Secret 1 sell yourself first

Before you agree to put yourself on an operating table, a surgeon must first earn your trust. You'll find out as much as possible about that surgeon through your network of friends, family, coworkers, other doctors, and patients. It makes sense to research the surgeon's credentials and experience. Even when those qualifications are impeccable, if the surgeon doesn't inspire your confidence, you'll probably keep searching for someone who does.

The role of a consultant is not unlike that of a surgeon. In buying your services, clients may feel they are putting the fate of their businesses, their finances, and their careers in your hands. So your first job is to earn their confidence.

You may have reams of relevant case studies, glowing testimonials, and a blue-chip business card. But they won't make an iota of difference if the client doesn't believe that you will deliver what you promise. If the client doesn't trust you, your firm will probably be eliminated from the running.

Personal selling is not a grab bag of manipulative tricks to get clients to like you, but rather a strategy of engaging the client in a substantive discussion of the issues impacting the client's business. For guerrillas, personal selling is not selling at all, in the traditional sense. Instead, it is a give-and-take with the client characterized by:

^ intense listening;

^ insightful questioning; and presentation of creative ideas.

If the client perceives that you understand the macro issues and nuances of the discussion, you will advance to the next step. If not, the client will politely show you the door.

Of course, have the stacks of case studies and testimonials tucked away in your briefcase, just in case the client asks for them. They provide excellent backup. The key to selling yourself is to focus first on clients and their issues, not on yourself or your firm.

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