Industry Intelligence from First Research, a division of Hoover’s (a D&B company), sees professional services industry growing at 2X plus of the rest of the economy through 2016. As an outsourcing sales company, we have seen this momentum build in the second half of 2015 and we are bullish on the potential for Professional Service Sales in 2016.
If you are responsible for growing your practice and have not already started lead generation and sales strategy planning for the coming year, the time to start is now. Below are some of the recommendations we have to improve your sales or inform a sales outsourcing strategy (specifically for professional service firms) in the coming year.
- Understand who your best customers are. To do this, you can build an Ideal Customer Profile. Ask yourself, what companies eventually produce annuities and are the stickiest after the initial engagement? What clients can be serviced without monopolizing your high-end resources?
- Focus on targeting the right markets. The greatest impact you can have on your pipe is investing in putting in the right type of leads to start with. Take the insights you gain from building an Ideal Customer Profile and take action.
- Mine your Dead Database. Sales cycles are getting longer. If you have invested time and energy building a relationship with a potential customer in the past, make an effort to reach out to that prospect again. As an outsourcing lead generation company, we have a specific “Wake the Dead” campaign that allows us to reach out to and attempt to re-engage as many as 1000 “dead leads” in a little over 3 weeks. For several of our clients, we have seen half our deals come from prospects we wrote off as dead in the first half of 2016.
- Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Establish metrics that measure the velocity of your pipe. What content moves deals? What conversations move deals forward? What key events (both internal and external) move deals forward?
- Examine your Sales Process. Once you have established your KPIs, look at what works in your sales process and increase your focus there; get rid of what is not working and automate whatever you can.
- Digitize, Digitize, Digitize. If you give a speech, make a presentation or hear the same objection more than once a quarter create a podcast, record a webinar or write a blog about it. Then give it to a less costly resource to push into the market for you. Odds are that if one prospect finds it valuable, so will another 100 prospects. There is no excuse not to share your expertise, tools have come down in price and the average buyer now looks at 12 pieces of content before making a purchase decision. Make it easy for your buyer to buy.
- Look at marketing automation software. If you make contact with someone not ready to buy (e.g. make initial contact when they are still educating themselves), keep your first mover advantage and stay top of mind. Subscriptions to these products dropped dramatically in 2011. An investment in nurturing your leads the first half of the year can pay huge dividends the second half of the year.
- Sell money. Create a solid ROI calculator. If your customer gives you $100, when will you return that $100? When will you return $120? When will your return $200? What are the topline impacts of a relationship with you, and what is the cost of your client waiting a year to do business with you?
- Make sure your message is consistent. Sales and Marketing Alignment is critical to your success in a professional services sale. Buying professional services often requires selling intangibles. This increases the risk for the buyer, so they are looking for a reason to say no. Don’t give them one.
- Focus on your core competency. Day to day details of sales operations and marketing operations can be taxing and dilute focus. Digital content, marketing automation, webcasting, SEO tools and Social Media, are changing the way buyers buy. 2011 introduced a host of sales and marketing technologies that can be leveraged for effectiveness. Create a sales strategy and or lead generation strategy and consider partnering to augment capability and increase capacity, to grow your sales in the coming year.
As a top professional service sales outsourcing company, we have the expertise and experience to help you intelligently and methodically build a sales machine that scales and makes your revenues increase. Contact us for a free consultation to see what we can do to improve your sales performance and pipeline velocity in 2012.