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Consulting Instead of Selling

Many of us are trained to sell, to be over the top, in getting our products or services out there. That may work for some people – both the salesperson and the consumer – but for others it’s a total turn-off, especially if you are in the services business. For example, you may be in the financial services industry, insurance sector, technology consulting, advertising and media buying, or financing. Why not try the consultative approach and give something away?

Consulting involves getting to know your client during your initial meeting and during that meeting adding real value. This may involve giving them ideas. Yes, give a client an idea instead of selling them on your credentials. In offering an idea, a prospect will immediately see your experience and expertise. Now some fear this approach as they feel the potential client will just take the idea and not hire them. That is a risk. But by giving them an idea, you’re making them a client, they’re simply not paying you at this point. You’re assuming you have the business by advising, consulting and providing them with information they need. Some forward thinkers in the insurance industry use this approach. They build relationships and don’t worry about the sale. It’s about building trust and establishing a comfort level and establishing oneself as a go-to resource for that prospect that over time may end up as an account.

Let us give you an example of giving an idea to a company, and positioning oneself as a trusted advisor instead of selling. A large women’s retailer was looking to tie their spring collection with a charitable cause. Instead of providing a proposal that included just the numbers (cost) to come up with an idea, a consultant who wanted to break into this market did a full-blown presentation. She came up with an idea, a slogan, and a marketing plan with all its components. Some told her don’t do it; you should get paid for the idea. They will steal it and won’t hire you; they can do it in-house. But she took the opportunity to showcase her expertise and talent. The company hired her. They wanted to take a different direction from what she presented, but they still hired her because she gained their trust – not by selling but through consulting. After the initial project, they also hired again to implement her initial proposal. A win-win for everyone!

Try consulting, sharing your expertise instead of selling… See how it works for you and your potential clients.