“Doing business without doing marketing and sales is like winking at someone in the dark. You know you’re doing it, but no-one else does.”
It can be frustrating, can’t it, to find you’ve spent years studying for professional qualifications, then providing expert advice, only to be told that now you need to do sales.
We have asked lots of professionals over the years what they think of selling. There are some who love it but in the main they find it, at best, intimidating or, at worst, rather grubby and beneath them. This is often because selling is associated with lack of substance, manipulation or the need to be an outgoing, ‘patter merchant’. However, selling need never be like that in the professional services world. In fact, behaving like what we might regard as a ‘typical’ salesperson is likely to be counter-productive in a world where we typically want to build trust-based, long-term relationships with our clients. Our experience at PACE tells us that building business is less about ‘selling’ to others and more about motivating others to buy. read more
I recently conducted some research amongst some clients and contacts regarding the barriers they faced around cross-selling. My research uncovered these firms faced three main challenges: mutual trust (or lack of) in their colleagues’ capabilities, the feeling of losing control and the client’s image of the firm. But what can you do to overcome these barriers? read more
From our research here at PACE and by talking with professionals all over the world, we know that fees/margin/profit (which all mean money) is being left on the table in almost all work instructions agreed between provider and client.
It’s true that when business conditions worsen the tendency to crumble increases when price is challenged and to some extent the opposite is also true. read more
How would your firm fare in a mystery shopping exercise? It might seem like something done in retail outlets or visitor attractions, but I recently became a mystery shopper for a legal client and the results were interesting.
Most firms would claim to be ‘client-focused’, ‘professional’ or ‘friendly’, but in fact the client experience can be something different. More importantly, I suggest that many firms are losing out on sales opportunities simply by not thinking about each and every touch-point with a potential or existing client. read more
Do you relax and enjoy all the socialising that goes with the Festive season? Or do you find, like some people, all the enforced jollity all a bit tiresome? I know I love chatting to new people and indulging in what some people might call ‘small talk’. My husband, however, while he can do it, would much rather avoid such situations.
It’s probably fair to say that there is every shade of preference for it among the professionals we work with at PACE. During the business year, we might call this ‘networking’ – a word that can send shivers down the most knowledgeable of spines. It smacks of ‘small talk’, forced and artificial conversations and, heaven forbid, SELLING! Can you imagine the horror of talking to someone in any sort of setting that just wants to sell something to you? It does happen, and in fact, I once know someone who wanted to leave her company leaflets lying about at a house party I was hosting. We don’t see each other anymore! read more
So often well intentioned attempts to cross-sell fail because they are executed incorrectly. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is to give two examples. Scenario 1 represents what we often hear when we ask professionals to recount a cross-selling attempt that seemed to fall on stony ground.
Partner: I understand that one of the initiatives on the horizon is to appoint a consultancy to help you create a more sophisticated client management system for your organisation? read more
Of course, there is no perfect client relationship manager, but I have come across some really good ones over the years.
For instance, a lawyer I used to work with. The thing that struck me most about him was that he was always an advocate for his clients and he’d put their interests first, even if they were at odds with the firm’s. He was also great at keeping in contact with people – clients, prospects, whomever – and managing client’s expectations. read more
I was watching a drama on TV recently where a recently retired gentleman suddenly realised he needed to get to know people where he lived. He helped a neighbour fix his car, and wouldn’t accept any payment for the parts he provided. Then he invited this neighbour round to share a bottle of malt whisky later that evening.
The neighbour didn’t turn up, and the character was left alone with his bottle of whisky and crisps in a bowl. It was sad, especially trying to build relationships where he lived now that he had time to do it. read more
Wider World Thinking
Some of the PACE Team were in the USA recently while working with one of the global professional services firms. Despite the fact that we speak the same language, that doesn’t always lead to understanding. I had trouble ordering eggs at breakfast using a language that both the waiter and I could relate to!
What did strike us though were the number of contributors to great selling that are common across our two cultures, and indeed the world. These are just some of those common elements: read more