Every professional services firm faces the question of how to get more business from new and existing clients. There is seldom a simple answer.
But now a new piece of research provides real insight into the problem — and at last suggests some answers. In a recent webinar with Mike Schultz of the RAIN Group titled What Sales Winners Do Differently, we described this research and its implications on the professional services.
Last fall our research arm, Hinge Research Institute, collaborated with RAIN Group to conduct an innovative two-part study looking at the entire professional services marketing and sales process. To our knowledge, no study of this scope and depth has ever been attempted before.
In Part 1 of the study, Hinge interviewed 822 buyers of professional services and 533 sellers who were on different sides of the same relationship. The study covered multiple industry verticals and delved into a wide range of strategic branding and marketing issues. This webinar overviews key findings and reveals significant seller blind spots.
Part 2 of the study, RAIN Group looked at 700 sales transactions to identify what the sellers who won the client’s business did differently than the firms that came in second place. This study also looked at the impact of the sales process on subsequent client loyalty.
Here are some key highlights of the study's findings on how to get more business:
- Sales winners behave very differently than losers. They are more likely to educate their potential clients about new approaches, collaborate with them on possible solutions and persuade them that the solution will work. Losers rarely do any of these top behaviors.
- Having a good personal relationship with the client and providing a good solution to their problem (think solution selling) is necessary, but no longer sufficient. This has become more of a price of doing business. Not doing it can knock you out of the running. Doing it well keeps you in contention but no longer wins the client.
- Buyer satisfaction with the sales process is just as important as satisfaction with the service in driving buyer loyalty (intent to purchase again). This is huge. Think about it. Your marketing and sales process is just as important as the service you provide in driving client loyalty.
- Buyers prefer a collaborative process in which the seller provides new insights to help the buyer understand and solve its challenges. When the seller is more proactive it triples their likelihood of winning the client. This is very consistent with a content marketing approach to new business development.
- Good marketing makes winning new clients much easier. When you map the characteristics of sales winners against a content marketing approach you find the marketing provides the context and evidence necessary to win the sale. These tools include strong differentiators, case studies, research supporting your approach, ROI analysis and the like.
When you take these results together, a blueprint of how to get more business starts to emerge. Solutions and a smile are no longer enough. Buyers want to learn about better ways to solve their problems and collaborate on how to get them adopted by their organizations.
This is the antithesis of professional services as a commodity.
Here are some resources help you get more business for your firm:
- Hinge study on Buyers and Sellers
- Webinar discussing Buyer and Seller results
- Webinar on What Sales Winners Do Differently