4 Must-have Selling Skills to Thrive in Today’s Innovation Economy

by Deb Knupp /

Professional service providers who both provide a service and sell that service to potential clients—we call them “doer-sellers”—face a tough challenge. Traditional sales “strategies” are often ineffective in this specific context, but most doer-sellers don’t know what to replace them with and conclude that sales isn’t for them. The truth is that these providers face an exciting opportunity to innovate both how they sell and how they do their work. The two go hand in hand. Here’s what doer-sellers must do to nurture relationships with clients that lead to growth in today’s innovation economy:


1 – Navigate the buyer-seller paradox. Most sellers attempt to persuade buyers by making a rational argument that their service is the best solution. But GrowthPlay’s research on the science of sales tells us that buyers make decisions based on “gut feel.” This problem—the mismatch between sellers’ and buyers’ behaviors—is called the buyer-seller paradox. Skilled sellers understand that they must appeal to the buyer’s emotion (trust, confidence, hope, joy, pain) before transitioning to the offer of a rational solution. Clients really want you to understand not just what they need but why it is important to them. When sellers can articulate how they will help buyers be better or different in the future, they can transform a merely transactional interaction into a more authentic relationship.


To learn more about the buyer-seller paradox, check out our blog:
Qualities of a High-performing seller #3: Understanding the buyer-seller paradox.



2 – Engage in client-focused messaging. Marketing based solely on your need to sell is superficial and ineffective. Highly effective sellers know that in order to create memorable and fruitful messaging they must first understand the client or prospect’s top priorities. What does the client want to accomplish? What are the value drivers, and what metrics does the client use to evaluate their position in the marketplace? Armed with this information, the seller can then communicate a value proposition and share success stories that are tailored to the client’s particular needs.


For tips on how to engage in client-focused messaging read our blog:
Qualities of a high-performing seller #1: Sales as an act of service.



3 – Embrace client-centered communication. Sales gets a bad reputation when sellers “stalk” potential clients with self-interested emails and phone calls. Instead, sellers should focus their outreach and follow-up communication on empathizing with prospects’ challenges, generously offering their network and skills (even when it doesn’t lead to a sale right away), and forming an authentic bond. Next time the prospect is looking to buy a service, she is more likely to call a seller who helped her in the past than one who treated every conversation like a transaction.


To learn how client-centered communication can help you become a trusted advisor read our blog:
Lawyers need to focus on business outcomes when communicating with clients.



4 – Honor the role of preparation. Value your prospect’s time (and your own) by doing the work to get clear on their objectives, hone your own messaging, anticipate questions and articulate definitive next steps before you meet or connect with a potential buyer. Not only does this communicate authentic investment in their needs, but it also puts you in a position to shape the engagement and lead with your strengths.


For tips for to help you prepare for your prospect meeting, read our blog:
The importance of understanding your client’s business.



When sales becomes an act of service, professional service providers and clients both benefit, cementing relationships that will position you well in today’s innovation economy and yield exciting work well into the future.