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How Clients Buy: A Practical Guide to Business Development for Consulting and Professional Services



How Clients Buy: A Practical Guide to Business Development for Consulting and Professional Services

Tom McMakin, Doug Fletcher

ISBN: 978-1-119-43470-2 March 2018 272 Pages


The real-world guide to selling your services and bringing in business

How Clients Buy is the much-needed guide to selling your services. If you're one of the millions of people whose skills are the 'product,' you know that you cannot be successful unless you bring in clients. The problem is, you're trained to do your job—not sell it. No matter how great you may be at your actual role, you likely feel a bit lost, hesitant, or 'behind' when it comes to courting clients, an unfamiliar territory where you're never quite sure of the line between under- and over-selling. This book comes to the rescue with real, practical advice for selling what you do. You'll have to unlearn everything you know about sales, but then you'll learn new skills that will help you make connections, develop rapport, create interest, earn trust, and turn prospects into clients.

Business development is critical to your personal success, and your skills in this area will dictate the course of your career. This invaluable guide gives you a set of real-world best practices that can help you become the rainmaker you want to be.

  • Get the word out and make productive connections
  • Drop the fear of self-promotion and advertise your accomplishments
  • Earn potential clients' trust to build a lasting relationship
  • Scrap the sales pitch in favor of honesty, positivity, and value

Working in the consulting and professional services fields comes with difficulties not encountered by those who sell tangible products. Services are often under-valued, and become among the first things to go when budgets get tight. It is now harder than ever to sell professional services, so your game must be on-point if you hope to out-compete the field. How Clients Buy shows you how to level up and start winning the client list of your dreams.


1 A Curious Problem 3

2 Finders, Minders, and Grinders 14
The Business Development Imperative


3 Beyond Pixels 27
Selling a Service Is Different from Selling Things (and Harder)

4 Obstacle #1—What They Didn’t Teach You in B-School 37
If I Am Supposed to Be the Expert, Why Do I Feel So Stupid about Sales?

5 Obstacle #2—But I Don’t Want to Sell 45
Moving Past Willy Loman

6 Obstacle #3—Things Aren’t What They Once Were 56
It Is Harder Than Ever to Sell Expert Services

7 Obstacle #4—A Blizzard of Bad Advice 67
Everything You Know about Sales Is Wrong


8 The Secret to Selling 83
Never Say Sell

9 Element 1—I Am Aware of You 95
What Was the Name of Your Firm Again?

10 Element 2—I Understand What You Do 112
You Do What?

11 Element 3—I Am Interested 127
These Are My Goals

12 Element 4—I Respect Your Work 138
You Have the Right Stuff to Help Me

13 Element 5—I Trust You 154
You Have My Best Interests at Heart

14 Element 6—I Am Able 168
I’ve Got Budget and Buy-In

15 Element 7—I Am Ready 181
The Timing Is Right


16 A Chain Is as Strong as Its Weakest Link 197
Using the Seven Elements as a Diagnostic Tool

17 Getting to Work 212
Learning to Think and Act Like a Rainmaker

18 All Business Is Local 223
From the Silk Road to the Information Superhighway

19 Our Vision of the Future 229
A Roadmap for Change

Notes and References 241

Acknowledgments 248

About the Authors 251

Index 253