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Start Up Marketing For a Professional Services Firm

For many people, there is considerable confusion about what exactly marketing is about, what sales entails – and anyway are they really different? The answer is that they are. Here’s how they both work and contribute differently to your firm’s success with clients.


Marketing is about first, understanding and analysing the market, who the best, most attractive clients are, what their current and future needs are, how the market environment may change those needs, the products and services that are offered in the market to meet those needs, the competitors and how they promote and serve clients in the market. Next, marketing creates the product or service to better meet the needs of clients, better than the clients currently get from competitors. On an ongoing basis, then, marketing measures client satisfaction with the quality of the firm’s services.

Sales, in a professional services firm, is about, first, educating the client about the issues, challenges, implications and opportunities that form the context to and drive the clients need for the professional service they are endeavouring to sell. This is known as the ‚consultative salesperson and sales process’. For example, a tax advisor first highlights the implications of a budget change in business taxation for all businesses like the clients and then goes on to propose a solution to mitigate such implications through a new service offered by the tax advisory firm. The second stage in a consultative sales process is therefore the proposing of a solution to mitigate the client’s problem, followed by negotiating the fee and delivering the service.

DIFFERENCES
Services and products are very different things. Services can’t be stored for later consumption. Services are intangible, they haven’t a physical form in their own right and as a result services are inseparable from the provider and staff that deliver them. Because services lack a physical form, they are difficult to ‚ price’. And the price challenge for professional services firms is the issue that value is ‚opaque’, not clear to the customer. When it comes to professional services; there are added complications and complexities for the client:

  • Clients often feel fear, uncertainty and doubt about such service purchases and decisions. They lack knowledge and understanding of, legal matters, for example and therefore seek out providers who give client education, follow-ups and guarantees.
  • The risks to a client – financial, reputational, and so on- are greater in buying a professional service. If they get the wrong advisory service, then they lose tangible assets and reputation.
  • Clients know they must therefore get ‚ involved’ with the provider firm, meet with the firms staff, disclose their circumstances and work with them. By getting involved with a knowledgeable services provider, the client reduces their risk of an adverse outcome.
  • A professional services firm must therefore build a brand and name in the market place to allay prospective clients risk fear, uncertainty and doubts.


BRAND REPUTATION

Gaining a reputation and building a brand name in the professional services market place is the key to attracting clients – new clients to the firm for the first time and existing clients to come back again. That brand is the big, important and valuable benefit that clients believe that your firm offers, delivers consistently and stands for distinctively apart from the other professional services providers in the market.
In building such a brand reputation, start with what clients highly value in professional services benefits. Prospective clients are not looking for the services per se, the firm provides, rather they are looking for these key benefits:

  • Objective Expert Advice
  • Problem Solving
  • Creating New Opportunities
  • High Quality Service Process and Outcomes

Objective, expert advice is highly valued by the buyer of a professional service. This capability has to be foremost in a firms brand and reputation and must be communicated in the marketing and sales techniques described below. The reason is it so important, derives from Diagram1, which describes the four principal types of purchases and buying processes. Professional services are a ‚high involvement’ purchase and are driven by the ‚rational’ imperative (buyers think in an economic and informative way) – they, therefore occupy the top left quadrant.
The natural buying process for a professional service is that the client must first ‚learn’ about their need, then they must ‚feel’ confident and assured that the solution is to hand and then finally they ‚do’ the implementation of the solution or service. Clearly a firm that lacks credibility and reputation for ‚objective, expert advice’ will fail to attract clients seeking first to ‚learn’.
In addition to valuing objective, expert advice, clients will also prize a firm’s ability and reputation for problem-solving. Most people know that ‚murphy’s law’ prevails and that some things will go awry, at some point in the service delivery and/or post-delivery stage. A firm that demonstrates a track record in responding to and retrieving problems will be an attractive provider to a client. Similarly a firm that looks to create new opportunities for its clients, based on its track record for future-orientation, provides another valued benefit to clients.

MARKETING & SALES – CHECKLIST & TECHNIQUES
START UP CHECKLIST
Review each of the following marketing and sales tools for use by your firm to increase the effectiveness of building your firms brand reputation and fee income.

