Selling Skills for the Professions

Posted on: August 13, 2013

Selling skills for the professions

Dynamic Practice Development

In July 2000 I published a 200 page book report with Hawksmere plc titled Selling Skills for Professionals. This book explored a widerange of selling concepts and ideas from the perspective of an accountant, surveyor or lawyer. The original version contained primary research into the views of leading lawyers, accountants and surveyors on selling.

In June 2003, a revised and updated version of the book was produced containing 285 pages. This enhanced and expanded version is calledDynamic Practice Development – Selling skills and techniques for the professions. The research section was replaced with a short introduction on preparing a marketing plan.

For further information please visit www.thorogood.ws where the book can be ordered. Alternatively, you can telephone your order to 020 7749 4748 or fax it to 020 7729 6110. Email orders to orders@thorogood.ws. The publisher’s address (for orders by post) is: Thorogood, 10-12 Rivington Street, London EC2A 3DU. Discounts are available from Thorogood for multiple copy orders.You can also obtain the book from some quality business and legal bookstores.

You can also order it on-line at www.amazon.co.uk (Hardback price £29.99, softback £19.99).

Part of the book encouraged readers to contribute their own comments and views – the section on feedback shows the responses.

An overview of the “Selling skills for the professions” book.

  1. Introduction
    • Objectives of the book
    • How to use this book
    • Why do professionals dislike selling?
    • The context of CRM
    • The art and science of selling
    • Cultural differences
    • The importance of needs
    • Why you should have a coherent marketing strategy
  2. Marketing planning
    • Understanding the basic principals of marketing
    • So what is selling?
    • Different levels of marketing planning
    • A marketing framework
    • Analysing your present situation
    • Deciding what works for you
    • Agreeing a strategy
    • Implementing your plan
  3. What is selling?
    • Definitions
    • What makes a good salesperson?
    • Why is selling different for the professions?
    • What is a professional?
    • Consumer vs B2B sales
  4. Adopting the buyer’s point of view – an introduction to buyer behaviour and relevant psychology
    • Introduction
    • Individuals
    • Personality
    • Cultural styles
    • Emotional intelligence (EQ)
    • Perception
    • Motivation
    • Life cycle
    • Group dynamics
    • Buying situations
    • Organisational buying behaviour
    • Buying criteria
  5. Selling frameworks and models
    • Introducing the sales cycle
    • Classical models
    • Consultative or process models
    • SPIN
    • Strategic Selling
    • RADAR
    • Summary
  6. Selling skills
    • Setting objectives
    • Targeting
    • Researching
    • Cold calling
    • Networking
    • Conversational skills
    • Following up
    • Building trust
    • Non verbal communication
    • Listening
    • Questioning
    • Writing skills
    • Presentation skills
    • Persuading – features and benefits
    • Negotiating
    • Handling objections
    • Closing
    • Direct approaches
  7. Competitive tendering
    • Introduction
    • Common mistakes
    • Elements of a competitive tender
    • The need for a framework
    • Using the framework
  8. Account management
    • Part one – The business rationale
    • Why account management?
    • Objectives
    • How account management fits into day to day life
    • Key elements of the account management process
    • Part two – Taking action
    • Establishing the account team
    • Role of the account partner
    • Role of the account manger
    • Qualities and attributes of account partners and managers
    • The first meeting
    • Assessing the client’s satisfaction
    • External service reviews
    • Internal service reviews
    • Client satisfaction surveys
    • Relationship management
  9. Firm wide issues on selling
    • Managing change
    • Culture
    • Business and marketing strategy
    • Involvement of junior staff
    • Time and recognition
    • Role models
    • Feast and famine
    • Ethics and professionalism
    • Loyalty to individuals vs loyalty to the firm
    • Appraisals
    • Research
    • Training
    • Coaching
    • Incentives
    • Systems to support selling
    • Motivation
    • Priorities
  • Appendices:
    • Sales jargon buster
    • Useful sales related books
    • Self appraisal of service performance
    • Internal service review questionnaire and example questions
    • Full account management plan
    • Summary account management plan
    • Checklist – are you ready to sell?

Recent reviews of Selling skills for the professions

Published in October 2003 “PSMG News Journal”

Sub-titled Selling Skills and Techniques for the Professions, this book talks the language of the professions and acknowledges many professional’s “discomfort” when faced with the notion of selling. By her own admission, Kim says of the book “rather than attempt to teach selling in a book, my aim is to provide a review of as many different ideas and frameworks of selling as possible.” For example she includes information on techniques such as SPIN® Selling, Strategic Selling ® and Radar™.

Kim is an independent consultant with over 20 years’ marketing experience. Over 200 of her articles on marketing professional services have been published and she is also a regular speaker at many events. Her particular interest and training in Psychology have resulted in an interesting chapter on Buyer Behaviour before looking at the different selling frameworks and models and then particular selling skills.

Although almost 300 pages in length, the book is broken up with many visual representations, diagrams, flow charts and short paragraphs about specific topics.

