The world of professional services sales is changing rapidly. Changing with it are the challenges faced by the members of your team. This blog will talk about several challenges and the opportunity they present in selling professional services to clients in today’s environment.
Whether you are considering outsourcing sales or further developing your own internal sales team, the challenges that all of us face in selling professional services and solutions are the same. Gone are the days of discretionary or experimental budgets. If they still exist, they are typically dramatically reduced. You have to sell to both a technical buyer and a business buyer in every organization. Companies are running leaner at top levels, and as a result the decision makers that you need to sell to are picking up the phone 30% less. Once you do connect and start to engage the prospect in your sales cycle and with your content, their schedules are so tight that it takes much longer to move them through your sales funnel.
Here’s the bottom line: lead generation, lead qualifying and sales engagement can take twice the time and energy they did in the past. Markets are flooded with buyers and sellers of all types, and it’s your job to weed through it all. For the professional service firms that we provide sales outsourcing and lead generation services to, it’s more important now than ever that we sell smarter and do our best to maximize top producer’s sales efficiency and effectiveness. We also have to help make the process easier for the buyers we are selling to. They have less time and demand a more efficient way to buy.
When a professional service firm comes to us (as opposed to product sales companies) to have a discussion about outsourcing sales, they often voice additional unique complexities that they are now facing in the professional service market:
- The roles of seller and deliverer are often merging. More time spent selling means less time dedicated to delivery and/or available for sales pipe development efforts.
- The professional service sale is growing increasingly complex, and requires an investment in education and solution selling.
- Education is required because professional services engagements are perceived as high risk investments for buyers, since they can’t hold the product in their hand. Consequently, buyers take longer to make decisions and often want to break up adoption so that there is a pilot or proof of concept stage.
- Professional services selling requires communication of intangible benefits – character, thinking style and personality of lead consultants and top producers – to effectively close deals.
- Top producing professional service executives are predisposed to “solutioning” and solving customer problems, rather than “selling” and sales management.
- Professional service sales are high risk for the Seller due to the need to acquire real return and margins that only stem from long-term engagements, beyond initial pilots
If you take all of these emerging complexities into account, they point to “time” as the single, largest issue. Time is still quite literally money, as they say – and this is especially true for the professional service business model. For us at Gabriel Sales, the challenge in outsourcing the professional service sale lies in identifying how best to customize a program to make your top producers operate at their highest levels of effectiveness and efficiency.
Gabriel Sales has been providing outsourced sales and lead generation services successfully to professional service providers across a wide variety of verticals and target markets – for over 15 years. In the last few years we’ve seen a large market shift in the approach buyers take to engage and make decisions surrounding professional service solutions. This has led to the creation of a viable opportunity for increased efficiency and effectiveness in designing a sales engine and cloning your top producers.
Sales and marketing interactions have changed drastically due to the proliferation of the internet and digital communication. Buyers have always actively leveraged content, but now it is being digested specifically through digital and social media. Buyers are streamlining their process on their own time. You now have the ability to leverage lead generation and sales reps that are skilled in communicating your solutions effectiveness and value in the digital space. These reps can manage more of your sale and replicate larger pieces of what was previously required of your top producer. Professional service firms can make it easier for buyers to buy by alleviating the buyer’s time constraints, while simultaneously opening up bandwidth for their top producers. Sales productivity skyrockets by as much as two times within a year, and as high as three times within eighteen months.
This opportunity is significant. But what is even more significant is that taking advantage of this shift does not require completely changing your existing sales process. However, it does require that you effectively align your sales and marketing teams, and get them to stop living in the silos that is typically tradition. This allows for you to be able to engage in a one-to-many dialogue as you generate leads and communicate effectively with both the technical buyer and business buyer. Your sales reps will need to be trained and managed effectively in using these new tools.
Please feel free to contact us or visit “Why Professional Services Firms Use Outsourcing Sales and Marketing” for more information.