Enhancing Your Sales Process for Professional Services
One question children are often asked is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Do you remember what you said? Professional athlete? Teacher? Veterinarian? Something that probably never came up – consultant. Yet here you are. You developed over your career and gained a lot of experience and knowledge that you are now poised to share with others to help them achieve their goals. And now, when you are much more comfortable doing and creating, you have to sell a product that a lot of people are uncomfortable selling – yourself. Where do you begin? How do you pitch a professional service? You need to establish your sales process for professional services.
Professional services sales strategy is different than selling a product. When selling a product, you have a tangible good to assess, but with services, you have a person. It involves trust and personal dynamics. The sales process for professional services is often complex, multilayered, and lengthy.
Sales Model for Professional Services
How do you sell professional services? Here is a general overview of the process and sales funnel for professional services:
- Lead generation – This is critical for any sales process. Some proven lead generation methods for the sales process for professional services include:
- Referrals: Referrals are the product reviews of professional services. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. You may even want to offer incentives to current customers if they refer others.
- Networking: Attending or sponsoring events and participating in industry professional organizations help you make new connections and increase name recognition.
- Thought leadership: A great way to build your brand is to offer some of your advice for free through speaking opportunities, media interviews, blogs, podcasts, and webinars. It’s kind of like offering a free sample to rope in customers.
- Lead management – Once you have your leads, you have to qualify them to decide if they are worth pursuing and to help you prioritize. Is your lead the ultimate decision maker? Is there a sense of urgency to their problem? Is your solution what they need to overcome their challenges?
- Lead distribution – If you are working with a team, who is the best person to follow up with each lead? It may or may not be the person who brought it in.
- Opportunity management – Keep in touch with your lead and tailor your approach based on what you need to do to convert your lead. Offer a demo? Give a little bit of tailored free advice? Provide testimonials or case studies?
- Measurement – It is always important to set metrics and evaluate the effectiveness of your sales process for professional services. Track early and often.
Strengthening Your Professional Services Sales Process
Here are some tips to ensure your sales process for professional services is effective.
- Know your buyer. Buyers are led by emotion when they make decisions. Understanding those will make your pitch more effective. If you don’t know, ask strategic, insightful questions.
- Emphasize your value. Focus on how you can help your potential customer overcome a challenge instead of bombarding them with deals and offers. Giving some free advice and proof of how you have helped others goes a long way.
- Let your success speak for you. Ask your current clients and satisfied customers for testimonials on your work and referrals.
- Concentrate on quality over quantity. Five qualified leads are better than 20 nonqualified ones.
- Be patient and persistent. The sales process for professional services can last a year or more. It takes time and attention to build the trust you need to close a sale.
- Expand your funnel entry points. Every buyer is looking for something different. You may be more likely to close a deal with a hesitant buyer by offering a small, short-term opportunity instead of a full-service, long-term one.
- Know when to say “no,” or give up on a lead. Your service is valuable, so don’t undersell yourself. And don’t be afraid to stop pursuing a lead so you can spend time on another, hopefully more fruitful, opportunity.
Tackling the sales process for professional services may have you feeling out of your element, but the good news is that if you are good at what you do (and you probably are, or you wouldn’t have thought to start selling your services in the first place), you already have everything you need to be successful. And, lucky for you, one of our professional services includes helping you sell yours. At Paradigm, we can support your sales process for professional services, helping you radically enhance your business infrastructure, improve data analysis, and support profitable decision making with workflow services and solutions that streamline processes, facilitate communication, ensure uniform deliverables, and integrate technology across your organization. Contact us today.