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Selling Professional Services
Professional services sales organizations face an increasingly competitive landscape as new entrants seek to capture market share.
As a result, sales professionals are working harder to maintain their existing client base while reaching further to reach new prospective clients and earn new customers. Managing both goals means meeting ever-increasing customer expectations.
Customer expectations are increasing not only in volume but in complexity.
A varied client base demands equally diverse solutions as more customers seek a customized approach to their needs. Innovations in technology have emboldened customers to push their professional service providers to deliver more quality. It’s no surprise to see that 30% of professional service firms report “new innovative products” as a primary source of disruption.
These emerging trends are forcing professional service firms to reevaluate how they pursue new business.
This process begins with an unflinching look at the central problems of a changing industry.
Challenges Facing Professional Services Sales Professionals
There are four key challenges facing modern professional services sales teams. Here we explore each of these challenges.
Firms Can’t Wait For Clients
Technology creates a leveling effect by reducing the barriers to entry. Therefore, smaller, more agile newcomers are entering the professional services industry. With this breadth of choices, customers are weighing more options.
Professional service firms are learning that they can no longer rely on a passive sales strategy and wait for customers to walk through the door. As more firms awaken to this reality their efforts to maintain and grow market share increase leading to even more competition.
Automation Presents New Challenges
Research from Wharton shows that in the last 40 years approximately one-third of the companies holding a spot as a Fortune 1000 firm have disappeared from the list. Moreover, projections estimate that just one-third of today’s major corporations will survive over the next 25 years.
In short, the future belongs to those who adapt. The cause of this attrition is, in large part, due to automation.
Professions like accounting, programming and even legal services, once thought to be immune to automation, are becoming increasingly susceptible to digitization. Sellers must demonstrate how their solutions can compete.
Base Retention Doesn’t Spark Reinvention
Professional services firms often agree that keeping a customer is far easier than earning a new one. For this reason, businesses often focus their resources on account management. Meanwhile, new customers, necessary for long-term growth, get less attention.
Competitors seize this opportunity. Without a reach for new customers, professional service firms lose market share, and eventually, they lose relevancy.
The Emergence of Outcome-Based Solutions
More buyers are attempting to develop solutions without outside help. This trend stems from tightening budgets, increasingly risk-averse stakeholders and waning trust in sellers.
These factors have given rise to outcome-based engagements in which buyers demand guaranteed results. With such intensified focus on results, sellers face the challenge of articulating the effectiveness of their solutions.
Sales Training Programs For Professional Sellers
To overcome these challenges organizations tasked with selling professional services need custom training for sales professionals and management training to improve sales performance by focusing on building selling skills that help sales professionals connect with buyers and drive momentum to the close of the sale.
Here we explore some of these specific sales skills in greater detail:
Deliver a concise and compelling message of value.
Sellers must deliver a concise and compelling message of value. Most importantly, the messaging must resonate with the specificity of the customer’s need.
Reaching this end starts with effective questioning that uncovers the nuances of a customer’s challenge. High performing sales professionals can do this by asking incisive questions that demonstrate a more sophisticated understanding of the customer’s business.
This approach helps outperform the competition by earning the right to go deeper in the customer dialogue.
Elicit customer feedback, learning the customer’s decision-making process and resolving objections sellers effectively get to the root of the problem.
While an algorithmic approach might appeal to a buyer’s sense of expediency, it rarely delivers the depth needed in solving complex, long-term problems. Firms can succeed despite a rise in automation by bringing more information into the picture as the sales process progresses.
By eliciting customer feedback, learning the customer’s decision-making process and resolving objections sellers effectively get to the root of the problem in a way that a one-size-fits all automated approach cannot.
Effectively position services to differentiate themselves from the competition.
Firms can reinvigorate growth with a renewed focus effectively positioning products and services offered. Taking this approach doesn’t necessitate developing new products. Rather, through better preparation sellers can develop cogent connections that trace a straight line from their offering to the customer’s challenges.
The idea is to get the customer to view your product from the right perspective. Effective positioning goes beyond a simple review of features and benefits. Listening carefully to the customer will offer you an “in” which reveals where your product fits into the narrative of their problem.
At Richardson, we understand the challenges professional services sales organizations face and how to achieve desired outcomes because we work with leading domestic and global professionals services firms every day.
It is the challenges facing sellers today that keep us committed to our work: helping sales organizations improve their performance, make stronger connections with customers, and gain confidence in their power to sell.