335 Ways to Make Your Professional Services Business SucceedApril 2, 2007
I’m sorry, but when an author quotes both Yoda and Yogi, they have me. And, when they quote from books I already admire, they keep me reading. Then, if they don’t apologize for being themselves, they end up captivating me. Suzi Pomerantz does all of these things in Seal the Deal!: The Essential Mindsets for Growing Your Professional Services Business
It didn’t start out that way. I don’t like reading business books. For me, the worst day with a good mystery novel is better than the best day with a fat business book.
So, I did what I do with most business books. I stalled. Maybe the basement needed cleaning. Perhaps the attic (do we even have an attic?!) needed more insulation. Anything to delay the inevitable.
I’m not proud that it took two hours in the dentist chair to get me to do more than skim Seal the Deal! But, those were the two hours that made it happen. I found what so many business books are lacking. Beyond the content and practical down-to-earth advice, I found principles and values I could admire.
Let’s take an example. It’s one thing to write this:
“If you picked up this book looking for tips, tricks, gimmicks, magic, secret formulas or other marketing wizardry, you won’t find them here. There will be no manipulative or pressure techniques, fear tactics or slick shadiness of any kind. The system in this book is about honor and integrity, genuineness, authenticity and honesty.”
It’s another to deliver it on every one of the 335 pages of the book.
I started with her self-assessment quiz that pointed right away to my “growth potential” in salesmanship. It’s not that I don’t want to sell. It’s not that I don’t know how important selling is for our own professional services business. It’s not that I haven’t attended tons of sales workshops, listened to endless selling CD’s and read other books about selling. Well, whatever it is, let’s just say selling is not what I do best.
So, I skipped right to the chapter “Calling Prospects and Setting Up the First Meeting” and then moved on to the following chapter, “Handling Gatekeepers and Objections.” The next day, I did 30 sales calls (which, for those of you with a scorecard, is about quintuple my average gross daily production).
Why was I so motivated? Because those two chapters had stuff to underline and extra worksheets and templates at the end of each chapter filled with practical, down-to-earth content. Content, that’s the word. Practical stuff I could do right away – not new systems I had to spend time adopting, new software I had to spend time learning or new stuff I had to buy.
And, she supports her own ideas with the best of the best ideas from other people – books, quotations and support materials. For selling, I’d heard it said a number of ways before, but Suzi quoted Sam Horn’s line from TongueFu that “a sole proprietor is a sale proprietor,” and that a solo practitioner is a sales practitioner. I don’t know, maybe it was the Novocain, but it worked for me.
I also felt at home in this book because some of the references were to books and authors I already knew (like Robert Cialdini’s Influence and Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz’s The Power of Full Engagement) and some of the quotes were from the greatest business thinkers of all time, like Yogi Berra: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up somewhere else.”
In the end, maybe those 30 calls came from Yoda in Star Wars: “Do or not do. There is no ‘try.’”
In no small part it’s the honesty and humility of Suzi’s approach. She believes that we all need to be who we are and to learn how to work best with ourselves. What a concept. She must practice what she preaches, because at the beginning of her book, she thanks Felice Wagner for helping her to “shift my own mindset about sales and selling.” She’s herself. No apologies; no pretence.
Beyond the practical advice, you’ll also find deeper, more advanced business theory. For example, in our workshops we talk about Thomas Friedman’s book, The World is Flat, and how the Internet is changing everything, especially the playing field of competition. That means, today, it’s not as much about competition as it is about cooperation. In her book, Suzi puts it this way: “The idea is one of collaboration with competitors, or turning competitors into partners, by building alliances and joint ventures as a business development strategy.”
Her theory of how competition can be transformed into cooperation informs her entire relationship networking approach, and she believes every word of it. She told us in an interview, “The give and take of services with other professionals is the very definition of networking.” Wow.
The book says coaching is a “$1 Billion industry and second in growth only to information technology.” In such a high-growth industry, it’s hard to know who to trust. Read Seal the Deal!: The Essential Mindsets for Growing Your Professional Services Business. It’s integrity from the coaches’ corner – on every page. I know; because I’m starting over on Page 1.
Note to the Denver Coach Federation: Sheryl and I presented a workshop at the March meeting of the Denver Coaches Federation. We offered a free copy of Seal the Deal! to the first DCF coach in attendance that night who called or emailed us when this review was posted. The race is on! We’ll announce the winner in an additional comment to this article.