In my last post I introduced the statistic that 27% of purchasers search online when looking for a provider of management consulting services (also see chart below).
It doesn’t sound like a big number, especially when so many web users are accustomed to activities like online shopping. But buying and selling professional services, like management consulting, goes way beyond buying commodity-like products on Amazon. When you consider that the 27% is more than twice as high as buyer searches for other professional services, there has to be a good reason why so that sellers can maximize their online lead generation efforts.
From a deeper review of the data in the Hinge Research Institute’s How Buyer’s Buy Management Consulting, there are a couple of reasons. At a top level, buyers are more inclined toward online search because, unlike a service such as accounting, the definition of management consulting can be broad. To some, it may involve topics like market entry, organizational development, program management, human resources, or training. The lack of specificity around the definition of management consulting leads many buyers to go online and search for details about a service and provider within their niche; for sellers, a strategy to generate leads online needs to ensure the right content about their management consulting niche is informative and discoverable.
Additionally, management consulting is not a frequent purchase among buyers. They buy to address an occasional need. Once the problem is solved, they move on to other issues. So, buyers can be forced to wait until after the work is completed in order to determine the quality of a management consultant. Put another way, to minimize risk of hiring the wrong firm, they look online for specialized skills and validation of a firm’s reputation.
It also is worth noting that 91% of management consulting buyers turned first to friends and colleagues for referrals. Even with this dominant practice, many buyers still conduct online research to confirm what they hear from other sources.
The conclusion here for buyers is to make sure you are dealing with a firm that has a visible, reputable brand, both online and in traditional venues. For sellers, generating leads online means making that brand strong and findable. For other insight on what the research uncovered about how sellers can better position themselves in front of buyers, see the full report.