Selling Professional Services

The Fundamentals of Success

Clients buy your ‘technical and professional  competence’.  Whatever they want done, from a straightforward project (are any entirely straightforward?) to a complex consultancy involvement, they want to be sure they are dealing with the right organisation and the right people.  They will define this as the one with whom there is the greatest certainty of getting the job done right.

Put yourself in the clients’ shoes for a moment.  How do they know a good job will be done?  In many ways the answer, if they have not used your organisation before (and to a degree if they have), is simple.  They cannot know.  As has been said. intangible services are, by definition, untestable

So, they seek a degree of measurement – prediction – from everything they can test.  Among the things that contribute to this, the people rank high.  Without doubt they will check out the people and, almost always these days, do this alongside checking one, two or more other organisations.

Of course, you and your colleagues are good with people, you are professionally competent and, what is more, you are nice people to do business with.  Surely if you create the right relationship their business will follow?  Perhaps.  However, is it just possible that the other organisations being checked out have some pleasant and efficient people too?  Some people will no doubt do business with you simply because they like you best.  The majority, while getting on with their technical and professional  advisers may be important to them, will also weigh other things in the balance.  They want you to be knowledgeable, efficient, reliable; they may want you to have expert knowledge of particular things; they certainly want to feel you understand them, their business and their situation and to act with that understanding in mind.  And, if they get on with you as well, so much the better.

Now all the people in your organisation may be exceptional, able to do the best job possible for a wide range of clients, but, as has been said, the client has to be persuaded of this fact.  It follows, as night follows day, that the first chance (and perhaps the only chance) you will have of demonstrating your technical and professional  competence is when you are selling.  Your excellence may shine through instantly when you start work but, unless it does so earlier, you may never start.

This fact, and the fragile nature of the sales process, both referred to earlier, makes it paramount that every element of persuasive communication – technical and professional  selling – is done correctly, with ‘done correctly’ meaning done in a way that will maximise the chances of people doing business with you.

A further point is worth adding to this explanation of why selling is so important.  And that is productivity.  Sales productivity, that is.  People in technical and technical and professional  organisations are expensive (ask any client!).  The opportunity cost of everything you do, other than doing or managing fee-earning projects, is considerable.  If things are being done inadequately, two meetings where one should have sufficed, or if the success rate – the number of new clients in relationship to the number of prospects with whom you are in discussion – is too low, it becomes very expensive.  Selling must be effective because it takes time, and costs money.

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