Legal, accounting, financial, and other professional services principals are usually struggling to wear two hats at the same time. The favorite hat they like to wear is that of primary service provider: To be the expert lawyer, accountant, or banker that they were trained to become. The other hat is equally important to the business but is always the least favorite to wear: new business development.
If you want to accelerate your professional services revenue, you may need to hone a few of your business development skills and adopt a more disciplined approach to the marketplace.
Here are 3 steps to accelerating your professional services revenues:
1/ Protect Your Base. In your market, the only way anyone is going to grow their business is to take it away from the other guy. You need to make sure that the other guy doesn’t take your clients away from you! Remember, to cover any business lose you’ll need to develop even more new business just to stay even.
Ensure your clients are satisfied. You not only have to deliver quality service, but you need to hear regular confirmation directly from the customer (and their staff!!) that they are actually very satisfied with your service!
- Stay top of mind. Out of sight is out of mind. Create a schedule to call once per week and to visit in person once every month, for example. Don’t play it by ear; go into the discussion with a well thought out call agenda and desired next steps.
2/ Leverage Your Assets. Your current and prior customers are your biggest assets. These individuals are already aware of your expertise, have experienced your work, respect you and your team, and hopefully, like working with you.
- Expand your client’s business. Identify if your existing or prior clients have a potential current or future requirement for other services that you currently offer. It’s 10 times easier to grow an existing customer than to secure a new one.
- Stay top of mind with prior customers. Create a call and meeting schedule. Clients with a higher potential of future business should receive a higher frequency of contact.
- Solicit client referrals. They are very satisfied with your work, want to help, but you must make it as easy as possible for them. It’s 3 times easier to secure a customer that was referred than to secure a new one. For example, when you call or visit them, remind them of all the services you provide and the type of clients you service, then always ask if they are aware of anyone who might be a potential client. Every month or two, email them a compelling article or news item about their industry to stay in touch. If the content piece is about your firm, ask them to share it with their network for possible referrals.
3/ Update Your Prospecting Techniques. Cold calling and in-person networking is a time-tested technique, but its effectiveness is directly proportional to your discipline and skill level. Fortunately, its always easier to engage in a “warm call” than a cold call. Since over 80% of buyers rely on referrals and introductions, not cold calls, then get introduced to a potential prospect through a common friend. The most effective way to do this is in the 21st century is through social networking. Remember, even if you believe your target buyers are not “social”, their staff is!
- Search for your ideal prospect on LinkedIn based upon industry, company size, geographic location, title, etc.
- Find your ideal prospect, the decision maker or one of their staff, in the company you want to contact.
- Get introduced to your ideal prospect. According to the theory, there are at most only six degrees of separation between you and your next potential customer. Determine who in your network can facilitate an introduction. Obviously, the more connections you have in your network, the greater the chance that one of them knows your prospect and is happy to make an introduction.
If your firm is more than 10 people, but not large enough to have a marketing group, consider inviting in a revenue acceleration consultant to give your business development strategy a tune-up; lead a skill-development workshop on enhanced business retention and development techniques, for example.
If your firm is large enough to have your own marketing group, then you need to ensure they are doing their fair share of business development. Professional firms that execute the right marketing techniques can enjoy a 28% higher growth rate than laggard firms. The right marketing techniques are also more cost effective! High-growth firms actually spent less on marketing (1.04 percent of revenue) than did low-growth firms (2.08 percent of revenue). A more detailed discussion of how you can partner with Marketing to maximize your professional services revenue can be found here.
When was the last time you gave your revenue growth strategy a tune-up?
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