LOGO
The logo is a key visual hook and identifier for your firm and it should be used across all of your stationery, business cards, website, office name plate and everything else that a client sees. More importantly the logo should convey how your firm distinctively delivers the four, highly valued benefits for clients: objective, independent expertise; problem-solving; future orientation and high quality services.

TAG-LINE
Always attach to the logo and your firms brand name, the nine word tag-line that summarises the distinctive, different and highly valued benefit to your client market. Here’s a process for creating your tag-line:
1. Our firm’s expertise is in … (what field or product category?)
2. We uniquely offer clients … (what service/key benefits?)
3. We appeal most to … (what target audience?)

BUSINESS CARDS
In addition to carrying the persons details and your firms, name, logo and tag-line; the business card should convey in additional information or by its very shape and design, the brand reputation of the firm and the valued client benefits.

BROCHURES
There must be a clear view of the job a brochure has to do and at what stage in the selling cycle it is to operate. There are three generic types of brochure and each only operates effectively at the right stage of the selling cycle. These are:

  1. Sales Brochure: The purpose of this brochure is to grab attention, create awareness, generate interest and facilitate a response from the recipient. Successful sales brochures deliver the “hook” or the attractive proposition to the recipient and “talk” like a catchy advertisement. It is not a detailed information provider or a response device.
  2. Information Brochure: This type of brochure operates at a very different stage of the selling cycle and therefore it sells in a way that the sales brochure does not. The information brochure is needed at the coal face of the buying decision: in a clear, uncluttered, gimmick-free, no sales copy way, it provides the information that the recipient needs to address any queries and confirm the reasons to buy. It is a factual brochure.
  3. Corporate Brochure: The corporate brochure promotes the “provider” and not the products of the provider. Only brief details of product are included – if at all – and typical content will be company history and case/client histories. Text and imagery must be consistent with the corporate brand, brand promise and brand values. It is factual. It has no sales copy.

WEB SITE ESSENTIALS
A good website will have at least these six features for visitors when they arrive on the site.

1. The businesses brand positioning will be clearly defined and reflected in the site name, logo and main messages. Brand positioning will clearly articulate:

  • The target audience it is speaking to. Content and tone will , for example differ depending on whether this is female or male, young, older, married, single, French or German, etc
  • The need category that is addressed by the businesses products and services. In the example of a supermarket, are you providing product in the ‚fresh vegetables’ category or section or the ‚fresh fruit’ or the ‚frozen preparation’
  • The unique valued benefit that is highly valued by the client and not matched by the competitor
  • The proofs that are offered to the prospective buyer that assure them that they will get the valued benefit; such as client testimonials, third party endorsements, etc

Each of these must be clearly, concisely and engagingly articulated on the landing
page/ home page and repeated throughout.

2. It must be easy to navigate the site and easy to understand what to do. For example, a visitor will have the following five questions , each needing to be addressed by your sites navigation sections

3. Why am I here – Home Page sets out the ‚brand positioning’, highlighting the ‚need’ and the valued benefit being offered

4. What can you do for me? – Products or Services Page sets out the detail of the valued benefit(s)

5. Prove you are good enough for my money. Testimonial Page shows the Proofs

6. Ok so your work looks good. Who are you? – About Us Page provides the reputation, tradition and history to the business, founders, advisors and associations

7. I’m interested in going to the next step – Contact Us Page gives the visitor the ‚next step’ to getting more information, having query answered or purchase the product

8. Have valuable information, Advice, Tips and Insights. All purchases start with a quest for information and this increasingly takes place online. Your site should therefore provide that help to the searching buyer.

9. Build ‚interactivity’ into the site. Visitors are interested in receiving newsletters and alerts about issues and useful content, they are interested in ‚calculating’ costs and benefits to suit their own circumstances and they’re interested in having questions answered.

10. Update the content regularly. A static site with unchanged content is like reading last week’s newspaper – it loses relevancy to the visitor and they’ll stop coming.