Published in August 2003 “The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland”
By Alistair Bonnington, The Law School, University of Glasgow

This is a book about selling written specifically for professional firms, but that should not be a reason to skip to the next article. Tasso seeks to dispel the myth that selling is not professional by putting it within the context of a linkage and balance between developing a firm’s reputation, understanding the markets they service, winning new business and developing business from existing clients. Many of the techniques required are the same but differences exist in their application to new and existing client situations and these are brought out within the book. She acknowledges that we are all different and that one approach or techniques will not suit all; what is important is how you get inside the mind of the buyer of your service. Her aim is to provide a useful review of as many different ideas and frameworks of selling as possible. Her target market is wide ranging: the book is aimed at beginners, as a reference work for those with greater knowledge, or to dip into on specific topics.

The first three chapters contain basic information about selling, and selling within the context of marketing, because Tasso argues that without a coherent marketing strategy, your selling will not be nearly as successful. Many firms will find the practical guidelines on preparing and implementing a marketing plan extremely useful. The theoretical contents of Chapters 4 and 5 is perhaps for those with greater knowledge or a keen interest in selling. However, they do underpin much of the practical aspects of selling discussed in later chapters. Tasso first reviews models of buyer behaviours both at individual and group levels to emphasise the need for professionals to understand all the factors involved in making a sale and then outlines the most common selling frameworks, plus aspects of more recent models that are pertinent to professional services. The remainder of the book reverts to being practical in nature. All firms will find useful the comprehensive advice on the wide range of selling skills, many of which are interpersonal, that are outlined in Chapter 6. Firms who are new to competitive tendering will find invaluable the 12 step process provided in Chpater7. Client relationship management, obviously differs according to the type of client, but Tasso outlines bot the objectives and benefits of such a system and how to establish the requisite internal processes within a firm.

The concluding chapter addresses the requisite managerial steps that must be taken to allow the culture and attitudes to exist for selling to flourish. The appendices contain tools and checklists to speed you on your way.

Tasso achieves her aims of containing something for everyone. Some parts of the book will be beyond beginners, while other sections will be too simplistic for those with greater knowledge. However, whatever your level of interest and type of client base, it will probably contain information and guidance for you. It is clearly laid out and written in a straightforward and approachable style. Overall, it is a useful contribution to the management of professional firms.

August 2003 – Barry Gilbertson, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Senior Vice President RICS

If this book was in electronic form, it would rival the best search engine. To label the book as an encyclopaedia or a compendium is to not do it justice – there are more tools in this particular toolkit than the average garage mechanic has spanners. There is a great danger in business books that they are selected at airport or railway booksellers, only to be discarded as unreadable, jargon-infested exortations to impossible tasks with improbable results in real life. That simply cannot be said about Dynamic Practice Development, by Kim Tasso. It is the most readable and reader-friendly book of its ilk – from the illustrated “How to use this book” diagnostic at the front, to the explanatory Roadmap highlighted at the front of each chapter, through to the further reading appendix, where each book is explained, including why it will add to the reader’s knowledge base.

Throughout the text there is strong, relevant and clear use of charts and diagrams. Whether the reader is a beginner in the world of business or someone with rather more grey hairs than they care to disclose, the book displays the author’s understanding and experience of their situation. There is a clear empathy with the culture of being a professional, from the worries and concerns that an individual may experience about selling, even cold calling, through to a recognition of the differences in international culture and business practices.

However, this book is not just for the international businessman. It continually displays a clarity beyond its peers, for example in its definition of that hackeyed phrase – practice development….a virtuous circle of marketing, selling and client relationships. Not, as often used, to describe the next freebie in a line of client entertainment.

The book draws on a very wide range of techniques, listing and crediting each author carefully, so that the reader gets an insight into the outputs of such luminaries as Dale Carnegie, David Maister, Myers-Briggs or the psychological thoughts on team building by Belbin. These references, and many more, are all here, in just enough detail to be interesting and informative, without getting caught up in the weeds of detail.

The one aspect that seems to be missing, though, is a chapter on integrating the more advanced techniques for the more experienced practitioner – with content that recognises that not all readers need to revisit the basics, but are willing to enhance their skills already honed by consistent practice over the years.

The consistent theme running through the book is not just about how to develop a professional’s practice in a dynamic way – it is about how to influence a situation, how to influence a client and how to influence a sale. Successfully.

August 2003 – Fiona Spiers, Business Development Manager
Weil, Gotshal & Manges

This book is for professionals who view selling as alien and practice development as something which administrators do. As a lawyer in a business development role, I have ploughed through marketing books which are excellent for honing my widget-selling skills but which have no practical relevance to selling (and encouraging others to sell) professional services. This book makes sense to professionals. It gets rid of marketing jargon and talks about real issues – how to get more business from existing clients, how to differentiate yourself in an increasingly competitive market, how to write a pitch document, how to put yourself in your client’s shoes, in short, how to do all the necessary evils of marketing a law firm. The real selling point for me is the account management plan which translate the art of marketing into a practical, realistic exercise with achievable goals and measurable results. Common sense in 9 chapters!

