Why do we at Hinge love research so much? Because it takes a lot of the guesswork away from the “artful” practice of marketing. As providers of professional services, we all want to know how to get more business. We can postulate, strategize, and execute until we’re blue in the face without any results to show for it. Unless all that action is tied to research – and while there’s never a guarantee – I’ll take data-driven strategies over guesswork any day of the week.

That’s why I’m really excited to be talking about some of our most recent research that dives into the question of how to get more business – through the lens of the buyer. Our new study, How Buyers Buy, offers analysis of what 822 buyers of professional services said about things like how they build their lists, how they award contracts, and how they want to be marketed to. Overall, an introspective guide for sellers of professional services on how to get more business. We also broke out our analysis by vertical so I’ve been particularly focused on what buyers of technology services had to say. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Making the List: It’s all about your brand for buyers of tech services – 70% turn to their network of peers first to find out about tech services providers. Who does this kind of work? How well known is the firm? How good is their reputation? This clearly demonstrates the need for a good reputation and high visibility. In other words, a strong brand.

Note what gets mentioned next after turning to their network: online search. After learning about your brand through word of mouth, buyers are learning about your brand online. Brand. Matters.

  • Winning the Contract: Incumbents have the advantage for buyers of technology services. The existing relationship they have with their provider is the top deciding factor in awarding contracts. If you’re new to the buyer, they are likely to award based on experience or past performance

On the flip side, not delivering on your promise is likely how you will lose business. 59% of buyers mentioned factors relating to broken brand promises as the key things they are trying to avoid in a tech services provider.

– Lower quality work than promise

– Cost overruns

– Flat out not doing what you say you’ll do

  • Marketing Successfully: In terms of marketing, the preferred method for buyers of technology services is through a personal relationship. What’s the best way to do that if the buyer doesn’t know you yet? Educate, educate, educate by putting your content online. We know this is likely to be the first place they’ll turn after checking with their own network of peers to see who is out there.

These are just a few of the many findings we uncovered. We also interviewed sellers around the same set of questions, and the research reveals some alarming discrepancies between what buyers really think and what we as sellers think they think. But that’s for another post.

Check out the results and see how you match up against what buyers of technology services want by downloading of a copy of the report.

Elizabeth Harr