11. Don’t use unprofessional photography or images, a lot of text which is unattractive to the eye or ‚flash’ which slows down the speed of page opening and distracts the eye.

MARKETING AND SALES TECHNIQUES
There are nine essential marketing and sales techniques that build brand reputation and fee income for a professional services firm.

1. CLIENT RESEARCH
Clients can provide vital help to the firm in identifying ways and opportunities to grow the business, through feedback and satisfaction monitoring.

FEEDBACK
Invite their feedback on:

  • Satisfaction with the service/firm
  • Likelihood to do business again
  • Likelihood to recommend
  • Why the customer is not satisfied/likely to do business again/recommend
  • Awareness and usage of competitors
  • Satisfaction/likely to do business again/recommend competitor and why
  • How did they learn about your firm?
  • Have they purchased from your competitors?
  • How do you rate against your competitors? -worse, same, better and why
  • How often do they purchase from you?
  • Do they purchase across your entire range?
  • Could they purchase more from you?
  • Would they be interested to learn more about your other services?
  • What’s the best way to communicate to them?
  • What are your strengths and limitations?
  • How likely they would be to refer you?
  • Have they referred you in the past?

SATISFACTION
Ask clients directly for the evaluation criteria that they use in measuring what is important to them. Avoid measuring what the firm thinks is important to the client. You must first ascertain from clients what their key assessment criteria are and then measure how the firm performs on those criteria. A questionnaire is the most common technique for such measurement and its content/areas of survey should be co-developed with clients.
Keep them short and easy to complete. It should not be ambiguous and the client should spend no more than fifteen minutes doing it. Cover no more than ten to fifteen parameters in the questionnaire, ones that are most important to the customer. Include key questions such as

  • Would you buy again?
  • Would you buy our other products?
  • Would you recommend it to a friend?
  • How can we serve you better? (Open ended)

Questionnaires can be done regularly by mail, with a 10-15 per cent response rate, by telephone and in specially convened client focus group, clinics and panels. Using a third party is best and will solicit more feedback from clients. Include former clients to get their perspectives (on leaving) and non-clients to get knowledge of your competitors. On an ongoing basis, create a facility or process for your staff with frequent client contact (in sales, service and accounts) to capture open-ended feedback. This can help inform on new areas of client satisfaction enquiry.
Use a five-point scale:

  • 1= very dissatisfied
  • 2= dissatisfied
  • 3= neutral
  • 4= satisfied
  • 5= very satisfied

Be cautioned that the 5s are the only group not likely to defect. Adding the 4s and 5s together is not the general measure of overall customer satisfaction.

2. PERSONAL SELLING
The best sales process is the willing client buying process. The clients’ buying process always has the following steps:

  • I am important and want to be respected.
  • You must first earn my trust.
  • You must consider my needs.
  • How will your solutions help me (the benefits)?
  • What are the facts?
  • What are the snags?
  • What do I have to do?
  • I agree/disagree.

Each step of the sales process must address these 8 buying requirements in the sequence set out. If you do not demonstrate that you know the client is important and wants to be respected – then the buying process will stall and terminate. So how do you demonstrate this first requirement in your sales process?

Step 1: “I am important and want to be respected”
This must be demonstrated in all meetings with clients. Typical demonstrations will be in:

The Preparation You Do

  • Researching their Website, Accounts, Other Sources
  • Understanding their Organizational Chart and power people
  • Knowing their business drivers
  • Being in tune with their Culture

Behaving Peer-to-peer

  • Buyers ‚buy from someone like themselves’
  • It must be Chief to chief
  • Stay Tuned in meetings
  • Don’t wander, it wastes their time and is therefore ‚disrespectful’

Always ask Questions

  • What are your key objectives this year?
  • How will you know if you are successful?
  • What keeps you awake at night?

Step 2: “You must first earn my trust”.
Be strategic and singular in the ‚company you keep’. Demonstrate that you can be trusted with the following:

  • CEO and his/her profile in marketplace
  • Members of the Board of Directors
  • Having a Panel of Advisors
  • The Investors, taken on/and in subsequent rounds
  • Advisors (audit/assurance, financial and legal)
  • The strategic marketing management team (CEO and marketing director)
  • The sales management team
  • Channel partners and collaborators
  • Alliance, joint ventures and partners
  • Reference clients.