August 2003 – Bruce W. Marcus, The Marcus letter on Professional Services Marketing

There are two kinds of marketing experts in professional services marketing – the mechanic and the artist. The mechanic knows all the techniques and the ways to use them. The artist knows how to use those techniques originally, thoughtfully, and competitively. Kim Tasso is the rare marketing professional who is both, and she proves it in Dynamic Practice Development.

August 2003 – Ross Wilson, Chairman, Tenon plc Thames Valley

The guidance at the start on how to use the book depending on the stage the reader is at in his/her career is spot on. Some chapters captivated and excited all the business development urges in me and it sits alongside the one other book in my office – “Value Pricing”.

I have dipped in and out of the book and I focus on those chapters which are definitely for me the ‘value added read’. It contains so much common sense and much of the book brings together my own experiences in business and is a great reminder of the really important things in dynamic practice development.

Some of the chapters could easily stand alone and could be published in their own right as quick and easy read aide memoires. The reminders on the behavioural aspects, attitudes to selling and development, the importance of the client and making the client the only focus are all bits that I relish and some chapters should be prescribed reading for all trainees. I will refer to the book at least once per month albeit I suspect it will be to the same chapters each time.

August 2003 – David Higgins, Business Development, Deloitte Consulting

Selling isn’t everything……but for PSF’s it ranks right up their with oxygen. At last a comprehensive how to selling bible for professionals. Its all you ever wanted to know about selling but didn’t know where to start. A must read for everyone involved in the business.

Linda Phelan, Pringle Brandon

A ‘must read’ book for busy marketing professionals. Kim has a way of taking on big subjects and giving you easy to read – and plagiarise for important board presentations – bite sized chunks.

Kim presents information in a well organised and well structured way but without that ‘marketing textbook’ feel. It’s focused, jargon-free, fiercely practical and easy to absorb. Even after all this time it still sits on my desk and is referred to often.

Hot tip – buy several copies and distribute amongst those partners that still feel very uncomfortable with the ‘S’ word.

Richard Oakes, Eversheds

(Reproduced with permission from Professional Marketing International Magazine)

“I don’t know about you but I for one simply do not read enough. With pressure on my team to win bigger more sexy clients and the aggressive marketplace in which we now operate I simply haven’t the time to invest in my own intellectual capital…” I suspect a well-worn phrase or sentiment. As marketers in professional firms are increasingly looked upon as salespeople (one of the worst insults you could throw at us by the way) the pressure to derive new business pitches and coach very senior partners to “close that sale” leads some to find themselves out of their comfort zone. If you are there, or simply would like a complete reference guide to that bit of marketing called selling I think I have the answer.

Kim Tasso’s book on the subject is a comprehensive, well written and very readable companion. Kim delivers a text that is digestible and you will be able to put some of the excellent models into action now. But that’s not all. Even in the first few chapters she delivers a simple but vital strategic observation that we all forget sometimes – The relationship between sales, CRM and marketing. I won’t give it away but the book delivers a simple elegant model that we should all get tatooed on our managing partner’s arm, shoulder and bottom. In short this book will remain a constant source of reference as it pulls together almost everything you have heard of and gives it in bite sized chunks. So what does the comprehensive contents list look like?

  • A useful how to use the book – sounds a little primary school I know but it really helps frame the books many uses.
  • Some interesting and openly admitted anecdotal research into how professionals sell. The points made on why selling PSFs is different to selling soap powder are a must for all new FMCG PSF converts
  • A clear and intellectual run around on what selling is and how professionals feel about the subject
  • Something we all need to focus hard on – buyer behaviour or understanding the victim (as one leading national firm allegedly sees it)
  • We then get into examining the leading sales frameworks. This I think will help marketing directors enormously. Those who need to build a basic knowledge to be credible in the partnership can do so here. That said the book also offers long timers a superb reference tool and coaching manual
  • Chapter six is as good a summary of selling skills as I have read. It is very relevant to our world and written by someone who clearly has been there at the sharp edge. I have to deliver simple coaching sessions to junior lawyers and this stuff will be a real help in building the messages
  • Kim moves on to delivering the best tender you have ever worked on. Her approach is a top to bottom analysis but backed up by handy hints on every page.
  • Most sales text seem to skim over the all important what to do when the buyer says “Yes”. Kim deals nicely with account management but this is not a book about CRM, it is a sales reference with a useful insight into making the new account worth it.

I have my own strong views on PSF culture and the selling process….Kim focused on getting business and marketing strategy in place first and promotes involving and motivating all to contribute….hear! hear! Once again she delves deeply into appraisal, training and sales support infrastructure. She sets an ambitious set of must haves and we would all do well to jot these down. I hope this gives you an idea but in short – this is a super book and go buy it as it is well worth the money.

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