If I had a pound for every professional who has said to me “I hate selling”, I wouldn’t need to run my own business and would be lazying around on a yacht in the Caribbean.
So, what is it that makes us dread the selling process?
1. Negative stereotypes associated with selling
When I ask you to think of a sales person, what comes to mind? A pushy double glazing salesman who would swindle his own Granny, if he thought that would help him make his targets?
Well, maybe that’s a bit strong, but probably not too far off the mark. In fact, when people in our firm are good at selling, we never talk about them as a great sales person. We talk about them as a great marketing person or good at business development or a rain maker. Never a sales person.
2. We are very rarely trained to ‘sell’
You’re always up to speed on the latest financial reporting standard or piece of major legislation – well, your technical capability is important to your ability to service your clients.
So how come most of us expect to magically expect to be able to sell? Suddenly, we find we have “business development” responsibilities and targets – and at best we have the luxury of observing some of our seniors within the practice demonstrate their ability (or lack of ability) to sell.
3. We are conditioned to expect to make the sale in one phone call or meeting
It all goes back to the stereotype of a sales person. We see them at the first sales meeting and pushing for a yes to close the deal – and not leaving without one.
We have been conditioned to try and make the sale on the first meeting – rather than seeing sales as a process, and focusing on getting to the next stage in the process.
4. We fear rejection
If you push yourself into a sales situation, there can only be three outcomes: yes, no or maybe.
Deep down inside of us all, we all have a little person in us who just wants to be liked. It’s this little person who tells us that if we have to do some “selling” then there is a chance it may end badly for us, and they wouldn’t want to be our friend… this is all codswallop in reality, but something not too dissimilar to this is often going around in our heads when we approach a sale.
5. Selling professional services is not easy
Before someone is willing to buy your services, there normally needs to be trust and credibility present.
This takes time to build up, and means that the sales cycle can often be long and protracted, which makes it harder. With all the other things on our plates, following up and keeping the prospect warm is often at the bottom of our list.
Have I missed anything out?
Heather Townsend is the author of The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking. and the founder of The Efficiency Coach. Follow her Partnership Potential and Joined Up Networking blog for more useful tips and tricks.
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