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Why conventional sales approaches don’t work for professionals

2011 March 28

A professional relationship depends on a meeting of minds between a specialist professional and the client.

That doesn’t always work in a linear way. It can be like an upward spiral of discovery, where the professional needs to review what’s happening in the conversation, draw some conclusions, and then think about where to go next.

It can also be complex. Just take these examples:

  • A lawyer helps a client to set up a family trust, so that the interests of family members are protected over time.
  • A consultant works with a specialist retailer to enable them to migrate their business to online shopping.
  • An accountant works with an entrepreneur to ensure that the business structure for a new venture enables rapid growth without loss of control.

In each of these instances, the professional has to understand what the client wants, but then work out what they really need. And finally, and this is the tricky part, get the client to want what they need.

Sometimes it feels like being a game of snakes and ladders. You think you are steadily climbing a ladder and getting near to a conclusion, then suddenly the client comes out with something, and it’s just like sliding down a snake.

You have to reassess the situation while retaining your professional composure and maintaining the confidence of the client.

What is your experience of applying conventional sales approaches in a professional setting?