Like it or not, every consulting partner or soloist is a salesperson.
It doesn't matter whether you call yourself a consultant, an advisor, a facilitator. It doesn't matter if you use the words sales, marketing, and business development interchangeably. If you've cultivated specific knowledge that help others and need paying clients to support your practice, you need to sell.
The reason is simple: if you are running a small consulting firm, there is no other alternative. The company needs a regular influx of money to survive and thrive. And you can’t hire a sales team or build an automated machine to do this for you, due to the nature of what you are selling.
High-ticket consulting is about solving complex and expensive problems. Your clients would never trust a stranger to do that. The only advice they will take into consideration is one of an expert they know and respect.
A generic salesperson could never explore which risks and opportunities are relevant to your clients, identify the root cause of their issues, or propose customized solutions to improve their businesses. But you can.
This means that you, as a “seller-expert”, have two major responsibilities:
- Delivery: Serving and satisfying your current clients, delivering great results and an outstanding experience;
- Growth: Developing those relationships to retain and sell more to your client, and bringing in new clients to the firm.
Consulting firms expect their experts to fill their own pipelines with a steady flow of new opportunities. The same goes for solo consultants - you already know you can't simply sit and wait for the phone to ring. You need to get the work done while also convincing people to let you do the work for them.
But shifting your focus from delivery to business development requires change, and change is never easy. Tomorrow I'll share what the main challenges are, and how successful rainmakers bring in business without damaging relationships or burning out.