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The Neuroscience Behind Embracing Sales for Subject Matter Experts in Professional Services

In the realm of professional services, subject matter experts (SMEs) play a crucial role in delivering value to clients and top-line impact to their firm. However, many SMEs shy away from actively engaging in sales-related activities, viewing it as outside their expertise or comfort zone. This reluctance can hinder business development and limit opportunities for growth. In this blog, we delve into the neuroscience behind how to enable SMEs to embrace their impact on the firm's growth through their business development efforts.

1. Address The Fear Factor

When faced with the prospect of selling, the amygdala can trigger fear responses, leading to avoidance behaviors. This fear is often rooted in the perception of sales as pushy, manipulative, or uncomfortable.


2. Cognitively Reframe Selling

Use cognitive restructuring techniques to challenge negative beliefs about sales. Encourage SMEs to identify and reframe thoughts like "sales is pushy" or "I'm not good at selling" into more positive and empowering statements such as "sales is about matching clients in need with the best-fit solutions for them" or "I can learn and improve my sales skills to help more people".


3. Align Values with Sales

One of the reasons SMEs may resist sales is the perceived conflict between their expertise-driven values and outdated sales tactics. By reframing sales as a means to share expertise, solve client problems, and create value, SMEs can bridge this gap and embrace sales as a natural extension of their role and their incliation to build relationships.


4. Rewire the Sales Mindset

The brain's capacity for neuroplasticity enables individuals to rewire their thought patterns and behaviors through experience and learning. By consistently engaging in sales activities that align with their values, SMEs can reshape their neural pathways, reducing fear responses and enhancing confidence and comfort in sales-related activities. This process reinforces the idea that sales skills and mindsets are learnable and adaptable, empowering SMEs to take proactive steps in business development that can add to the collective success of their firm, their clients, and their teams.


In conclusion, shying away from "sales" is a growth hindrance for subject matter experts in professional services. By acknowledging and addressing the underlying brain-driven factors, SMEs can overcome their sales aversion or hesitancy, unlock new opportunities, and thrive in their roles as trusted advisors and industry leaders.

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