It is interesting that to many the ‘S word’ still has negative connotations. To be fair this may be justified as sadly there are too many examples of ‘mis-selling’ in both the professional and corporate sectors.
So going back to the original question we have a feeling that most firms would answer with a definitive ‘no’!
Let’s think differently for a moment. We recall the words of a highly respected Managing Partner of a major property consultancy we worked with. As part of the induction programme for new recruits he posed the question:
“How would you describe the business you have just joined?”
The bright young graduates eagerly responded:
“A multi-disciplinary property consultancy” “Asset managers “Valuations” “Landlord and tenant advisors” etc
The responses went on to form an accurate summary of the multiple service lines offered by the firm.
The Managing Partner paused for a moment and responded: “You have joined a sales and marketing business!”
For a moment the graduates’ faces dropped. After all they had all worked really hard at university and to them (rightly or wrongly) they judged those to have studied sales and marketing to be perhaps just a little less academic than them.
The Managing Partner continued to explain what he meant. He was simply saying that they were first and foremost a sales and marketing organisation whose services were all of those areas of valuable expertise offered by a highly professional property consultancy. Put even more simply he noted that you can be the best property consultant in the world but without marketing and attracting paying clients you will not have a salary and your firm will go bust (or more likely seek a merger!).
As part of the induction it was then explained to the graduates exactly what professional sales and marketing was. You can guess that his firm’s approach was a million miles away from the graduates’ original perception of sales!
So let’s think about what approach this firm actually took towards sales and marketing.
First and foremost, it was embedded in the culture that this firm would always have their clients’ best interests at heart. They were committed to understanding what their clients wanted to achieve and to offer the best advice possible that would achieve the clients’ objectives at a mutually acceptable fee. They were coached from day one to always be honest with clients to the extent that if they felt they did not have the right solution for a client they would decline to work with them and where possible point them towards a more appropriate advisor.
This firm did invest heavily at all levels in ‘sales training’. This training did not attempt to introduce any approaches that were manipulative or in any way designed to ‘trick’ a client into meeting or to train people in self serving questioning techniques that gave the professional the quickest opportunity to present and ‘sell’ their service line.
The whole focus of their approach was to genuinely seek to understand a client, in depth and in full. Only when they had fully understood would they consider offering a solution that was right for the client. And if they didn’t understand or didn’t have the right solution they would simply walk away!
So let’s return to the original question: Would you tell your clients you were investing in sales training for your professionals?
If your chosen approach is as described above your answer should be a proud and confident yes!
In effect what you will be investing in is the ability of your professionals to understand clients and offer them the very best solutions. Solutions that offer tremendous benefits to your clients who will see you as the truly valued and trusted advisor and will continue to seek your advice for many years to come.
Now that can only be good for your clients and your firm.
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