Professional service firms (PSFs) are unique in how they operate, earn new business and build a brand. Unlike all other industries and even when compared to business service firms, PSFs rely on their ability to build relationships on a very personal, one-to-one level.
Professional services are comprised of those companies that specialize in high-touch consultative services that typically require a degree, certification or another advanced level of education. Examples include lawyers, accountants, engineers, financial planners and management consultants.
What makes these types of firms unique is that they are typically hired by their clients based on a personal “fit.” You rarely hear “I hate my accountant but he/she is really good.” When hiring a new professional services firm, a large component of the decision-making process relies on how well you believe you will work with that company based on the individual service provider—a person, not the company as a whole. Please note, in the sentence above, I mentioned “a large component.” The firm’s brand, depth of services and expertise are also critically important, however, unique to PSFs is the individual human factor. This human factor is also why so many PSFs are structured as partnerships. Each partner is required to build their book of business and “sell.” It is also why you see a much smaller percentage of dedicated salespeople on their teams when compared to every other type of business.
How Will the Lockdown Economy Affect Professional Service Firms?
The growth of any organization is dependent on its ability to build a sales pipeline. At PSFs, that pipeline is built on human-to-human relationships and those relationships are built on face-to-face engagements such as networking, entertainment (golf, sports games, etc.), speaking and event sponsorships. With a lockdown in effect, the future growth of PSFs will be highly impacted in future months. Sales pipelines will begin to shrink and the impact of the global pandemic will not be fully felt until many months from now. As we discover that our most successful ways to build new business are now on hold, the question we must ask ourselves is, “How do we pivot to avoid the downward spiral?”
Three Simple Ways to Pivot for Growth
One-to-one communication is the most critical component when building relationships and sales pipelines. We must leverage the tools and technologies available to us today to replace the face-to-face experiences we are used to. We also must expand our personal networks, introductions and relationship-building opportunities.
Video is THE most engaging communication tool available today. Check out this article on video usage statistics. How can you use video to build your sales pipeline?
- Video Conference Networking For PSFs, referrals are one of the most influential aspects of new client acquisition. Replace face-to-face networking with video conference networking events. Three to four is the perfect number of attendees for making introductions and learning more about each other’s businesses. Corral people that you think would benefit from knowing each other and work to ensure everyone understands why you are recommending the introduction. Work with your external centers of influence to reciprocate and plan strategic introductions.
One-to-One Video Introductions Sending a standard email or LinkedIn connection request to qualified leads can be very helpful, but adding a personal, custom video to your message will drive much greater engagement and response.
- Thought Leadership How are you, as a person, responsible for new business development and adding value to your prospects and clients? Your firm may or may not have a strong marketing strategy but that does not mean that you cannot create a personal brand that drives new business opportunities.
As a producer, you need more introductions and more inquiries. One of the most productive ways to garner a larger sales pipeline is to build a personal brand. Forbes has a good article on personal brand building. Please note, this is a longer-term initiative. Results will not be achieved overnight.
We're here to help you pivot your strategies. Contact Chris today at 440.462.7480 to get started.