Smashing the Plateau

How to Sell Your Expertise as a Consultant Featuring Craig Swanson

Smashing the Plateau

I love talking about sales. I was fortunate to be exposed early in my career to what professional sales looks like. David Shriner-Cahn invited me to discuss my early days in selling IT services on his Smashing the Plateau podcast.

“My view of sales was framed by professionals. I was trained with a group of professionals who built a lot of trust with their clients. And for me, one of the definitions of a professional in sales is someone for whom every transaction increases trust in the next transaction.

“Every relationship I can move forward—if I am doing it correctly—I am making the next one easier because I’m building trust at every phase. It’s not my job to make a client’s decision for them, and it’s not my job to trick them into that decision. At every step along the way, if I can work in a way that helps them get what they say they want, it is going to increase trust next time.

“My job is to try to uncover an opportunity. To find if there’s a need, if we can help a client solve something, and if they see a problem we can solve. My job is not to convince them past their objections but to help them make a decision, yes or no, about whether this is the right move for them.

“Now, I do that with the mindset that I need to be able to close sales and move forward. I think many consultants spend a lot of time discussing potential opportunities but never getting to a clear yes or no because they’re so afraid of getting a no. If I’m afraid that someone will say no, I never ask if I can get to a yes.

“I got to a place where it was more important to be clear in my relationships. Not to waste my time and not to waste the time of my prospective client. Rather, I’d work to get to a clear yes or no as early in the process as possible. And then start the consulting relationship if there is a relationship to start.”