Why the Best Consultants Are Terrible Salespeople

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This posting isn't autobiographical; really, it isn't.

Thanks to William Mougayar's excellent "Startup Management" weekly curation of articles, I came across this interesting article on customer support vs. sales. They have a simple suggestion. Before you agree to a sale, call the company line and try to get customer support. Will it be as easy to reach someone as it is in sales? If it is, this is a company that values you after they have your money, not just before.

Unfortunately, very few companies work like this. To understand why, go into a company, and see who gets the glory, and the compensation: the sales staff or the customer support staff? Who is the star, the VP Sales or VP Customer Care?

Companies correctly value the need and challenges in bringing on board new customers, the "hunt." But the importance of satisfying existing customers often falls by the wayside. Sales people who close deals are "heroes," while customer support people who solve a vexing problem are "just doing their job."

Before you sign any deal, you want to know how you will be treated once you are a customer, and the smooth salesman has moved on to his next prospect.

The best consultants are those who find little enjoyment in finding and signing new clients, but get an adrenaline rush from solving a vexing problem for one who is already signed on. They live for the client success, not for the thrill of the kill. This tends to make the best consultants those who will turn over worlds, fly at a moment's notice and pull all-nighters to help a client problem, but will consistently delay a sales call for an existing customer.

This posting isn't autobiographical... not really!