Sales people rarely make good consultants but consultants can learn to be great at consultative selling. It does not mean getting a personality transplant and ditching their integrity and principles. In fact it is those very things that give them the edge at winning business in the world of technical services.

If you are an ambitious consultant who wants to be a successful principal consultant or start your own consulting business then you will need to develop your selling skills. Fortunately, with consultative selling, its probably easier than you think.

Here are a few reasons why good technical consultants can be great at winning business with a bit of specialised training and mentoring:
Consultants are trusted by clients

When it comes to your biggest competitive advantage against regular sales people, it’s the fact that you are trustworthy. Trust is a major issue and when consultants fully appreciate this then they can begin to leverage this asset in the sales process. Also, understanding the role of trust and risk in a consultancy sale gives a massive boost in confidence when competing against conventional sales people.
Consultants are great at solving problems

Consultative selling, when done properly, is about solving client problems. The whole consultative selling model, at least the way I teach it, takes the focus away from WHAT you are selling and instead puts it on WHY the client might need your help. Consultants just need to start discovering what that problem means to the client and why the client might want to solve it. This is an easy skill to acquire if you know what to look for.
Consultants are good communicators

You don’t tend to get too far in the world of consulting if you are unable to communicate. Communication is a very important skill in sales and this is a skill that needs to be further developed. Its often a case of developing a more flexible communication style and to communicate value rather than just the facts. These additional skills are easily to master if the core communication skills are already there.
Making the transition

Sales is not an academic pursuit and therefore reading a book or watching a video about sales will not help you until you start to put it into practice and develop the skills and the mindset. This takes time, practice, and patience.

The good news is that you don’t have to wait forever before you start winning more business. If you follow the basics and adopt my ‘Start small and grow’ strategy you can start winning more business as you develop your skill over time.

Sales training is important but make sure you are trained by people who have come from a consultancy background and make sure a large proportion of the training is devoted to developing skill through role play and feedback. Do you think the SAS would be as effective when they need to be if they did not do so much role play and practice?

If you are new to consultative selling then my free mini-course is a great intro