5 Keys Transcript Part 6 of 6

Back to Part 6 - 5 Keys To Becoming A Successful Consultants as a Software Developer

Part 6, Key 5.

Welcome to Sales and Marketing

Transcript for Part 6 

Scott: Hey everybody. Scott here with motivatedcodepro.com. Thanks for coming back. This is video number six in a six part series about becoming a successful consultant as a software developer. Today, we’re going to talk about marketing and sales. Stay with me.
 
This last section, this final video is really entitled Welcome to Marketing and Sales. I want to say this perhaps the most difficult thing for software people, technology people in general that are really technical people often have a difficult time selling and marketing and being out there in a way that builds business. Seasoned sales people, they take … It’s like anything else. They take a long time to develop their skill. We, as software people, have taken a long time to develop ours. What’s tough about being an entrepreneur in this setting, if you’re a consultant, you have to have some selling skills. You have to be willing, let me say that. That’s a big part of it. I want to start with the word entrepreneur, which I think is I don’t care a lot for the word, but you as a self employed businessperson.
 
Remember, you are a business and your time is money and you need to treat it like money. Entrepreneur, it carries the connotation or has the connotation of being glamorous and wonderful and life is good and sports cars and fast life and all this. The truth is as entrepreneur, it’s a grind. It is late nights. It is early mornings. It is wearing a lot of hats. It is doing a lot of things to take your baby, your business, and move it forward. We’ve talked about your skills and experience. That’s almost the least of it. That’s what you’re selling, but there’s so much else that you have to be prepared for and the marketing and selling is so important. Now, so for marketing, we’ve talked quite a bit about social media throughout this series.
 
I’m not going to park there for much, but I want to just remind you that you need to be busy there. Start your blog or work with your blog, be consistent with your blog, pay attention to your YouTube channel, pay attention to my YouTube channel. These are things that you got to do from a marketing standpoint, but selling really involves getting in front of somebody or getting on the phone with somebody and having a natural conversation about why you can help your customer. That’s not an easy thing to do. Chances are if you’re a technology person that you’ve lived a life in technology if you’ve moved up through the corporate ladder at any level that you’ve had to sell lots of ideas over and over again.
 
This is an augmentation of that fact. I’ve heard a lot of people say I can’t sell. I’m not going to sell. The reason I don’t do what you’re doing, Scott, or one of the reasons is I don’t feel like I can sell and I really felt like that too when I started and I am not a natural salesperson. I’m not an expert in marketing. But, I’ve learned enough to know that I need to tend the garden of sales, so to speak, and marketing like we talked about in previous videos. I have to believe that I can sell. After 11 years, I’ve learned enough about the process and working with people outside of just the building software aspect, which is what we sell here as a company. It’s what I sold as an individual at first.
 
You need to learn to sell and at some point, you’re going to have to ask somebody for money. You’re going to have to say this is going to take nine months and it’s going to cost this much money and you need to give me this much down and all of those negotiation tactics are a subject for another video coming up. But, when it comes to selling, you need to be able to get in front of people and have those kinds of conversations. I want to say email, it is not a sales vehicle. It’s a way to dot I’s and cross T’s, perhaps, but when it comes to selling, you need to be able to read the person that you’re talking with and I want you to be in front of them if you can. In the world that we live in today, many times that’s not possible, you’re going to be on the phone.
 
But, don’t do it with email when it comes to any of the negotiation parts of it. Selling and being an entrepreneur and going down this road of consultancy isn’t for everybody. If you don’t have a tolerance for risk, it’s going to be very, very difficult because at some point, we put it all on the line as business people, as entrepreneurs. It’s not just you and your ability to write code now. It’s you and your ability to do business to make progress as a businessperson and to sell. If you can’t sell, perhaps your whole livelihood is on the line, your family, your wife, you kids, your dogs, cats and everything else, your spouse or whoever, your significant person, all of that’s at risk when you do this and I think it’s so important that you recognize this going in.
 
I’m not trying to scare people, but it’s the reality of it, man. Like I said in a previous video, you get down the road a contract or two and you’re like what am I going to do to find the next one? What am I going to do? I’ve got three people that I put to work on this contract. How do I keep them busy? All of those things can be the source of lost sleep and it can be really scary and so I just want you to recognize that those things are there. You have to have a stomach for that and the person that you’re with if you’re in a partnership or marriage or whatever, those people have to be willing to share that with you, so it’s not easy and it’s not for everyone. What a lot of people do, and I’ve seen a lot of really good people go down this road, they go to work for another consultancy.
 
Or they go to work for a consultancy that’s out there, where they have somebody that’s selling and they’re really good technical people don’t want to sell, don’t care to sell, don’t want to risk everything they’ve ever worked for so they can have their own business. It’s not for everybody and so you need to really know who you are as a person. This is one reason, one other reason. At the every beginning, I talked about five years of experience being oh so important. I hope that what I’ve just said about some of the complexity, the need to sell, the risk you take with your livelihood and your life in general, all of that makes more sense out of why it’s important to have five years.
 
You need to bring as much to this as you can. Again, back to the consultancy. Some people will go to work for a consultancy and it’s kind of the perfect middle ground between being self employed and having the nine to five. You get to work on lots of projects. You might be able to make a little more money in that because that’s a little risky or it’s not the same risk as being self employed, not usually. You get a lot of the benefit of it. You surround with your team a lot of times. Ultimately, if you’re building a business, part of your job is to build a team, but if you don’t want to go down that road you can step into a team in the form of a consultancy and sometimes that’s a really good way to go for people that don’t have the want-to to take on the whole I want to be a business entrepreneur idea or maybe it’s not the right time in their life.
 
