Why Selling Sucks—The Profits from Your Practice

In both 2010 and 2011 my company, Innermetrix, conducted polls of over 6,000 independent consultants. This survey was designed to help us understand how satisfied the general consulting community was with the results of their sales efforts. The results of that survey highlighted a critical issue.

While 99 percent of the respondents felt that “getting more business” was their most critical issue, 98 percent felt an equally strong dislike for the act of selling. Now that's what I would call a bit of a dilemma.

The problem: Independent consultants need to sell—but they hate to sell.

With such a significant problem, it is tempting to jump immediately to the solution of how to fix it. Before you can fix a problem, though, you have to understand its cause. Otherwise you are treating the symptoms.

Below are the four leading causes of poor sales for the independent business consultant.

Cause #1: Selling Is a Full-Time Job

Simply put, the mistake most consultants make is that they fail to recognize that they are not salespeople. Professional salespeople are just that—professionals, whose only role is to sell. Your role is to consult or coach, and sales becomes some sideline task you must do in order to fulfill your primary role. Look at any large and successful company and they know how important it is to have a dedicated sales force.

Salesmanship isn't just some collateral skill you pick up in order to become better at some other core ...

Get The Profitable Consultant: Starting, Growing, and Selling Your Expertise now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.