Here’s the nub – you can’t be a consultant or have your own business without also being a salesman. If only you could, life would be wonderful.
However, here’s the good news, selling is fun. It is a very complicated skill but the rewards and the fun are enormous.
So read everything you can get hold of about selling. A particularly good place to start is any book by Alan Weiss (he has written numerous) about building a great consultancy business, packed with useful advice.
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, LinkedIn and Palantir says that ‘sales’ work best when hidden. This explains why almost everyone whose job involves distribution – whether in sales, marketing or advertising – has a job title that has nothing to do with those things. People who sell advertising are called ‘account executives’, people who sell customers work in ‘business development’, people who sell companies are ‘investment bankers’ and people who sell themselves are called ‘politicians’.
Whatever the career, sales ability distinguishes superstars. On Wall St, a new hire starts as an analyst wielding technical expertise, but his goal is to become a dealmaker. A lawyer prides himself on professional credentials, but law firms are led by the rainmakers who bring in big clients. The most successful actors or musicians are often the best sales people in a crowded market.
It’s that important. The most fundamental reason that even business people underestimate the importance of sales is the systematic effort to hide it at every level of every field, in a world that is secretly driven by it.
Sales is an art. It’s a complicated art, driven by people’s needs, driven by psychology, responded to by emotional intelligence, powered by discipline and prioritising. Successful lawyers, musicians, people from every profession understand that and spend hours and hours learning the art. Selling their skills.
So make sure the most important hour of your day – your first hour – is given over to reading about selling, practising and progressing your sales projects, following through on everything and learning the gentle art of quiet persistence – and never letting go. Desire, faith, plans and persistence are all it takes to see your business grow.