Trust in a professional services firm has to be earned by the firm. Buyers will be fearful, uncertain and doubtful about buying something entirely new to them. Some categories of buyers, however, will be more willing to try a purchase. These are the early adopters and innovators.

Steps 3- 7: You must consider my needs. How will your solutions help me?
What are the facts? What are the snags? What do I have to do?
Address each of these by knowing the answers to the following questions:

  • how do clients become aware of their need
  • what do they need or want
  • what objectives are they trying to achieve
  • how do they select a service
  • who participates in the buying process/decision
  • how do they make their buying decision
  • when do they seem ready to buy
  • where do they prefer to buy
  • how do they order and purchase
  • how is the service delivered
  • how is the service installed applied
  • what happens when it’s delivered
  • how is it paid for
  • what is the client really using it for
  • what do they need help with in using the service
  • what about returns and exchanges

Step 8: “I agree/disagree”
The client must finally be given an action to confirm their buying intention – whether this is a verbal agreement to draw up contracts , a deposit or fee or arranging meetings with the other members of a buying committee. If it’s a disagree outturn, work back through the steps to try to establish where your ‚sell’ disconnected with their ‚buy’.

3. DIRECT MAIL MARKETING
Direct mail marketing remains a very powerful means of communicating your firms offer to your targeted client audience. Follow the guidelines, below, and mail your letter, plus attached brochure to the right person in the target clients organization – aim to have the letter package arrive on a Thursday or Friday. These are ‚consideration’ days and you have a better chance on these days, as opposed to a hectic Monday or Tuesday.

  1. Copy text has to be accessible to the would-be reader. Present everything in bite-size chunks or paragraphs of no more than three lines long. Present key selling proposition(s) as bullet point(s). Use bold and underline to draw attention to key ideas.
  2. Page should be at least 45 per cent white space.
  3. Present call-to-action early and often. No later than the third paragraph.
  4. In nearly every sentence, express a benefit and write the benefit first.
  5. Sell the offer, not the product. Concentrate on selling the benefits of responding and receiving the offer. If it is ultimately a high-involvement/high-risk purchase, then concentrate on selling the benefits of the “giver first” offer.
  6. Use the client “you” language, do not talk about “our” firm and “our” products. Keep it action orientated and use active language.

 

* Finally, run your eye over the headlines, subheadings, indents, underlined phrases and see if they talk your offer convincingly as follows:

  • pain or opportunity gain identified
  • benefit offer made
  • call to action
  • benefit and offer description
  • call to action
  • reason to respond now
  • benefit summary
  • call to action

4. NETWORKING
Networking amongst prospective clients and potential collaborators is essential. At networking events use a “memory hook” when you are giving out your business card so that people will remember you and what you do. It might be a humor point, for example “I’m not from Dublin, but I sure got here as soon as I could!” Bring three times as many business cards as you think you will need.

When you are receiving business cards, write a person-specific note on the back of those cards for the more serious prospects for later prioritization and an angle in following up. Ask for two cards from serious prospects/contacts – one for you and one for you to give on to your contact network for them. Remember “givers gain”; you help them first and they will reply in kind.

5. WEB MARKETING
Once you have the firm’s website up and running, you next need to integrate it into each of the seven marketing and sales techniques and activities. For example, a brochure should also give the web site address for further information and help. Two other aspects of web marketing also need to be factored in- search engine optimization and online marketing activities.

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION
Search Engine Optimization is the process of making your Web site as easy to find as possible for search engines and, through them, your clients and customers.
For that to happen, your Web pages have to contain the keywords and phrases most likely to be used when a customer enters search requests in an engine, and your pages must be organized in way that’s most “friendly” to those high-tech seek-and-find services.

