This is a book about relationships. More specifically, it is about managing relationships as assets. I know, I know—you thought it was about sales. It is. I once heard a speaker named Lou Heckler say, “Business moves at the speed of relationships.” He’s right. You may have heard the term relationship asset management.1 If you constantly manage your relationship assets, your business will move at a constant speed. If you shift your focus or divert your attention, even for a moment, from relationship asset management, you will find that your business will slow down proportionately. If you think of sales as the vehicle that propels business, relationships are the engine and you are the driver. This book is your road map. How fast and how far you want to go is up to you. There are no limits. As Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up somewhere else.” Selling professional services does not have to be one of those happenstance, if-you’re-lucky kind of things. You can have a plan, you can have systematic steps to get there, and you can have a road map to follow.
What’s in It for You
You are great at what you do. You are so good at it, you’ve entered the world of self-employment and you have your own business as a consultant, a coach, a therapist, an attorney, a facilitator, an accountant, a chiropractor, a project manager, a trainer, an advisor, a whatever! Do you have a selling system that integrates networking, marketing, and sales? Where will your next clients come from? Where will your leads come from? Do you think of yourself as a consultant, a coach, a counselor, an advisor, a chiropractor, a project manager, a whatever, and not as a salesperson? As a sole proprietor or small business owner, chances are you are not only the president/CEO, but you are also the janitor, receptionist, CFO, and COO! And, you are, whether reluctantly or not, the sales executive for your business. As Sam Horn of TongueFu has said, “a sole proprietor is a sale proprietor.” Likewise, if you are a solo practitioner, you must also be a sale practitioner.
You may be an experienced solopreneur looking for a structured format for sealing the deal and supercharging your sales to take your business to the next level. (A system is defined as a set of connected things or parts forming a complex whole, and as a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method.2) The system set forth in this book applies equally well to seasoned practitioners as well as “the newbies.”
Or maybe you’re a retiring baby boomer looking for your next avocation. You may be an employee, tired of slaving away for someone else’s gain, ready to break out on your own to join the global, networked economy of free agents. Either way, you’ve probably considered some form of consulting as an option for what you can do to leverage and apply your corporate experience as a free agent. This book can help you make it a reality. In fact, I was already doing a six-figure business when I started applying the 10 steps I’ve laid out for you, and in the first year of using the system, I saw a 95.6 percent increase in revenues.
Your success is hinged on your sales ability. Sales is not a dirty word! Selling executive coaching, consulting, or any professional services to corporations can be challenging, particularly given the abstract, intangible nature of those services. Complicating that is our sometimes-negative perception about sales and selling. For many of us, the concept of sales conjures up images of sleazy used car salesmen, pushy telemarketing calls during dinner, the onslaught of catalogs that clog our mailboxes, or a sales pitch from a door-to-door solicitor or vendor. Worse yet, we think of spam, phishing, and other e-mail evils. For others of us, the activity required to generate sales causes us anxiety or feels intrusive or uncomfortable. We don’t want to force ourselves on others—we want to help them! Particularly for the coaching industry—which in spite of itself is a $1 billion industry and second in growth only to information technology—generating business is a major stumbling block. The only way to impact this reality is to recognize that we can’t afford to be naïve about what it takes to create business opportunities. We have to get good at it so that it will take us less time to get the clients and we can spend more time doing what we love, which is working with the clients. Most of the helping professions are a lot like coaching—they don’t want to sell. They love the client work, but hate the work of getting clients. Yet we know that no clients equals no business. The most important part of running a business is keeping existing clients and acquiring new ones.
Developing New Business, Your Way
Seal the Deal will guide you to take new actions and alter your mindsets about business development in a way that will open the door for you to grow your coaching/professional services business in the way you want. Once you understand and can use this book’s systematic process, concrete approach, and focused format for selling professional services into organizations, you can easily Seal the Deal using your own natural style and personality. The steps are easily customizable and user friendly. If you picked up this book looking for tips, tricks, gimmicks, magic, secret formulas, or other marketing wizardry, you won’t find them here. There will be no manipulative or pressure techniques, fear tactics, or slick shadiness of any kind. The system in this book is about honor and integrity, genuineness, authenticity, and honesty. It is a straightforward, no-nonsense approach, which is why it works for everyone who applies it in a way that is true to his or her natural self. There are no shortcuts. If you are willing to do the work, take the risks, and shift your perceptual framework, you will see results.
Many of the points in this book are discussed in terms of coaching and consulting, but these steps apply equally well to any professional service. Also, the discussion is primarily organized around the idea of a sole practi- tioner or small partnership selling into organizations at the executive level or to Human Resources; but with only slight shifts in mindset, it can also apply to business-to-business selling or to selling large-scale multi-coach inter- ventions, large-scale change initiatives, or large-scale strategic implementation projects. None of the concepts presented here is rocket science or truly new information—but you might not have thought of them in the context of business development before.
A notable feature of this book is that you will learn an action-oriented selling system through an edited transcript of our Seal the Deal telecourse. The telecourse is a mastermind group of coaches and consultants who are taking their networking, marketing, and sales to the next level (the participants’ names have been changed to protect the innocent). There are 10 sessions of live group coaching conversation, and while we’ve edited out the small talk and personally identifying information, we’ve left the course content essentially intact. I have also included some of our most popular worksheets, templates, samples, and tip sheets for you to use as you create and fulfill your own Personal Strategic Business Development Action Plan in three distinct domains: networking, marketing, and sales. If you wish to listen in, audio of our telecourses is available for purchase. You can contact Innovative Leadership International for one-on-one sales coaching as well.
Endnotes 1. Richardson, T., & Vidauretta, A., (2002). Business is a contact sport.
Indianapolis, IN: Alpha Books.
2. Oxford American Dictionaries. New York: Oxford University Press USA, Oxford University Press, Inc.Download Article 1K Club