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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The "better than" construction marketing selling model

This posting by Mel Lester is worthy of careful reading.  He addresses the challenges of selling professional services when you are not a professional yourself -- in other words, you are indeed a salesperson rather than a rainmaker.

The challenge, as Lester indicates, is that conventional sales representatives don't  have the technical expertise and knowledge to deliver real value -- at least if they behaves like "typical" representatives.  And there are few things more irritating to decision-makers than dealing with sales reps who bring nothing to the file other than their persistence in their selling efforts.  Conversely, the best way to win the order is to deliver value in the selling process; to show that you really have solutions that will provide value to the business or organization.  He suggests a variety of options, notably having enough knowledge to provide real support either in knowing where to go for the technical resource, or facilitating the overall process.

Assume the role of solution delivery facilitator. Although prospective clients would quickly recognize that I wasn't a technical expert, they learned to trust me as the conduit to the right technical resources within our firm—or even with other noncompeting firms. The platform for doing this effectively was both developing a general understanding of the technical issues (as mentioned above) and knowing who to go to within our firm (or outside if necessary) for any relevant client problem or need that was identified.

Lester suggests one option is for the rep to spend more time to really understand the technical stuff  and even to develop enough expertise that may be distinctive from the core business, so that the selling sessions are more about sharing and giving than pushing and prodding.

Actually, anyone selling professional services should try to avoid being characterized as a mere seller. You're an expert solution provider, even if the solutions come primarily through others' expertise. As I learned, the best way to change perceptions about your role is to serve clients rather than sell to them. And when you commit to serving instead of selling, you're more likely to uncover opportunities to use your own skills and knowledge to help clients.

Problem solving and delivering business value, after all, is hardly limited to the domain of the technical experts.

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