THESE CAN HELP YOUR WEB SITE’S VISIBILITY:

  1. Get the most from your URL: Be specific and creative with your domain name. Use one that uniquely identifies your company and your brand.
  2. Research your keyword phrases. The phrases you think your target market might be searching for may very well be incorrect. To find the optimal phrases to optimize for, use research tools such as Google Keywords https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal. Compile lists of the most relevant phrases for your site, and choose a few different ones for every page. Never shoot for general keywords such as “travel” or “vacation,” as they are rarely (if ever) indicative of what your site is really about. Research your customers as well.
  3. Web site description, keywords, subject and local This information is used by search engine crawlers to place your website in search results. It is important to include as many good keywords as possible in your website description, and in the keyword section of your pages. Once these fields are complete, you must tell individual search engines to ‘crawl’ and index your website. The details specified here will be used by the search engine crawler when indexing.
  4. Pick good page titles The page title of each Web page is the most important on-page SEO factor. The page title is the text that appears in the top bar of your browser window and is the first thing a search engine looks at to determine what the page is about.
  5. Emphasize your text links The wording of the links on each of your Web pages is another important requirement of SEO, and will significantly affect your search engine ranking. They should always include relevant keywords.
  6. Page linking Be sure every page on your site is linked to the other pages. Search spiders follow these trails to rank your Web site.
  7. The 2-Click Rule Navigating around your site should be as easy as possible for your customers. The same goes for search engines. Be sure that every page on your new business Web site is at most only two clicks away from the home page.
  8. Fresh Content Search engines love fresh content on Web sites. Web pages or articles that have been published recently on an established web site get an extra boost in the rankings.
  9. These on-page SEO factors generate about 25% of a web sites ranking. Off-page SEO factors are things that happen outside your direct control but are roughly 75% of the reason you rank for a given search.
  10. The most important off-Page SEO factor is the number and quality of links into your Web site.
  11. Search engines use links as a measure of how interesting your content is, since more interesting content tends to get more links. Search engines also regard links from more-established Web sites as more important than links from less-trustworthy Web sites. The more sites which link to you, the higher your site appears in the results. To check this out for yourself, visit Google and search for ‘link:www.yoursite.ie’ this will show you a list of sites that link to you – if you have less than 10 your site will underperform, irrespective of how good the design may be.

ONLINE MARKETING
Online marketing has to start with your own website being market-ready and then you can add the following functionality/ activities:

  • Insert your site in Local & Online Directories
  • Provide an E-Newsletter for registered visitors and customers to give them regular new information and guidance on issues that matter to them
  • Offer an RSS Feed registration for visitors and customers, so that they are alerted to new content on your website
  • Link press releases and online marketing, so that the media can visit your website via a link
  • Write content for other web sites and link it back to your site
  • Email (on a ‚permission-based’ ) campaigns and attach video presentations
  • Use ‚forward to a friend’ on emails
  • Podcast/Vodcast ( audio or visual) information/advice from your website
  • Video-demonstrate your (complex) product in use
  • Add ‚web 2.0′ interactivity ( blog / online community) to your site
  • Online Advertising ( Banner Ads)
  • Online Search Marketing Campaigns (Pay Per Click)

6. PR
Publicity is about communicating in a planned and strategic way with the key publics for the firm and it involves three programmes – media relations (Press, Radio, TV,) public affairs (Government & Regulatory) and crisis management (handling business threats). In all three programmes, publicity is a very powerful tool, for:

  • Promoting/reinforcing the firm’s brand reputation
  • Introducing new services
  • Announcing significant developments, personnel changes/additions, achievements, awards, strategic partnerships, alliances, new offices, geographical expansion
  • Offering your expertise/commentary on a specific business arena, industry or marketplace
  • Defending/explaining a business-threatening issue.

Publicity can contribute significantly to brand building at a lower cost than advertising. It is a distinctive and valuable marketing communications tool, in so far that, as a mass-market tool:

  • It is not as expensive as advertising in print, broadcast and outdoor media.
  • It has legs. Publicity such as an article/feature in a magazine can be remembered far longer than an advertisement. As a component of an integrated marketing communications programme, it provides a continuous background effect of making the other communication tool messages credible.
  • It has “perceived credibility”. Audiences perceive a magazine article or newspaper feature has more credibility than a “paid-for” advertisement.

