By Christine Hollinden

Sales, business development, practice development – whatever you call the process, chances are you or your team members are either really good or are floundering.

If you identify with the latter, then you can relate to this scene in the movie Tommy Boy, where Chris Farley describes how he ruins the sale each time he’s in front of a client. You may have felt this way at least once when trying to close a deal – especially during a lean economy.

Much like Farley’s character, when you’re too eager to close the deal, you end up reeking of desperation. Prospects sense desperation the moment you walk in the door. When you are desperate, the prospect holds the power. A simple, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and you’re out the door.

Do you frequently find yourself in this situation? If so, the key is to shift the power and move from desperation to confidence.

Confidence stems from strong positioning. Begin by examining your firm’s positioning statement – the testament of your firm’s expertise. Solid positioning eliminates perceived competition in the prospect’s mind.

Here are five keys to determine if your firm has solid positioning:

  • Is it different? Competitors cannot make the same claim.
  • Is it demonstrative? The claim can be verified.
  • Is it sustainable? The area of expertise is one with opportunity.
  • Is it uncomfortable? Declaring a market positioning makes you both scared and excited.
  • Is it true? Strong positioning is backed by knowledge and the willingness to turn down a prospect when they fall outside of that expertise.

If your positioning statement fails any one of these questions, you have some work to do.

Furthermore, selling your services isn’t about persuading. It’s about finding the best fit. Farley’s character was constantly in a state of desperation with all power resting solely with the prospect. When you shift the power to focus on finding the best fit, you’ll find yourself saying “no” more than “yes” to new opportunities.

Sound counterintuitive? When you say “no” and stay true to your expertise, something amazing will happen. Prospects will try to convince you that they would make a great client and are a fit. That not only gives you more power in the relationship, but it elevates your expertise and the value of your services.

Stand tall and proclaim your expertise. Doing so makes your firm stronger in the long run.