As a consultant, I am sometimes asked by people how to get business without being pushy. Pushy sales people seem to be most people’s pet hate, so here are some tips for successful selling without the cringe factor:
- Get referred.
Many of my new clients contact me because they have been referred by an existing client or contact. Referrals are the easiest way to get new business – people are calling you because they are already interested in your product or service and someone they trust has recommended you. Be great at what you do and referrals will come. Don’t be shy about asking clients for referrals. Just say “I am so pleased you got so much out of my product / service. I’d really appreciate it if you could pass my details on to other organisations or people who might need something similar”.
Be great at what you do and referrals will come. Don’t be shy about asking clients for referrals
- Listen and ask questions.
Understand the client’s issues and problems, be a sounding board for them BEFORE you suggest solutions. You are wasting everyone’s time if you are trying to sell something when you don’t even know if the client needs or wants it.
- Think strategically.
Once you understand what the client’s issues are, table a solution linked to the bigger picture – you can suggest wider reaching more impactful solutions than if you focus only on the obvious issue. For example: Client X wants some team building sessions to help with team morale. On talking it through it becomes evident that the poor morale is caused by a challenging culture and an inability to influence effectively inside the organisation. The solution is not actually a team building session (although we might do something around that later) but work on culture, strategic influence and building resilience.
- Write a blog, send out newsletters, get active on social media.
Pass on knowledge and solve problems for people rather than just advertise. If people have been reading your articles and finding them valuable you will be top of mind when they need a consultant.
- Do guest speaking.
It’s nice if you get paid, but if even if you don’t it’s a great way to get exposure. Every time I do a guest speaker spot it results in new clients. When you speak, aim to educate, not sell. Know your audience, find out what they are interested in or challenged by in their businesses and give them a taster of the solutions. Don’t use the session as a big sales opportunity, just finish with “I’m going to be around after the session / in the break and I’m happy to take further questions”. If you have a presentation your closing slide should have your contact details and website address. Leave it up while taking questions, you need to give people a chance to write them down.
- Repeat business is the best business.
Give your existing clients a great experience, develop long term relationships with them, and really understand their industry and business. Even when you haven’t got any work on with them you should stay in touch. Have a coffee with your key contact semi regularly, forward them the occasional article or paper that’s relevant to their business or industry. Recognising special events by sending a hand written note or card is also a nice personal touch.
What tips do you have for selling without the cringe? Or stories from the other side of the fence – what are your experiences as the buyer?
Image credit: Stephen Davies
Ros is the Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, an Australian consultancy, specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations.
Ros is a solutions and results oriented facilitator and coach, with a career in the Human Resources and Organisational Development field spanning more than 20 years. Ros brings an energetic and proactive approach combined with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Her expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture, team building, change and transition management, organisational behaviour, employee engagement and motivation, strategic direction and management.