The First Sale is always to Yourself

I have read countless publications by Alan Weiss and so I have come across this saying before, but last week in London, when I met Alan (see here) he mentioned it again and it really made an impression on me.

The first sale is always to yourself.

As an independent consultant, it can be a lonely existence. I am solely responsible for my success and my failure, for ensuring I bring in enough money every month, and for continually finding new business. This is a huge responsibility. There are no other employees who can share the burden with me. I don’t have an office full of staff who are working on my behalf and with whom I can bounce ideas off. It’s just me.

So how do you cope with such an existence?

Well, firstly, I wouldn’t have it any other way! I have no office politics to contend with and no ‘boss’ watching my every move. It’s a liberating experience, and I will never go back to being an employee. I very rarely hit a traffic jam on my way to my office, across the landing!

I also love what I do. I enjoy the challenges associated with helping my clients improve. Improvement comes in a variety of forms. It might be the award of certification, it could be reduced stress, or it could be increased profitability. Every project is different, which is also a huge plus for me. Complacency and boredom were feelings I experienced in my career over 10 years ago, and I have never felt them since.

But to be successful as an independent consultant, you have to believe in yourself. You truly have to be comfortable in your own skin, and be confident in the value you offer. This is especially true, if like me, you don’t base your fees on units of time. You really do have to be at one with your value.

You must see yourself and your prospects (the economical buyer, who more often than not is an MD) as equals. You are not pitching. You are coming together to discuss how you might help bring about change and improvement. The prospect has to decide if you are right for the organisation, but also, you must decide if the prospect is right for you. That takes confidence.

Too many times I have felt intimidated in such meetings. Never again. The first sale is always to yourself.

It isn’t about ego, it’s about being comfortable with what you bring to the table.

So next time you are faced with a challenging situation, perhaps an important sales meeting, or a meeting with a potential new client, take time to think about your value. Look at yourself in the mirror – the first sale is always to yourself.

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