Unusual Times Require New Paradigms – Selling is Helping

With everything turned upside down and all around, we need to make some adjustments in our business lives. A new paradigm is defined as a new concept, idea, or way of doing something that replaces old beliefs or habits. The Rainmaker Companies have been working with accounting professionals for over 25 years to shift the thought process from selling to helping. When the topic of selling is mentioned, images of uncomfortable networking functions may emerge in professionals’ minds. An expression of fear may even be visible on many faces as they imagine boring events full of intimidating strangers balancing cocktails and hor’s d’ oeuvres and peering nervously around the room. Others may imagine a scene of pushing their services on unsuspecting people and being rejected and embarrassed.

Now, more than ever, it is your time to shine as your client’s most trusted advisor and help them through the current situation. You most likely have essential advisory skills they need. Showing an interest in your client’s welfare and helping them solve their problems is a large part of your relationship with them. Listening to and showing compassion for their concerns in this time of uncertainty has become a day-to-day occurrence for some of you. Now is the time to shift your selling paradigm. To help your client find a solution, you need to start asking the right questions to uncover needs, fears, and problems. You might assist with services that your firm provides, or you might find that you are in a unique position to reciprocate with your best referral sources.

Helping vs. Selling

When professionals are asked to give the first word that comes to mind when they hear the word “selling,” responses usually range from “painful” and “pushy” to “necessary.” Some do say the words “fun” and “liberating.” This is much better, but the word I am looking for is helping. Selling services to clients is helping them. So how do we get the fear-stricken masses to realize this?

Most professionals that have some experience will share that a top motivator for them is helping clients. This is the primary reason that many joined the accounting industry. When partners share stories of how they helped clients, their eyes light up with passion and excitement. They become animated, recounting stories of how their advice and relationships helped take their client’s business to the next level. I love to hear these stories because this is what the profession should be about: helping people. So, when we talk about growing our practices, I would like to propose a paradigm shift for those in fear: stop selling and start helping.

Help Your Clients and Spend Your Time Wisely

Most people enjoy helping others in need. We naturally enjoy solving problems and building relationships with other people, including clients. What if we, as an industry, could reduce our fear of rejection and embarrassment and focus solely on having meaningful conversations about how we can help others? Our lives would be full of more interesting discussions and, ultimately, more exciting clients each year. The good news is that you can. You need to commit to being intentional with your clients and prospects and having the right type of conversations.

While growing your practice would be a lot easier if referrals flooded in continuously, this is not a reality for everyone. Referrals are generally warm, qualified, and have less price resistance. This is the reason they are so wonderful. When you desire to build a client base in a new niche, in a new location, or with an unfamiliar company, you must rely on more creative ways to become known.

Becoming creative today with social distancing guidelines just means you have to be more intentional. Attending events where there is a high likelihood of meeting potential clients is normally a great option for growing business, but live events are limited right now. But there are still ways to do it. For example, if you are building a niche in health care, seek out the best health care virtual events where you are likely to come into contact with potential clients and follow up after the event with digital communication. LinkedIn connections and groups are a great way to jump-start your relationships.

Change Your Mindset From Sales-Focused to Helpful

When interacting with your clients, the difference in appearing pushy or salesy versus friendly and interested in getting to know others is simply in your approach. Ensure you display positive behavior that is honest, open and friendly, rather than sales-oriented with a possible hidden agenda. Make sure you don’t appear pushy or sales-oriented, which could turn off potential clients and referrals.

Start with your intention. Change your mindset from selling services to being interested in helping those in need. Intend to meet new contacts and learn about what they are doing and what they are up against. Ask about their background; talk about their challenges and share success stories involving others with similar problems. This will help you to gain the trust of your client and advance the relationship to the next level. It will also provide you with valuable experience in dealing with different people and may uncover opportunities to help others. This friendly interaction is more enjoyable and rewarding than feeling like you are forcing your firm on them.

Prepare for these conversations by learning about your firm’s successes with clients in multiple engagements. Gather as many success stories as you can. Prepare a list of interesting questions to ask potential clients about their business experiences and struggles. People like to talk about their problems and are generally open to hearing solutions. Be prepared to talk about how other clients dealt with similar struggles.

While you may be tempted to demonstrate your capabilities on the spot and tell prospects how to solve their business issues, this is not advisable. It is fine to speak to them about possible solutions, but you should strive to build enough interest so that you are able to set a follow-up meeting. The more you demonstrate your capabilities early on, the more salesy you sound.

Once you have established a relationship with your new friend you can feel more comfortable to formulate solutions with them. At this point, you may have won an engagement. And the best part is you were busy helping and not selling. It’s a win-win situation for both the client and your firm. Both benefit from this newly established relationship that will result in trust and honesty.

Next Steps

To learn more about building a dynamic culture through relationships, and how to position yourself as a Trusted Advisor, please Contact Us to schedule a complimentary phone consultation. The Rainmaker Companies can help you Grow Your FirmGrow Your Practice, or Grow Your Self.

Angie Grissom