behind winning business and the skills involved are different from most people’s perception of sales in the traditional sense. Crucially, customers are clients and, rather than forcing them to buy something they don’t need, we are helping clients to identify what they need and to find a solution. Otherwise known as consultative selling, here you are focused on engaging with your clients to establish a long term relationship of credibility and trust. Put this way, professionals in any practice or knowledge-intensive firm are more likely to respond positively. “Oh” they say “it’s problem-solving, that’s what we do!”
And there are some specific skills involved in consultative selling which, because you are unlikely to find all the skills in one person, requires a team effort where every individual makes a contribution. The ability to network, present, communicate effectively, research, project manage, monitor quality and problem solve are all important. The good news is that all these skills (including team building skills) can be effectively developed through coaching and training.
I hope you find the handout ‘Top Ten Tips for Winning and Keeping Clients’ helpful. My engineers did!
Jeanette has over 20 years experience in management and was Chief Executive of AMBA for 7 years. She has worked in both the commercial and public sectors. Having completed her MBA (with distinction) at the Cass Business School, Jeanette was asked to join the school's academic team as a Visiting Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour... [read more]
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