I am a consultant so it is absolutely OK for me to take a shot at my fellow consultants. Here’s the scenario. Let’s call our amiable and learned consultant Jim. Jim’s been working for a company for 22 years. He has decided to take early retirement. Jim, being the intelligent guy that he is, worked out a pretty decent golden parachute for himself.
Ole Jimmy knows that his soon to be ex-company has a bunch of prospects that slip through the sales cracks because they are too small. He suggests to his boss that he could take those smaller prospects and give the company a percentage of the deals that he’ll close during the first year of his “retirement.” The boss says go for it and everything is A-OK with our 52 year old soon-to-be-widget-consultant.
But, as Paul Harvey says, “And now for the rest of the story.” Jim the consultant spent his life in _________. Fill in the blank with HR, Marketing, IT, Production, Quality. Jim HAS NEVER SOLD, with the exception being the lemonade stand he had when he was 8.
Fast forward 9 months. Jim plops himself down at 5:30PM and his wife hands him a double martini (like, forget the vermouth.) Jim says to his wife, “I never ever realized how hard this selling stuff is. People just won’t buy from me. I don’t get it.”
I will make you this bet. This same scenario (with or without Gin) is played out across the U.S. of A. countless times every day! The answer is incredibly simple, so simple in fact that many salespeople fall into the same trap, as duly noted here in previous posts. Consultants are so excited about their product or service that they can’t wait to tell the world about it, regardless of whether the prospect has even hinted at a problem. And, if our dear, old, cuddly Jim were to hear of a problem he would spill his entrails telling a prospect about how his product would cure all their ills.
And what is the effect on consultants who don’t change their selling approach? A promising product or service goes away; the consultant files for bankruptcy and winds up working at the hardware store part time; repeated shouting matches with the significant other about retiring too early; draining the 401K and the kid’s education fund. Or worse.
Aren’t all of us consultants? Some of you may have W-2’s but you’re still consulting. Please shut up and listen to your prospects. And, if you wouldn’t mind, please forward this around to every person you know that might be related to consulting. Their earnings will improve. And, in a blatant self-promotion mode, if you think that there are consultants in your world who need mentoring or coaching then pass my email address along to them. email@example.com.
The Final Word: “Isn’t consulting another word for unemployed?” Sara