One main job of a firm leader is to be a salesperson. This is at the heart of the main thing we do. And it’s important to build your firm so that you can devote time to this important function. I’ve tried to delegate this role to others in my firm, and it hasn’t worked yet. I find it is one of the most difficult roles to delegate for a few reasons:
1. Selling services is really selling philosophies. The person you may try to delegate selling to has to buy into your firm philosophies more than any other thing. I’ll use value pricing as an example. When value pricing, selling is decidedly not about trying to win every customer. In fact, when selling under the philosophy of value pricing, you should be seeking a healthy balance of proposals won vs. proposals lost (our firm goes from 50%/50% to 60%/40%, but it depends). In essence, you are selling philosophies to a potential client. This is called alignment. Some are aligned, and some are not. If you delegate the role of sales to someone that has not bought into your philosophy of service (or worse, has their own idea of what the philosophy should be), then they will be bringing clients into your firm that are not aligned with what you believe. This will be disastrous for your growth, and for the team that seeks to serve these non-aligned clients.
2. Owners are the ones who can promise outcomes to clients. Selling is about promising things to clients, them believing in what you promised, and then paying you for the delivery of those promises. Are you making promises to your clients? Most firm owners do not make promises. I know I struggle to come out and state how my customers will be transformed by working with me, but I must! That is how you sell. If you don’t make bold promises, clients can’t believe in you, and will fail to pay you for the privilege of working with you. To that end, people you have delegated the sales process to can’t typically make the bold promises you can make as the owner. If there is a time when your sales person is asking you, “hey, the potential clients wants __________ – can we do that?” then you know there is a knowledge gap in what the sales person feels comfortable promising to the client, and what the firm can deliver.
3. Selling is an intimate function in a firm. If you are continuing to raise your prices because your value continues to increase, which is what I hope you are doing, then you are seeing clients go away because your price is too high. I believe in reaching a good balance between clients won/lost on price. But this activity will really play with your mind. You find selling is so intimate when you start losing clients because you priced your services so high. These kinds of behaviors force you to deal with what your value is, because the potential client you are pitching to will ask, “why are you so much higher than everyone else?” You will have to answer that question. And you will have to deal with the reality that some clients will believe you, and some will not. The selling function is deeply intimate, emotional, and often scary. Because of this, it is hard to delegate these activities to a non-owner that feels no pain when they lose proposals on price. I love some of Joe Polish‘s ideas on selling and marketing in this YouTube video:
Here are 5 questions to glean some takeaways from our discussion on selling:
1. Are you making promises in your selling?
2. Is someone else doing the selling for your firm, and what might the ramifications be of that delegation?
3. What is the largest dollar amount you have sold to a client in the past year? Is that amount higher than the previous year?
4. How can you leverage the intimacy of selling to increase the perception of your value to your potential customers?
5. What new things, ideas, and opportunities would you have to sell to a client in order to double your price tomorrow?
Jason is the Founder of Thriveal and the Chief Innovative Officer of his CPA firm, Blumer & Associates. He is the co-host of the Thrivecast and The Businessology Show and speaks and writes frequently for CPAs and creatives, his firm’s chosen niche. Jason loves to watch documentaries on just about anything. He lives in Greenville, SC with his wife and their three children. Stay connected with Jason by signing up at JasonBlumer.com.