If you are thinking about starting a CFO practice, does the thought of selling scare you?
Perhaps you are a veteran fractional or part-time CFO and still hitting some speed bumps during your sales conversations.
Would you believe an introvert from rural Missouri who abhors being in large groups and attending networking events loves to sell? He’s not too shabby at it either. You can read about his secret here.
Two Critical Truths to Sales Success
There are many books on how to sell. More are being released every year as though the ones in the past are obsolete. The sales training industry is more than $2 billion annually.
Do you need to be goal driven with lots of grit as my friend Bill Dickinson preaches consistently? Bill is the President and Founder of Osage Food Products and has learned more about sales than you and I will ever learn in a lifetime. Sometimes I get the idea Bill sits around in his office till he gets a call every 10 minutes where his customers beg him to sell them something. He’s that good.
However, don’t try to be like Bill. He’s like the Joe Dimaggio of Major League Baseball or Peyton Manning of the National Football League.
Instead, just be you. But you need two critical traits to build your client base:
- You need to love business
- You need to be more interested in the person you are talking to than yourself
Let’s briefly unpack these.
You Need to Love Business
Don’t love business? Go home. Better yet, find a W-2 position.
When you love business, you’ve eliminated almost every barrier there is to selling access to your knowledge and personal intellectual capital.
By loving business, you’ll have an unlimited supply of questions. When that happens you fully forget you are in a sales conversation. Instead, it’s more like a business conversation with a friend where you have a deep desire to keep learning more and more from the other person.
Do you have a bland personality? Do you feel average in your capabilities? Are you bothered you can’t tell your prospect that you went to a top-tier school or worked years in a Fortune 1000 company?
By having an insatiable business appetite, these shortcomings will not matter to the CEO you are talking to. Instead, they’ll see you as someone who sincerely cares about their business. That’s powerful.
Let me be clear–you have to love business. You can’t fake your way through this vital truth. If you love business (innovating, marketing, selling, fulfilling, etc.), you’ll go far in this business.
Be More Interested in the Person You Are Talking to Than Yourself
As an introvert, I find asking questions easy. Asking follow-up questions is easy too, maybe because of an old journalism background.
However, I hate, and I repeat, I hate talking to people who are self-absorbed. These are the people who keep talking and talking and talking. Shoot me and put me out of my misery.
And the big problem with self-absorbed people? They have no idea this is a problem. None.
Do you know where I’m heading with this? Be quiet. Listen. Ask. Listen some more.
There will always be the temptation to dive into your tools and skills and bag of tricks as a super-amazing CFO. Easy on the features and benefits. Wait on those once you’ve heard the problems, pains, and fears of the person you are talking to. Then, and only then, start explaining how you can help solve those problems.
I know this is probably obvious, but I still need to say it–care more about the other person. If you have to, tape the book cover of Max Lucado’s book below in your office, a mirror, or your vehicle.
Packaging and Pricing
The first two truths of successful selling are easy provided you love business and care about others.
Packaging your intellectual property and pricing it properly are entirely a different story. You need a strategy for this, and I know just the person to help you. You can begin your packaging and pricing journey here.
Appendix – Source for The Sales Proverb
I love the quote in the header image above:
If you can see John Smith through John Smith’s eyes, you can sell John Smith what John Smith buys.
In my opinion, this brilliant proverb sums up everything I’ve mentioned above. It’s all about John, not you. Once you understand John’s problems, fears, and frustrations, then, and only then can you begin to determine if your solution is a match for John’s issues.
I’ve searched and searched for the source of this quote. I cannot find who said it. I’ve seen this quote in an Alwyn Cosgrove blog post. If you love working out, you might own one or more of his books.
The quote is referenced in a book by Russell Collins entitled Skills that Succeed.
John Maxwell cites the proverb in his book Winning With People. I’ve even heard Dan Sullivan mention this proverb.
Should you want to use this quote yourself in a presentation, sorry, I have no idea who said it. It’s a good on, isn’t it?
Photo Credit: Roman Kraft, thank you very much!