7. SEMINARS
Hosting a seminar or series of seminars for clients and prospective clients is a powerful way for the firm to communicate, demonstrate and build its brand reputation for expertise, problem-solving and future orientation. Here are the key steps:
Before the Seminar:

  • Test Hot Topic Sample target delegates for their information/advice need – what would they like to hear/learn?
  • Check Sites Check competitor and other conference sites for perspectives on the topic; set up web link to your firm
  • Internal Briefing Brief all attending staff, client invites
  • Advertising Communicate firm’s credentials/message on adverts/stand/web
  • Attendance Lists Mail the attendance list with a seminar/post-seminar offer

Target in particular “pursuit”/”key account” lists

  • Invitations For pursuits, key accounts and staff
  • Brochure Firm’s credentials/message, speaker biog, speech/papers taster
  • Seminar Papers Speaker’s paper printed on firm’s promotional cover
  • Press/PR Issue speakers paper/covering hot message to press and photo opportunity

2. During the Seminar:

  • On-site Seminar exhibition unit, brochures, promo, posters, e-disc
  • Q&A Generate question(s) from floor for the speaker
  • Staff Percolate Firm’s staff to circulate/identify the hot topics. What info needs were met? Which ones were not?
  • Staff Targets Firm’s staff to meet key account targets and identify/connect with key potential network partners
  • Make Offer Reinforce firm’s pre-seminar offer
  • Appointments Make the seminar offer contingent on an appointment

3. After the Seminar:

  • Hot Topic Do the knowledge piece/briefer on the hot topic
  • Attendance List Mail the hot topic briefer to the list
  • Offer List Phone the “offer list” to move to appointment
  • Appointments Confirm and invite
  • Network/Connections Agree networker and connections to be followed up. Invite to a post-seminar lunch and set up
  • Article Turn speaker paper/hot topic into an article for magazine, newsletter
  • Database Add lists to database

8. PROPOSALS & PRESENTATIONS

  1. Here are ten things to remember when making presentations and delivering proposals at meetings with clients:
  2. Do not deliver an “All About Us” presentation, which goes like this: who we are, our history, our clients, our team, our credentials, why we are different, our fees, etc. There is nothing in this type of presentation for the customer, their problems, their issues and their concerns, and the solutions you can really offer them.
  3. Do not use templates, particularly where you then have to cram the slide with information in the small remaining space. At least 45 per cent of the slide should be white space. Graphics should be used, to the point of replacing text. Studies show that, in a presentation, a combination of the spoken word and graphics is the best and most engaging formula for audience involvement and understanding.
  4. Don’t put your logo on every page.
  5. Relax a little at the start and create a personal connection – the audience will be trying to figure out if you are the kind of person they can work with and trust. People buy people first. Use an anecdote or story.
  6. Your audience is at their most attentive during the opening and closing stages of your presentation, so make sure you get your messages across at these critical stages. Use pauses and silences to punctuate your presentation and draw in your audience. After delivering a key point, accentuate it by stopping, standing still and moving only your eyes around the table. Energy levels are also important – vary your levels to keep the audience alert and engaged.
  7. You must Listen, Listen, Listen. Most people think they do, but in reality they are thinking ahead to the next point they are going to make in their presentation and miss key signals and queries from the customer. Very often, it is your performance in terms of listening and responding on your feet at the presentation that dictate a successful outcome.
  8. Do not assume the audience has read any of the documentation that you sent in advance.
  9. Do not give a hand-out before your presentation – it can distract attention away from your presentation, as people flick through pages.
  10. Prepare answers to questions in advance and know how to handle questions that you will not answer at the presentation. Some things should not be discussed or debated at an initial or large group meeting, such as fees, when the project is not known at that point.
  11. Set a follow-up and seek a clear statement of what will happen next – do not expect them to ask for it.

9. KEY ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT
It is an immutable business fact that 80 per cent of revenues come from 20 per cent of your clients. It therefore pays to target those key clients. Having first reviewed annual client sales over a number of years and identified the ‚20%’ who are responsible for the bulk of sales, the next steps are to appoint a key account manager for each one and then develop a key account strategy to target more business.

