The February 2006 issue of The American Lawyer contains a terrific article by Charles Green --"Selling by Doing." Green is the author of Trust-Based Selling and the article comes from his book. Green recounts the story told by a General Counsel of a Fortune 50 company:
We needed to hire outside counsel; we looked at a dozen firms, narrowed it to three, and invited them for 90 minute presentations.
The first two were very good; they had solid expertise and industry knowledge and they had done their homework.
Then came firm three. They said, 'We have 90 minutes with you . We can either do a standard capabilities presentation--which we're very happy to do--or we can try something different. We suggest that we get started on the job, right now--as if you had already given us the contract--and begin the job, right here, right now. After 85 minutes, we'll stop and you'll have firsthand experience of exactly how it feels to work with us.'
What's your reaction to this approach? Here's what the GC thought:
Well, we did their little exercise. It was quickly clear they were competent. But as we worked with them, we also got to know them better; instead of giving answers to questions, we had a dialogue. And for our part, instead of giving stock responses, we began to open up too. We felt what it was like to work with them. They came to listen and to work, and to show their smarts in real time, on our issues, not to report on theirs. You just felt you could trust them.
Here's how Green characterized it: "A common mistake of the salesperson is to continue behaving as if they are in the screening process when it comes time to work the selection process. They keep marketing the firm when they should be selling the salesman."
By the way, the author's use of this article to show what's in his book led me to buy it. Good marketing Charles!