“Sell” is a Four-Letter Word

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a superhero. Maybe you did too. Or, maybe you wanted to be a lawyer, doctor, teacher (and, of course, astronaut). I’m willing to bet there was one profession you didn’t even consider – sales. How many kids lie in bed at night thinking to themselves, I can’t wait to grow up so I can sell, sell, sell

Right…not many (probably none). The myth of the natural born salesperson is just that – a myth.

Pick ten of your friends and ask them to choose the first word they think of when you say “sales”. We’ve done this with groups of professionals dozens of times, and the top choices are “slimy”, “pushy“, and our personal favorite – “ugh”!

Indeed, “sell” is a four-letter word.

Selling is Critical in Business Today

That wouldn’t be a big deal except, for many of us, selling is a critical part of our job! We’ve changed the name to sound more professional – “business development”, “client acquisition”, “practice building” – but let’s call it what it is – sales.

I know what you’re thinking – if you could wave a magic wand, put your head down and focus on your work and never have to sell again, that would be perfectly OK with you. Unfortunately, if you’re in a profession where selling is expected (lawyers, financial advisors, and CPAs, for example), there is no magic wand.

“If you want to grow a practice – including (and especially) your own – you’re going to have to sell.”

This hasn’t always been true. In the past, a few rainmakers in a firm could keep everyone busy. They would build a book of clients, and junior associates could, in turn, build their own. Not anymore. Day after day business becomes more competitive, and customers are well-informed, savvy, and skeptical.

Maybe you’ve decided to go out on your own instead, and leave the demands of the professional firm behind. What’s the first thing you need to make that work – a business card, office, new logo? None of those pay the bills. Nope, you need clients who are willing to pay for your services or products. Until you have paying clients, you have an expensive hobby, not a business.

Let’s recap the problem – none of us dreamed of being in sales, yet we’re finding ourselves increasingly in positions where we have to sell as part (maybe a large part) of our job (or to build our own practice/firm). Today’s consumer is increasingly sophisticated, savvy, and skeptical, and they’re only a few keystrokes away from finding and connecting with our competitors.

What’s the solution? Conventional approaches to sales may be hurting, not helping, your sales efforts. More about that in a moment.

Yesterday’s sales strategies don’t work – here’s why…