🎙️Show Notes for Episode 025 - 3 Sales Strategies for Consultants Who Hate SellingSep 01, 2021
But selling is a necessary part of building an impactful consulting business. As an IC, selling is a part of the job. And, if you're hung up on sales being “bad”, it's going to hinder your profitability and success.
And so on this episode, I'm sharing some strategies that you can use to sell like a pro, even if you hate sales:
[03:36] The root causes behind “hating” sales (they’re not what you might think)
[10:35] Sales Strategy #1
[15:35] Sales Strategy #2
[20:39] Sales Strategy #3
And here’s the table I referenced in Strategy #1 for you:
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**note: This is an automated transcript, so please ignore spelling errors and grammar mistakes*
Welcome to the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. I'm Melisa Liberman, a fellow IC and business coach. On this podcast, I teach you to become a consistently booked independent consultant without becoming
a pushy salesperson or working 24/7. If I can do it, you can too. Listen on to find out how. Welcome back to the podcast. Today we're on episode number 25. A milestone. So excited. Today we're going to talk about the three sales strategies for independent consultants who hate selling. So this is for you, if you hate selling, you're just straight-up hate selling, that's very clear. Or if you think you're bad at selling, or if you think sales are sleazy, or if you don't really even hate sales, but you want to improve your close rates and what you're paid. So pretty much if you're an independent consultant, you probably fit into one of those buckets. And today's episode is definitely for you. Because sales along with lead generation are the number two top challenges that I hear day in and day out that are preventing you as an independent consultant, and others like you from reaching your business goals, the impact that you want to make the income that you want to make the independence that you want to have. And we focus a lot on lead gen in this podcast, but not so much on sales. So for this 25th episode, I really want to dive into the selling aspect of being an independent consultant and help you with those three strategies. So that it doesn't feel like such an uphill climb for you. All right. And just to level set us here, we have been over the last several episodes going over what I call the double method, which is a framework that I've created for myself over the last nine years as well as for my clients to help them and independent consultants like you double their revenue without working more. That is the purpose of this framework. So double stands for six different steps in a process. And today we're on the fifth step out of six, which is the L leveraging your existing consulting skills to sell. So if you've missed those first few components of the double method, you can go check out episodes 21 through 24 for those first few parts, but this is standalone, so there's no reason to listen to those first, you can stick with me here, and then go back and check those out afterward. All right, but I want to make sure that I can help you get to the place where you are able to increase your income without working more. And this is such an important component of that strategy. Selling is the livelihood here of our business, right. So with that, I'm going to focus on going through the three strategies with you, helping you understand what they are and how to apply them. And some examples of what they look like. And then we're going to talk at the end about how to implement this for you, and take it away and put it into action. And then also don't miss the ending, because I have an exciting event to share with you. So stay tuned for that also a little bit of a sneak peek. All right. So let's start off with Why do you hate selling in the first place? And this really helps us to inform strategy number one in particular. So I want to start off with this. Why do you hate selling? Ask yourself why do you hate selling? If you do, what is your feeling about selling? Do you hate it? Do you just dislike it? indifference. do love it. Whatever it is, let's just assume you hate it because that's why you're here listening to this episode. The three main reasons that I find that people hate selling our number one first and foremost, they think they're bad at it. We don't like things that we're bad at. We think we're bad at right.
