Product Managers and the Fear of Selling

Most product managers and product marketers I know have a fear of — or at least a strong dislike of — selling.

They find selling unpleasant and often think they are bad at it.  Especially the closing the deal part.

Alas, this fear/revulsion of selling is perhaps the biggest obstacle that’s stopping product managers and product marketers from successfully going independent and becoming product consultants.

Believe me, I understand it. I had it too. For me, this fear came from time in the corporate world, where colleagues in Sales frequently made broad statements like “Product Management (or Marketing, or anyone really) knows nothing about how to sell,” etc….  Unfortunately, I bought it, and later had to train myself out of that way of thinking.

It is true, the most skilled Sales people can close deals for products that they don’t like and don’t really understand.  In the same situation, most Product Managers are not skilled enough to close a deal.

But selling products and selling solo consulting work are completely different.

First, realize that in consulting work, you are not selling a "product". You are selling YOURSELF and your ability to truly help a client. And selling yourself is definitely something that you’ve done before: when you did job interviews, when you applied for college, etc.  Selling consulting work is much more like interviewing for a job than selling a product. If you can get a job, then you can sell yourself and your ability to help out.

Second, if the thought of sales gives you hives, don’t think of it as “selling.” Instead focus on finding ways to TRULY HELP this prospective client. Aim to be of genuine service, not to close a deal.

Sue Raisty

Product management geek, born-again engineer, adoptive mother of boys, coach & mentor, mountain trail runner, tinkerer, no-bull communicator, wannabe writer, room mother & compulsive researcher.

Silicon Valley, California http://blog.sueraisty.com