ACCOUNT MANAGER
It starts with the dedication of a key account manager whose role is to lead and manage the key account process. How the key account sees the role of the manager is of major importance. The key account will expect the manager to:

  • be the main link into your company for all issues
  • understand its business, market needs and competitive environment
  • help sell them products/services that achieve their business objectives
  • add value in the relationship to their business by, for example, advising on issues relevant to their business
  • help exploit market opportunities and identify new challenges
  • act with integrity and professionalism.

FOUR LEVELS OF RELATIONSHIP
There are four levels of how a key customer may currently perceive your business in relation to theirs. Key account management is needed to shift perceptions from a commodity or product supplier – and its implications in terms of price sensitivity and loyalty – to a value-add and partner relationship.

FOUR STAGES IN THE PROCESS
There are four stages in the process and operation of key account management.

1. ACCOUNT STRATEGY: Develop a client-account specific sales strategy that is based on the client’s agenda of issues and needs.
A well-developed strategy will address:

  • What you can do to add value for the client
  • Who you need to influence in the clients company and by whom in your firm
  • Where within the client’s organization to target
  • When to pursue opportunities
  • Why the client will buy from you.

Complete an account strategy charter for each key account, starting with an understanding of the accounts industry and current situation. Ask the account for their key business objectives for the next three to five years and what they critically need to do to achieve those objectives. Ask how you can help them to achieve their objectives.
Information collected & analyzed is then translated into an account development plan, which sets out

  • your objectives for the year,
  • the strategies that are to be deployed to achieve those objectives
  • and the quarterly actions or tactics that execute those strategies.

2. RELATIONSHIP PLAN: Identify the key decision makers in the customer’s power base and who make things happen, and devise a relationship development plan to provide value to them at a personal/social and business level.
A good understanding of the key decision makers will address the following questions:

  • What their business agenda is?
  • What their personal/social agenda is?
  • Who they need to be recognized by?
  • How they are measured?

Complete an organizational map of the key account, identifying the Power Base Decision Makers (PBDM) and Influencers (PBI); the Supporter Base Sponsor (SBS) and Anti-Sponsors (SBAS). Then, decide your mirror-relationship team alignment pairings – CEO-CEO, CFO-CFO, etc.

3. OPPORTUNITIES MANAGEMENT: Manage the pipeline of opportunities from initial identification to qualification, the go/no-go decision and then from pursuit/closing to final contract and engagement.
With the account development plan (objectives, strategies and tactics) and the organization relationship map (target audiences and mirror-relationships team) in place, a program of interaction and communication can begin through; hospitality, contributing to the account’s internal newsletter or staff conference, industry conference and providing a seminar/briefing for the account top team on relevant industry issues.

4. PERFORMANCE/SATISFACTION MEASUREMENT: Survey, interview and use early warning flags to measure and track your account performance and the customer’s satisfaction.
For each key account, an annual performance measurement and customer satisfaction survey should be carried out as a precedent to updating the account development plan and organization relationship map.

ANNUAL MARKETING & SALES PLAN
Gather each of the nine essential marketing and sales techniques into an annual marketing and sales plan, so that you can allocate responsibilities (and accountability) to those members of the firm that must action them and then allocate the time (generally speaking approximately 20% of a professional service staff member’s time should be devoted to brand and business development activities) and budgetary resources (money) to make it happen.

DEFINE THE FIRM’S BRAND
Client Research (i)
Target Audience
Expertise/ Problem-solving/Future orientation/ Quality service

CREATE AWARENESS
PR (vi)
Networking (iv)
Web (v)

LEAD GENERATION
Mailing (iii)
Seminars (vii)
Newsletters (iii)

WINNING THE BUSINESS
Personal Selling / meetings (ii)
Proposals / presentations (viii)
Expertise Demonstrations (ii and vii and viii)

CLIENT MANAGEMENT
Account plan (ix)
Post-project debriefs (i)
Entertainment (iv)

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