We think we're missing some personality or genetic component that kind of keeps we stuck being bad at it. I hear this all the time, right? Well, I'm introverted, so I can't be good at sales. Well, that's not true. I know plenty of people who are introverted. I'm introverted myself. I'm speaking to a microphone right now. There are no people in the room, right? If you're introverted, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're bad at selling. If you got no one in your family who's ever sold anything, it doesn't mean that you're missing a genetic component that then prevents you from being good at sales in the future, right. So then Number one reason why people think they're bad at sales, or that they hate selling is that they think they're bad at it. So it just kind of shuts us down, right? There's really no such thing as a sales personality or a genetic sales personality. But what people that fit into this camp as we all know them, right? People who are very good at selling, seem like they came out of the womb being really good at selling the people that you think of when I say that to you that I think of what I say that those are the people who have a very effective sales mindset. And I'm going to go into describing to you what I mean by that in a minute. But for a lot of them, they were exposed to it growing up wasn't because of their genes, it was because of the way that their family members who they, you know, saw every day, thought about sales. And so they took on that mindset, and belief system about selling and their capability to sell. That's the difference. It's not a personality or a genetic thing. It's about what kind of thought processes you have about sales? And where did those come from? You got a head start if they came from people in your family growing up, you got a head start if it's something that you've been exposed to during your career. But it doesn't mean if you're right now thinking you're bad at sales, you can't rebuild that mindset into an effective sales mindset or set of thought processes. And I'm going to walk you through what that looks like here in a minute. The second reason that people hate selling that I find so common, is they have had some kind of bad experience in the past. You know, you're a consultant, right? Most of us as consultants have had a situation or many of them where the salespeople embellish, oversold, they exaggerated. Maybe they even lied, they got a deal. They handed it to us to go implement it
or operationalize it. And we're left holding the bag of this these bad practices. Having that bad past experience, of course, you're gonna hate selling, if that's, that's our view of what it is or what it has to be. Or maybe you've had a bad experience being sold something where it felt pressure like they were not taking no for an answer whatever it is, right. And so it ends up creating this dynamic for you, that you feel like you have to choose between the kind of these bad tactics, these sleazy tactics, or being bad at sales, or not closing deals. And that's not a choice that you have to make either. You don't have to choose between closing business and your integrity, you can have both. And again, it's based on how you think about selling, which is here in a minute, the number one strategy I'm going to share with you. But let me just set a little bit more context. This one's a little bit more lighthearted. But some people hate selling because they honestly think they have to choose between loving selling or loving delivery. Like as if somehow they're opposing teams. It's kind of like I used to watch football with my dad growing up. If you love the Broncos, you definitely can't love the Raiders too, right? You have to love one and hate the other one, kind of like a loyalty test. But in this case, and this one's a little bit more lighthearted, but I see it, it's fascinating. You can actually love both selling and delivery. And it doesn't make you a good person or a bad person or a good consultant or a bad consultant. You can really love both of them and have passion for both of them. Or at least stomach, you know, sales and love delivery without it having to choose between the two. So just ask yourself, Why do you hate selling? Is it because you think you're bad at it? Is it because you've had a bad past experience? Is it somehow because you think you shouldn't love selling? That you should hate selling? Because you're good at delivery? Whatever the reason is, understanding and knowing that reason, is a critical component to implementing strategy number one. And strategy number one is rebuilding your sales mindset. And using the word rebuilding sounds kind of big, but it really isn't so complicated. And I'll walk you through what I mean by this. But hopefully, based on what I've just described to you, I've cracked open the door just even a little bit for you that you don't have to hate sales, that you can choose how you think about sales, how you think about yourself, as a salesperson, and start to replace some of those negative connotations that you've got with the selling process and with your ability to be good at the selling process. And ultimately, the way that you think about your selling and sales, in general, is what drives your ultimate results. It's what drives your ability to increase your income To increase your impact and increase your independence. Because think about it the opposite way, if you think you're bad at it, you shut down, you avoid it, you rely on others to do it for you, and you never figure it out. You never build that skill. Similarly, if you think it's sleazy, you avoid it right? We all do. We think something sleazy, we're going to avoid it, versus how could I make this process? Not sleazy and close the business? That's such a much more effective mindset.
So strategy number one, and honestly, it's the only one you really need. But I'm going to give you two more just because I said I would. But strategy number one is you getting into this effective selling mental model. So what does that mean was an effective selling mental model, at the end of the day, like a very simple way to say it is that you're open to the possibility that you could be good at selling, and that sales are valuable. And you feel grounded, selling, feel grounded, thinking about selling versus pessimistic, some of us call that realistic, right? But thinking about sales in an ineffective way, or so optimistic, that is not going to drive any results, it just kind of makes you feel good. It's like getting yourself in the middle, the effective selling model is in the middle. So let me give you a couple of examples of what I mean. And we could literally talk about this for a few days. So just giving you the highlights here. But the ineffective mental model, when it comes to sales, is you thinking something like, what I just touched on, I'm someone who's bad at sales, or it's just how it is right? There's just who I am, or who I'm not. That's an ineffective way of