The most unusual source to learn about winning consultancy sales

Recently I adopted an 11 week old border collie puppy, Harry.

Over the next 18-24 months I will develop him for Working Trials competitions. There are no sheep involved. These type of trials were originally based on testing a dogs capability for police work. Now they’re a demanding dog sport enjoyed by civilians.

This is my second Working Trials dog. Here’s what I learnt about winning through working with the first one.

  1. Engaging smart, high-drive individuals (dogs!) who are already motivated is fun. Working with low-drive middle management plodders isn’t.
  2. Graduate beyond trainers who offer general know-how. Find a top coach and get advice and guidance for your specific situation and issues. You also want someone to encourage you and hold you accountable.
  3. Learn from your failures. It’s easy to blame a client (dog trial judge!) who doesn’t ‘get it’. Believe me they get it. You just didn’t convince them you have it! Stop being defensive and debrief all losses to figure out where you went wrong … and what to change next time.
  4. Practice. Deliberate practice. Perfect practice. This is how the best get better. They break down the process into micro-components and then set about perfecting each part. Then bring them all together and assemble them into a perfect whole.
  5. Test yourself before the client does. Work through various curved ball situations a client might throw at you. I was once asked by a Working Trials judge to have my dog speak (bark) on command … while I sat in a chair 20 feet away, facing away from my dog so she couldn’t see my face. What will you do when the client asks you to present to their board at a moments notice, with no pitch deck?

The mini-mission this week is to think about your own non-work interests. What have you learnt that’s applicable to the world of winning consultancy?