Stop trying to make your Partners salespeople

There are smarter ways to use their skills

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It’s the start of a new financial year for most firms this week, which means the last month has been spent cramming numbers into spreadsheets, setting new budgets and targets from marketing spends to client retention rates. It also means that Partners will inevitably have had their sales targets set. Bringing in a set amount of new business, typically via upselling to existing clients, is to many, a rather loathed part of the role.

Upselling to existing clients requires a Partner to have a deep expertise of a different service line area in the business, outside of their own. This is something that you can reasonably expect given their seniority at a firm. But it also requires them to be natural salespeople, and in my experience, this isn’t something we can reasonably expect.

Business News Daily lists 14 traits of a good salesperson, from being assertive to confident, extroverted to persistent. I have worked closely with Partners at professional service firms for well over a decade, and they are not, in the large part any of these things. Of course, you get the odd confident extrovert, but mostly, they are conservative, academic sorts.

Typically, the work they bill for demands significant time and focus. It’s also the work they’ve spent their career developing deep, specialist skills so they can do it exceptionally well. It’s little surprise that having a sales-focused chat with clients rarely makes it to the top of their list of priorities.

You could spend a lot of resources training them on selling and it might improve, for a time, before the next caseload or audit rolls around and steals their focus. Training also requires time, and we all know this is not something Partners have, especially to spend on marketing, a non-fee-earning activity. So, how do you get them to sell, without demanding a lot of time? The answer is to tap into what they already have in swathes – their knowledge.

An interview to steal their gems of thought takes a hell of a lot less time than trying to turn them into something they’re simply not (and a lot less hitting-head-against-brick-wall for you).

Turning their knowledge, opinion, and ideas into a stellar piece of marketable content is a good use of everyone’s resources. One piece of content can be shared in any which way you like: be it a think piece, podcast, Instagram story, or breakfast seminar (when we can have events again!); it can be used to target both prospective and existing clients; it can be used time and time again in different formats and across different channels.

A (well-written, well-executed) single piece can result in a multi-touch, omnichannel marketing campaign. Bang-for-buck is high. It ticks all the boxes of new, up- and cross-selling, whilst letting your Partners get on with the work they love doing and at which they excel.

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