thinking about sales and your ability to sell. On the other hand, if you look on the other end of the spectrum, having a positive or hopeful mental mindset is like, oh, I'm sure it'll all work out, it's fine. We just kind of put lipstick on the pig, right? We want to get ourselves in the middle, and effective selling mental model is in the middle of those two, it's not ineffective, and it's not positive or hopeful. It's in the middle. It's like asking yourself questions and answering them questions like, What do I already know about selling? How am I already good at selling? What component of sales Am I good at? That I can kind of build upon what's transferable that I already know, or thinking about yourself in the way of like, I'm someone who figures everything out, I can figure everything out. As a consultant, I know you can think this about yourself and really believe it, you probably think this about yourself, I'm someone who figures it out about 90% of your life. And we just need to apply that to the sales process as well. And then start figuring out what that means for you. But another example of thinking in an ineffective way is like, sales isn't authentic. And authenticity is a top value. For me. That's enough, effective, right? You just shut yourself down entirely. And you can argue for that. But it's not going to get the results that you want. Think sales aren't authentic, and authenticity is everything for me. Versus like, if you were thinking about that, in a very positive or hopeful way, it's like, oh, I'm sure there are some clients out there who I can be authentic within sales. So right, like putting this kind of positive spin on it and covering over what's really going on with your sales mindset. So again, we're trying to get ourselves into the middle of an effective selling mental model. And in order to do that, instead of thinking sales isn't authentic, you can think about this in a way of like, what do I need to be thinking about myself in any sales situation to feel authentic, or think about yourself, and create a self-identity around like, I'm someone who can be authentic and effective when I sell, you'll know people out there who are authentic, and very good at sales. I'm sure you know, one of them. Like, think about that person versus all of the ones who you know, who come to mind that lack integrity. You grounding yourself in the examples of people who have integrity and authenticity as they sell, and looking to those examples for you and how you will sell versus looking to the examples of what you don't want to be. Alright, so that is like the tip of the iceberg when it comes to selling mindset. And getting yourself out of the unproductive selling mindset like I'm bad at this or sales is sleazy. Or I can't be both good at delivery and sales. And replacing that with an effective sales mindset. And I gave you those examples, and we'll put a little chart in the show notes so that you can see it In writing as well, okay. And honestly, if you can master strategy number one, the sales mindset, you don't even need these other couples of strategies, but I'm going to give them to you anyway. Because they can be a ladder up, you know, into improving your sales mindset, or a way kind of around in the meantime, that feels like a steep climb for you to get yourself from, I'm bad at selling to, you know, I'm someone who's really good at sales and delivery. Okay, so that was strategy number one, rebuilding your sales mindset. Strategy number two is partnering with a complementary provider. So you can take the edge of the pressure off of selling by partnering with someone. Right? Like, for example, if you're a consultant who, let's say you're an implementation expert of some sort, you can partner with another consultant who runs software selection processes, and then they hand it off to you. Or let's say that you're someone who's really good at building and operationalizing. For your clients, you could partner with someone who's really good at financial modeling, and kind of blend those two things together. So ask yourself, what types of people have access to my ideal client that have already built relationships and trust with them? What types of people compliment what I do and vice versa, and then figure out how you can create some form of a partnership with them. And I'm going to give you a caveat to this here in a minute of what not to do when you take the strategy. But bear with me for a moment, I'll give you a couple of examples first. So I had a client who was running a financial software selection, and engagement for his clients. That was his specialty, he loved helping clients select software, but not really getting into the weeds of implementing it. So he partnered with another consultant who specializes in managing the implementation projects, for those types of systems. And then they would just bring each other into deals. So sometimes he would be the one finding the deals and bringing in the other consultant. And then sometimes it was the reverse. And so it cuts down the load on lead generation, it gives you teamwork. You know, as a solo entrepreneur, a lot of times you're missing that element of our business and our professional life. So you've got that teamwork of someone to bounce ideas off of, and it helps take down the pressure of selling. And then also, the potential clients benefit from, you know, you having someone that you recommend, that's an expert that you trust, and that they could therefore trust. So that's a really good example. Another really good example is I have a client who is an expert at process design and change management. And so she partnered with another consultant who specializes in helping startup companies create and execute sales strategies and processes. And so that partner would land the clients map out the high level, and then bring in my client to ensure it was executed and adopted. So that was another really good example of them complementing each other skills and ultimately benefiting their clients. I personally did this a lot when I was working as a management consultant, I have a past corporate colleague who would sell work, and then introduce me to those clients. And I would always sell my own work. But That intro was such a great shortcut for lead generation and such an authority builder as well. So hopefully, that gives you some really good examples of this strategy. Partnering with a complementary provider. The warning that I wanted to give you is, please do not use this strategy as a way of abdicating control of your sales process. You never want to just give over control of your sales process to someone else. Unless you've got a very well-oiled machine. You're very good at selling and you want to delegate it, but I just use the word abdicate on purpose, you finding a partner and just hoping they'll do it for you because you hate it is definitely not the solution I'm recommending to you err, you don't want to become dependent on someone else. You want