Sales: the essential “painful” task for professionals

Sales is the essential “painful” task for every professional services and consulting provider, writes Deon Binneman

“We all live by selling something”.

“Sales is the second oldest profession in the world…”

Deon Binneman

So go the adages, but in these words there lies a lot of truth for individuals in private practice, in professional practices or professionals finding themselves having to be self-employed.

You have to market and sell yourself to sell your firm. This is true for accountants, architects, consultants, engineers and lawyers. It is certainly true for Engineers, economists, executive recruiters, PR specialists, human resources consultants, estate agents and, increasingly, the medical profession. Yet the marketing and sales methods that stand big companies in good stead may not always work for a consultant in private practice.

Firstly, you may not have the budget and, secondly, you do not have the resources or time. This means that you need to use different methods and processes to get your messages across. Buyers of manufactured goods seldom think about who produced the goods, but buyers of professional services almost always do.

Buyers of manufactured goods seldom think about who produced the goods, but buyers of professional services almost always do.

Unable to try out the service before buying it, the buyer does the next best thing and that is to assess what it would be like to work with the professional who delivers it. And that assessment depends very much on what name and reputation you have created for yourself through your marketing efforts.

This means, that sooner or later, all professionals must market if they want to advance their careers and grow their firms. For many in private practice, it may mean that they have to sell in order to stay in business.

Historically, the development of professionals toward winning new clients has been haphazard. Law, accounting, engineering, medical and HR schools teach virtually nothing about marketing when you are an independent consultant or running a SOHO (Small office Home office). However, for any consultant, the learning of specific marketing and selling skills could mean the difference between survival and success.

Many successful consultants make the transition to marketing, whilst others never make it all, at great cost to their careers and future. The bottom line is that having professional skills and training just isn’t enough to advance in running your own practice. To succeed you must learn to market and sell.

To manage a successful practice you have to try and bill clients for as high a percentage of your time as possible.

Every consulting business needs new clients to thrive and grow. Building a business is an activity that should never stop. The trick lies in dividing your time between doing the actual work and marketing constantly. Keeping one eye on your current client and another on the horizon for future clients is a difficult juggling act.

Just as there are many different ways to drive a car to Cape Town, there are many different ways to bring new clients into your business. You can place ads and hope that your customers may see it, you can network using social media or you can cold call hoping that you can get a possible appointment for an interview.

The trick lies in developing the most cost-effective way to reach clients and to build your business. Effective ways could range from obtaining referrals to building a reputation through writing articles in the media.

For consultants, Deon Binneman has the following tips

1. Remember that sales equals survival
The consultant who cannot sell will lose his or her independence and have to go back to work for someone else.

2. Make time for marketing
To manage a successful practice you have to try and bill clients for as high a percentage of your time as possible. So you might say there is little time for marketing, but that is no excuse. This is not a value judgment, it is a statement of fact. In busy times you can get away with it, but in slack times? If you believe that you are too busy serving one client, what will happen when you lose that client?
Tell yourself: “I must render professional service and find time to market”.
Unfortunately, time spent on marketing is not billable. To someone with a cost-saving mindset, returning 10 phone calls may seem a waste of time, but to someone with a marketing mindset it is an investment.

3. Marketing is a numbers game
The only way to increase your batting averages is to go and bat. If you go and bat there is a good chance that you will be caught out… but the more times you go bat the better your chances for striking it rich. Thus, the better your marketing planning and execution, the higher your probability of success. The bottom line is that marketers market… and remind yourself daily that you should be working on something.

4. Role modelling
In his book “Unlimited Power”, Tony Robbins speaks of the concept of modeling. “To become successful, you need to model yourself on the knowledge, skills and attitudes of successful people… By role modeling them you can shorten the very expensive learning curve and become successful far quicker yourself,” writes Robbins.

5. Push the leverage points
Researchers in systems thinking speak about leverage points – those small, well-focused actions that can, when used at the right time and in the right place, produce significant, lasting benefits exponentially beyond the effort required to take the action step itself.

– Deon Binneman is a speaker, trainer and facilitator

Photos: Pixabay

Deon Binneman will be providing an opportunity for consultants and individuals in private practice to obtain knowledge and skills of such leverage points through his “Marketing A Consulting Practice” workshop on the 28 May 2019.
This workshop focuses on how to market and sell professional and consulting services in a very noisy, hostile and competitive market and is a must for all consultants, business practice development managers, professional service providers and people interested in improving their knowledge of professional consulting marketing strategies.
It includes essential information on lead generation, inbound and outbound marketing and will cover more than 23 different tools and methods to improve brand and name recognition.
You will understand why normal selling methods don’t work if you are a consultant or freelancer, Why self-promotion is vital for the ongoing success of your business and you’ll gain valuable insights that will help you to establish, refine and implement effective marketing plans for your consulting practice or small business.
If you are interested in more information or wish to book, please take a moment to call Deon Binneman at 011 4753515 or e-mail for more information, and/or a booking form.