By shrinking the pond and tightening your market focus, you can enhance your capacity to interact with prospects over time. That yields trust and understanding, which results in a higher conversion rate.
The Seven Elements framework presented in “How Clients Buy” represents a list of ingredients essential for business development success. As such, they can be used to conduct a self-assessment of relative strengths and weaknesses at the firm, practice, or personal level.
Ostensibly, Greg Levine’s interview with Tom McMakin was about how to sell services. It ended up being a conversation about values, hiring for excellence, building slack into the system, the wisdom of peers, the purpose of business, and a professional life worth living.
The idea of a sales funnel is not just unhelpful in the world of professional services, the sales funnel is a distorted and misleading mental model. The sales funnel model causes otherwise smart people to do the wrong thing when trying to drive business development.
When researching “How Clients Buy,” Doug Fletcher and Tom McMakin interviewed dozens of successful rainmakers. Their subjects ranged from solo practitioners to managing partners of global consulting firms. Doug and Tom’s goal was to field test their business development hypotheses. In addition, as Doug explains, several themes regarding the essence of rainmaking emerged from their conversations.
Doug Fletcher, co-author of “How Clients Buy,” spoke with Barry Moltz, host of the Business Insanity Talk Radio podcast, about how selling professional services is different from—and harder than—selling tangible products.
By all means, create content. Share the good stuff. Use inbound marketing and marketing automation—mindfully—to build awareness and understanding of your firm and its capabilities. Just don’t neglect the importance of relationships and trust. For that, you need to get personal. A sharpened focus will make the effort easier, more productive, and personally satisfying.
When it comes to professional services, Tom McMakin believes trust is everything. That’s because information asymmetries are inherent in professional services. The service provider diagnoses the disease and provides the cure, the effects of which may take a long time to ascertain. Consequently, there is a very real risk of exploitation of the buyer by the seller. So, competence isn’t enough. A higher standard of trust is required.
Which is more important to professional service providers: marketing or selling skills? The answer is both, contrary to common assumptions about the value of division of labor. Solutions providers conduct research and product development (marketing functions) in the same instant they present and pitch (selling functions). The need for versatility makes professional services challenging and rewarding. Above all—according to Don Scales, the CEO of Investis—we must think.
The two most dangerous words in the world of professional services are, “No problem.” The attractiveness of an expert services practice goes up in direct proportion to the power of its niche. Tom McMakin recommends a whitepaper authored by Lee Frederiksen at The Hinge Group titled, “Differentiation Guide for Professional Services Firms.”
Doug Fletcher is one of the most likable people you’ll meet. His easy-going manner puts one at ease. So, it’s a bit jarring to hear Doug advise, “Forget about being likable.” Instead, Doug encourages us to do great work and take really good care of our clients. In his estimation, respect and trust trump likability.
The current uncertainty in our political environment compounded by disruption throughout industry is creating a climate ripe for consulting services. Traditionally, risk and opportunity have driven the need for companies to invest in consulting services and 2018 is offering a plethora of both.
When it comes to content marketing, if you hold back your “good stuff,” your efforts will be less effective. Your good stuff is, by definition, the most interesting stuff. If you hold back and offer up only your not-so-good-stuff, your offering will be less compelling.
Playing golf at the country club used to be an effective way to cultivate business relationships. That’s no longer true. Globalization and specialization have made selling professional services more difficult. That’s because trust may be more important than ever, and building trust across distance is hard.
Even if the primary purpose of your practice isn’t to make money, making money is a requirement for sustaining your practice. By definition, a sale is the exchange of a service for money. So why isn’t selling featured in the curricula of business schools—or any other professional schools?
In this second in a series of interviews, Andi Baldwin of Profitable Ideas Exchange interviews “How Clients Buy” co-authors, Tom McMakin and Doug Fletcher, about the framework they call, “The Seven Elements” of business development for professional services.
There is a sales stigma among professional service providers. In “Why We Hate Salespeople,” Tom McMakin encourages us to address this aversion head-on. Cultivate relationships, add value prior to the sale, and demonstrate trustworthiness.
In this first of a series of interviews, Andi Baldwin of Profitable Ideas Exchange asked “How Clients Buy” co-authors Tom McMakin and Doug Fletcher to explain the premise of the book and why they were compelled to write it.
Authenticity is critical to successfully engaging potential clients, but you can’t game it. You are who you are. That means authenticity comes at a cost. Nate Bennett explains why the benefits of authenticity far outweigh the costs.
Advertising professional services can help, but it’s a relatively poor investment. With the help of Walt Shill, Global Managing Partner for Client Services at ERM, Tom McMakin explains how it’s better to develop strategies and processes that can deliver real impact for your clients.