B2B professional service companies are a rare breed. The sometimes abstract nature of the service makes for a tough sale and a longer sales cycle than most. These companies therefore need all the help they can get in terms of sales and marketing, so knowing where your buyers are evaluating your services is key to a successful sales process.
In a recent survey reported by MarketingProfs, it was found that the two most common places people go to evaluate professional services companies are the company’s website (81%) and search engines (63%). Beyond that, buyers ask friends or colleagues if they have heard of the company (62%), look to social media (60%) and ask a reference the company provides (56%). The survey also found that buyer used an average of 3.2 methods in their evaluation process.
While these findings are not surprising, there are several conclusions that can be drawn.
1. It makes sense for professional service firms to devote significant resources to their website and invest time in leveraging it as a sales tool.
If 81% of your buyers are heading straight to your website to evaluate your services, your website better be set up to allow them to do that. A homepage with a “sign up for our newsletter” link is no longer enough. Professional services companies’ websites need to include readily available content that:
- speaks directly to the buyers’ needs
- educates buyers enough to feel informed about your solution
- verifies your credentials and success rate
2. Professional services firms need to use social media—if only for evaluation/vetting purposes.
B2B professional service firms are never going to be the most buzzed about thing on social media. But, if 60% of buyers look to social media in their buying process, it makes sense to at least have a presence there. The same survey found that LinkedIn is by far the most commonly used social platform during evaluation of professional services companies (70%). Twitter is only used 5% of the time and 25% of buyers check Facebook, Google or other social networks.
So, while posting constantly on Twitter might not be worth the time for professional services firms, setting up company profiles on LinkedIn, Google and Facebook is probably worthwhile. You may not need to post updates everyday, simply having an active company profile is sometimes enough to be seen as a credible, 21st century business.
3. For professional services companies to be most effective, one tactic is not enough.
With so many places to get information today, buyers are leveraging multiple resources over the course of their buying process. This suggests that to be most effective in their sales and marketing efforts, they need to leverage a variety of sales and marketing tactics to meet their buyers everywhere they are looking.
Because professional services buyers are looking an average of 3.2 places during their evaluation process, focusing only on your website—or only on SEO, or only on social media—is not enough. Professional services companies need to simultaneously work and monitor all spaces where prospects are engaging to produce the best results.
For more sales tips of B2B professional services sales, read 10 Sales Strategies for Professional Service Firms. Feel free to contact us with any questions.