A lawyer I was coaching recently felt his sales performance was weak. He had a few prospective clients asking him about his services and “kicking tires” but not retaining him. After discussing the specifics of one such prospective client, I asked him: “what was your goal with this person?”
He responded: “To make him a client.” He told me that trying to convert the person from contact to client was uncomfortable for him. Worse still: it wasn’t working.
Is Turning a Contact Into a Client the Right Goal?
I frequently find lawyers, consultants and financial planners wanting to mine their relationships and turn the many contacts they have into clients. They are focused on business development and want to build relationships so they can get more business. That may sound like a good goal–but it’s the wrong one.
The goal should be to build relationships and help the other person. The more one tries to sell, the more the prospective client gets turned off. Just think of the times when you needed services or products. You probably just wanted to be guided and helped, not to be sold something.
This isn’t a new concept. There are many articles and blogs that give all the reasons to stop trying to sell. Just do a search on “stop selling.” You’ll be inundated with articles and blogs. Charlie Green published an article on this topic in 2006 called “Stop Trying to Close the Sale”.
Let Go of the Goal and Start Helping
The more you try to sell, the less the other person wants to buy. It’s one of the paradoxes of selling. So—don’t do that. Instead, really do let go of that goal. Of course you need more clients or customers–but that’s your problem, not your prospective client’s problem.
Trying too hard just doesn’t work. And, as my lawyer client said – it’s stressful. Let go of your goal along with the stress it engenders and try something else – like helping, in the context of building real relationships. Interestingly, the more you try to help, the more success you’ll have in selling. (As long as you don’t let short-term, gosh-I-hope-I-can-sell-this-one thinking reverse the means and the ends).
Helping means finding ways to assist the other person to identify, analyze and resolve his or her problem. If that process results in a need for your services, that outcome will emerge. If helping includes referring the person to someone else, perhaps even a competitor, so be it.
Helping rather than selling fits well into the Trust Principles. Helping is:
How Helping Reduces Stress
Most Professionals with whom I work rarely got their JD, CPA or MBA because they wanted to sell. What they wanted to do was to practice their chosen profession and to help people. They create stress for themselves by feeling they have to sell when they don’t want to, a feeling that is compounded by then having to deal with rejection on top of it.
This is an unnecessary, even painful, vicious circle. Change your mindset towards helping others. It will reduce your stress. And it may actually result in more business sold.
Stop selling and start helping.