to have an equal, you know, side of this relationship. Okay. And the other thing I want to warn you against is not overcomplicating this. When I use the word partner, sometimes we jump to the conclusion like, oh, well, I better have some kind of revenue sharing or referral fees or that kind of stuff. And my recommendation to you is like, forget all of that, at least to start with, go into this relationship with someone that you could be, you know, in a complementary type of services, and go in with an abundant mindset that there are plenty of clients for all of you. Sometimes it will make sense for you to be the only consultant for that client. Sometimes it'll make sense for them to be the only consultant for that. and sometimes it makes sense for you to work together. And it all evens out in the end, that's a way that you can approach this in a non-complicated way. And then you can build revenue sharing in overtime if it ends up making sense, but don't overcomplicate it in the beginning, just go out and test this. Alright, so go find two or three complementary providers that can share this business development load, keep it all separate, and follow that abundant mindset. And you're going to see that what you give is going to be returned in spades to you, maybe not right away, but it's like building up a bank, if you will, that that eventually will come back to you. Okay, strategy number three, I call this the client dating strategy. Okay, so what this looks like is that you get your foot in the door out of new clients, and you add value to them, you test out the waters, they test out the waters of what it's like working together, and then you expand from there. Alright, it's like dating, no commitment, no big commitment, just like casual dating to start with, right. So some examples of this are creating a discovery project, where you do an assessment for them of some sort, and you write a plan or even a statement of work for them, and you get paid for it. So it's you coming in doing an assessment, helping them lay out the plan of attack, to move forward, and you're getting paid for that. And then naturally, that helps you build relationships helps you build credibility, and then you have such a leg up on winning the next phase of business. So another example of this is a different type of assessment, like you, might go in and do some form of a health check for their organization or for a specific process that they're running and provide a report on it and get paid for that as well. Or another example is you do kind of small quick test projects I had one client who did a marketing communications plan for a client for the entire quarter, something she could really do in her sleep, but they just didn't have the bandwidth or the strategic kind of thought processes around it. She came in, it took a few hours to understand their, you know, their environment and their goals and their target market. And she pulled this together and then established this relationship and the credibility. So some benefits of this strategy are that it's a smaller upfront investment for your new clients. So they can, you know, test out the waters. And it's like dating, right, you're not committing, they're not committing, tell, you've kind of gotten to know each other better built mutual trust. And you end up getting paid to get all that insider knowledge about ultimately what's going to make your value proposition for ongoing work more compelling, you also become more confident and comfortable with those decision-makers, and what they care about that drives them. And that makes the sales process more comfortable and more valuable to them. So that is what I call the dating strategy, dating your client strategy. Alright, so the three strategies are rebuilding your sales mindset into an effective mindset. The second one is partnering with a complementary provider. And the third one is the client dating strategy. So there you have it. Your takeaways for today are just to get really clear on your thoughts about sales, selling, what your clients think about being sold to, and where your sticking points are around your thought processes. And then choose one of the strategies that I shared with you today. Honestly, my recommendation for you is to always choose number one, getting into an effective sales mindset. And then you can choose option two or three, you know, to kind of compliment that in the meantime. Right. But I'm telling you if you go in and address your sales mindset, all of this other stuff just falls into place. Okay, one last thing before we close out for today, I told you, in the beginning, to stay tuned for something exciting and so now I have it. I am hosting a free master class on September 10. So if you're listening to this before September 10 go register so you can attend live. The master class is called the blueprint to break free from the consulting feast or famine cycle. I'm going to walk you through an entire blueprint that will help you break free from that feast or famine cycle from the roller coaster that you experience from the worry and anxiety about where is the next client going to come from? Am I going to make as much money this year as I did last year, my going to all of a sudden be a one-hit-wonder and not be able to sell anymore and have to go back to corporate all of those worries and concerns and stress and anxiety, I'm going to share with you the blueprint to overcome that. And to get to the place where you feel very solid and stable in your consulting business and that you can drive business whenever you want to, in a way that you want to do it. All right, so if you're listening to this before September 10, go register, so that you can either attend live or get the replay. And if it's after September 10, that you're listening to this episode, go register, and I will automatically send the replay to you and or give you updates on upcoming master classes. So either way, go register doesn't matter if it's before or after September 10. And I look forward to sharing this blueprint with you so that you can get out of this feast or famine cycle and have a really solidly growing business without having to work more. All right. So with that, that is what I have for you today on episode number 25. And I look forward to talking with you again next week. And to you joining me for the masterclass Take care.
Thanks for joining me this week on the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. If you liked today's episode, I have three quick next steps for you. First, click Subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to make sure you don't miss future episodes. Next, leave me a review in your podcast app so other independent consultants can find it beneficial and finally put the ideas from today's episode into action. Head over to Melisaliberman.com for the show notes and more resources to help you grow your consulting practice from your first few projects into a full-fledged business. See you next week.