That’s another important component as well. One of the other things too that I want to say about selling is that sometimes, and I was guilty of this at first, anytime I was in a position where I had to sell something, I felt like I needed to kind of [Zig Ziglar-ize 00:07:59] myself. Like I said, I’m not a sales professional, but what I’ve learned by watching people that are really good and that are salespeople, they tend to be … They’re themselves before the sales call, during the sales visit, and after the sales call and all the followup stuff that are just they bring whatever quirks and personality flavor they have and they just are themselves. I think that’s the trick, if there is one, is to just bring you to the sales process.
 
Look, if you sell into something with you Zig Ziglar-ized version of you and then you show up or you’re on the contract and you’re just Scott programmer in my case or whatever, it creates this sense of wow, he’s this weird sales guy or this big salesy guy and then now he’s just Joe programmer. I don’t know. I’m just saying be yourself. It’s often said you don’t get a second chance to create a first impression and so that tends to lead us down the road of let me do all of this preparation and bang myself into something that I think is palatable for somebody to then spend money with me. Really, what you need to do is create a consistent impression. Your first impression should be basically the same as your second, third, and 300th impression with your customer.
 
Because when you get past the sales process, it’s just you and the work. It’s you and your team. It’s you and your ability to manage conflict and difficulty and work through issues and bang out projects, which is what we’re all about as software people and we bring it all back to that point. We’re software people, but when we step out as consultants, we take on a lot of stuff that’s outside of our core discipline. Sales and marketing is one of them. Last thing I want to talk about is negotiation. Like I said, we’ll do a whole other video on this, but you do have to put yourself in a position to be able to ask for the money. You do need to know how to follow up with people. This is where you can use email, but I think I still like the phone personally.
 
I know other people have differences of opinion, but follow up. Just because people haven’t gotten back to you doesn’t mean they’ve lost interest. It means they’re busy. Maybe they have lost interest, but you need to get them on the phone and let them tell you that or that they’ve moved on or that they hired somebody else or whatever. Because your final impression with a prospect should never hear that you’re broken because they didn’t hire you. They should hear well if you need us in the future, if there’s anything we can do for you going forward, if they’re any questions I can answer, I’d be happy to help you find success with your project. Your mission is to help them and I think if he contract doesn’t go your way and you don’t make the sale, you want to show that you’re professional and that you’re here to help them because you never know when somebody is going to come back to you.
 
We’ve had this happen multiple times where people have made a decision and then have changed course for a variety of reasons and then come back to us. I think because of the way that I handled the situation on first exit was why there was a second entrance. I wasn’t angry or crushed with disappointment and those are feelings that you have when it doesn’t go well, but you need to be a professional and just try to help the customer even though they’ve chosen to go a different route. I hope that was helpful. That’s a little bit about marketing and sales. There’s a lot to cover. The well is so deep when it comes to marketing and selling and there’s a ton of good information out there about it.
 
There’s more and more information about selling into technology that’s public that people like me that have put a lot of content out there that you can benefit from and you need to avail yourself of that. Selling is like programming in that the more you do it, practice, practice, practice, the better you get at it, the more comfortable you get doing, and the easier it is to move in and out of deals and to be a part of the sales process while you’re part of the programming process and while you’re part of managing people and being with your CPA and keeping track of all of the many things that we’ve talked about throughout this series. That’s it. Please like and subscribe and hit the bell, so you don’t miss any videos.
 
I am Scott with motivatedcodepro.com. Please come to the blog and check out the section I did. There’s another blog post for this video and then if you’re willing to give me your email address, I’ll send you the whole eBook that covers the entire thing. I’d be grateful for that and I hope this was good for you. I’m going to do lots of video on all these topics are very deep, so we’ll keep going. I’m Scott. Keep coming back. I’ll see you on the next video.

Take the Leap Into Successful Consulting

Stepping into your own consultancy is a big step indeed—one to be taken with care and caution. Make sure you are ready and that the timing is right with the rest of your personal priorities.

After years of software work, it’s your skill and experience that got you here. Stay sharp and go even deeper with the software development choices that paved the way for you.

Writing for blogs and posting on social media will help keep you here. Carve out time for this activity so it becomes part of your daily business process.

Staying in touch with your software development friends and keeping your business contacts warm will keep your prospects hot for finding new work.

Good businesses function as a team. Your CPA and business attorney will keep the business end of your venture healthy and accountable.

In the end, your willingness to market and sell will not only keep you in business, but will also allow you to grow your consulting practice and thrive. You have to get paid to succeed, so your ability to ask for the sale will make you a true entrepreneur and a successful consultant as a software developer.

As I inferred at the beginning of this article, each of these five keys is a deep topic, worthy of a lot more ink than I have spilled here.

In closing, I hope you are inspired to dig deep and ask yourself the important questions about becoming a successful consultant as a software developer.

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About the Author Scott Salisbury

Scott is the creator of Motivated Code Pro and the Managing Partner of Pinch Hitter Solutions, Inc. Motivated Code Pro is devoted to helping developers build better software careers. Pinch Hitter Solutions (phs4j.com) is a consultancy focused on mobile app development and enterprise web work. Scott works primarily in Java and JavaScript and focuses on Spring and Ext JS.

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