The continual cycle for most consultants is that of sales to delivery to sales…..hopefully with as little downtime inbetween as possible. What’s interesting is that the skill sets for sales and delivery are often perceived as fundamentally different, that somehow we have to morph into different people to be able to make this transition effectively. One of the greatest moments of resistance one gets from consulting teams is often based on this perception of a different role…”I’m not a sales person, I deliver”, “I have no experience of selling and that’s not my responsibility” are classic responses you might hear.
Lets approach it in a different way.
In the 3 dimensional sales model, 2 of the dimensions are relatively commonly used.
Firstly, the situation which is being addressed, perhaps a change in strategy or a merger or some cost efficiency plan. This typically acts as the ‘scenery’ or backdrop to the meeting and is often the reason you’re there in the first place. Whether the described situation is the total picture is another question…but it is the pressing need as currently being experienced by your client.
Secondly, the decision makers / relationships. Who are we selling to, what do we know about them and how can we use that knowledge most effectively? Another critical reason why you’re there, because of some relationship you have. One of the tougher aspects of consulting is to recognise that not all relationships are equal…who else is there in this organisation that we need to influence?
The final dimension which is worth considering is the culture, legacy, and history of the corporate entity. What are the unique characteristics of this business, how does the sector or activity influence the culture, what skill sets are valued most highly, how do the values of the business express themselves in every day behaviour? For me, this dimension is really interesting because in many ways, it provides the biggest challenge for a consultant…can I operate in this environment, can I challenge without being seen as a disruptive influence, how do these values correspond with those of my business or indeed myself?
It occurs to me that all three of these dimensions are as just as critical in delivery as they are in sales, the only thing that’s different is the time frame and perhaps the ability to access data to support the process…more intuition than analysis.
So my question to all those reluctant sales people in the consultancy world is, what’s the problem?!