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Why a career in professional services means you are in sales.

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

When you began your career in professional services did you ever think you’d end up in sales? Probably not. Maybe you still don’t. However, in most consultancies once you reach the level of Partner you are given a formal sales target to achieve. Welcome to sales!

But don’t worry, you are not alone. We have interviewed lots of people for Partner promotions in a range of professional services firms. Whilst many have been involved in winning large deals for their organisation, time and again the biggest concern I hear from them is that as a Partner they will be given a sales target to achieve.

The good news is that many of the behaviours that have brought you success in your career to date, are also critical in a sales environment. Our review of research comprising tens of thousands of salespeople identified three key dimensions that are required. The first dimension relates your Personal Drive and there are three elements to this; your personal motivation for the role, your belief in your ability to be successful in the role and your clarity of focus (achieved through goal-setting). These behaviours have the effect of setting a clear direction of travel, to achieve outcomes that you find stimulating whilst enabling you to be resilient in the face of setbacks.

The second dimension relates to your Interpersonal Insight. This comprises your ability to appreciate other people’s perspectives, to really connect with your customer. This deeper understanding of others enables the effective salesperson to then modify and adapt their behaviour ‘in the moment’ to achieve maximum value from each interaction. In addition, the best salespeople use these ‘people skills’ to ensure that they are well-connected both internally, where they can influence the solution, and externally, where they are focused on enhancing their networks to position themselves as thought leaders.

The final dimension is about an individual’s Sales Focus. First you must have a thorough understanding of your market, your customer’s market and the economic and industry drivers that are relevant to them. Ensuring that you keep up to date on such trends enables you to position yourself as a trusted advisor, someone who can bring fresh insight to customer’s problems and help them to see their situations in novel ways. In doing so you are able to create momentum, by taking control and developing customer advocates who will help you drive the sale to a successful conclusion.

Hopefully you recognise many of these qualities in yourself as it’s unlikely you will have been successful in your career without them. If you do want to develop these behaviours further be honest with yourself, seek feedback from trusted colleagues and discuss with your line manager how they, and the organisation you work for, can support you.

To find out more about the Acuity for Strategic Sales model, click here.