Tip of the Week #161 – Draw the Distinction Between Sales and Consultancy

Tip of the Week #161 – Draw the Distinction Between Sales and Consultancy

Sales Manager John Mullins speaks from experience when he advises you to avoid this common conundrum before it happens with a new ERP implementation project.

How often have we seen this happen? It’s kickoff day of a new project. The consultant arrives to begin the real work of an implementation, and the sales person is by now long gone, chasing other deals.  The first thing the client asks of the consultant is to do a “short demo – since a lot of our people have not seen the system before.”

One of three things typically happens:

  1. The consultant attempts a sales-style demo and it falls horribly flat – leaving the team at the new company full of doubt about installing a new system
  2. The consultant declines to do so, but this results in unhappy phone calls from the client to the sales person
  3. They do a demo and it actually goes well

I am going to focus on #1 and #2 – since I have yet to meet a salesman who would be a good implementer (and vice versa) – but wanted to put it out there just in case you’re lucky enough to have one!

It’s important to set your client’s expectations upfront, on who is coming and what work that they are there to do.  We have some of the best and brightest consultants in the business, but they are not adept in the sales process, nor are they supposed to be.  Occasionally that fact gets lost and the client is expecting a consultant to demo and basically sell the system to colleagues who have not seen it before.


More often than not this results in an angry customer and a series of calls/emails asking, “What’s going on here?  Your consultant can’t even do a demo, how is he/she going to install the system?”

It’s important for the sales person, the consultant, and the client to have a “hand-off” call.

On a side note – having spent a career in sales, I always hated these because I viewed them as unproductive time which could be better spent chasing a new lead or trying to close another sale. But I was seriously mistaken about the importance of these hand-off meetings.

All it takes is one short call to explain who is coming and what their skill set is, and all chaos is avoided on day one. And be blunt about it – it’s not like you’re delivering bad news – you’re eliminating confusion from the outset.

Let the client know that the person coming in doesn’t work in sales and therefore won’t be prepared to do things that are part of the sales process. Demos and pricing discussions should not occur during this phase of an implementation, and being sure your clients understand this upfront will make everyone’s life much easier and lead to a more successful project.

Thank you John!

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