Don’t be a consultant

The following is copied from a comment left on this blog by David Ross, and is republished here with permission.  We believe that his words will be valuable to all of our readers.

For me the hardest part of High Probability Selling is “Don’t be a consultant.”  A consultant, according to Webster’s, is “one who gives expert or professional advice.”

At one time or another most salespeople feel an urge to share their wisdom and expertise with prospects.  But I can tell you from painful experience that trying to be a consultant will eventually drive you out of sales.  Prospects know that a salesperson’s pay depends on a sale being made, so prospects discount, ignore, or “take with a grain of salt” almost everything that a salesperson says.

The most dangerous of all prospects are the “interested” and the “curious.”  Like the Sirens of Greek mythology, who lured unsuspecting sailors to their doom, the “interested” and the “curious” will engage you with questions that will be almost impossible to ignore; and you will be consumed by a desire to educate and inform.  When you’re done, these “Sirens” will pat you on the head, thank you for your time, and be gone.

Don’t educate.  Don’t inform.  Don’t tell people how great your company or product is; instead, tell them that not everyone will benefit from what you sell and, in fact, some people shouldn’t buy your product or service at all.

Be the un-salesman: instead of trying to convince prospects, let them convince YOU.  This is the essence of High Probability Selling: after saying ‘yes’ to a legitimate offer, the prospect has to answer a dozen or so questions to prove that he’s serious.  All that is required of the salesperson are the guts to disqualify those who don’t make the cut.

Lastly, concerning your reply that “it is hard not to start selling when someone engages in conversation,” remember this rule: there are no conversations with prospects.  There is nothing to talk about until the prospect says “yes” to an offer.  If the prospect does not say “yes” to your offer, the call is over.  Contact the next person on your list.  If the prospect’s reply is vague, ask for clarification: “Does that mean you want ________, or not?”

High Probability prospects will not allow themselves to be easily disqualified.  Let everyone else go in peace; for many are called, few are chosen.

David Ross

Author: Carl Ingalls

Administrator for High Probability Selling Blog

6 thoughts on “Don’t be a consultant”

  1. Have to say that I was taken aback by the title of the article as I always call myself a consultant over a salesman. I don’t think I’ve ever defined consultant in the way you did above. That being said, I actually take the same philosophy and tell people that we may not be able to work together right from the start in order to offset any trepidation of speaking with me about their needs. Good article..


    1. Hello Audra,
      The title of the “Don’t be a consultant” article was addressed to those salespeople who use consulting to make a sale, not to people who sell consulting advice. Selling and consulting sometimes get mixed up. When selling advice, remember this. Sell first, then advise.
      Carl Ingalls


  2. I worked many years as a real consultant. I learned fairly early that people will want your advice if you are a recognized expert and it’s free. They won’t be so eager to hire you and pay. So, I learned not to give free advice, not to educate, not to discuss any business with them without a contract.

    Can you imagine meeting a medical doctor at a social event and saying, “Hey Doc, I have a sore throat. Could you take a look and see if it’s anything serious?” Be like the doctor – no free advice.


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