Having recently been contacted to work with a professional services firm to advise on breaking through a sales plateau, I though I would share some must do’s for maximising sales in the professional services sector.
Admittedly, sales is not seen as the demon task it used to be within the professional services environment. Now Partners, Associates and Fee Earners are aware that simply servicing the clients immediate needs is good business, this must be closely followed by forming a relationship, building networks, getting to know the clients, and becoming the first port of call the next time a trusted adviser is required.
Here are some of the action points that came out of the initial audit with my client. All very simple things to implement, the value comes in consistently and quantifiably employing these skills and measuring the outputs.
1. Remove the silo mentality – agree that each division should make a set number of agreed referrals/introductions across the firm, each week/month..and ensure the outputs are tracked
2. For each division, select your ‘best’ clients (it’s up to you to define what best means to you) and select 10 organisations that are similar and decide how you will engage the new organisations and with what pitch, who will do it and by when
3. Ensure all new customers are taken though a fact find and their details collected and stored centrally…this resource should be worked strategically by the firm on a continuous basis
4. Internally insist that this new activity is not about sales…it is about relationships, it is about getting to know clients and building trust, it is about being the first port of call when they are looking for a trusted advisor
5. Select a hand full of choice prospects that the firm would dearly love to work with – maybe no more than 10 prospects on the list – work out an engagement strategy and stick to it….it may take 2 months, 2 years…that’s why the prospects that make it on to this list should be jewels, life changing clients for you to recruit and bring on board. These will be firm changing clients…invest time and effort in bringing them to the table
6. Selectively network…very selectively…and make sure you follow up
7. Contact all lapsed clients, re-engage, re-introduce, re-pitch…ask for their business
8. Encourage skills sharing around the business, some people will have better skills in this area so ensure that strategies that are working and bringing success are shared
9. Measure effort – know what you want to achieve, and by when and who is responsible. Accountability rules.
Culturally, this can seem at odds with the professional sector and the people that are employed within such firms. Often I am asked if it is wise to outsource such activity as sales and new business development. My answer is always the same. You can’t start a relationship by proxy.
For more information about building a sustainable sales pipeline of prospect, maximising client relationships and building profitable relationships look out for Building Relationships for Professional Service Firms – available at the end of July. To get your copy delivered to you inbox email firstname.lastname@example.org with Increasing Sales In Professional Service Firms in the subject line.
Carol Griffiths – Lead Consultant – Morton Kyle Limited -0779 002 1885