Learn the process your clients go through to search for, choose and buy your most valuable products and services.
Hi, Welcome to the Professional Services Buyer’s Journey. As you’ll learn in this video the world of professional services sales and marketing has changed. Now your clients start their search online and only call you when they are shopping around on price and terms – your once valuable expertise, products and services are being turned into commodities. At the same time, while consumers seem to have more information and choice than ever before, in reality they are lost – because they aren’t qualified or enable to make informed decisions on their own.
They don’t realise it, but what they are looking for isn’t information – it’s professional advice uniquely tailored to their unique situation and goals.
How Professional Services Marketing is Changing
I’ve spent 10 years studying and implementing online marketing strategies for professional services firms – I’ve watched the birth and rise of social networks and the transformation of the online professional world first hand.
Today I’ll share my model for how your customers search for, choose and buy your services online. Then I’ll talk about how we, as professionals, can get involved earlier and position yourself as the online expert in your space and guide your clients toward the best solution for their unique situation..
Who is the professional services buyer’s journey important for?
This presentation and model are ideally suited to professionals who work in health, accounting, financial services, business coaching, consulting or legal spheres – anywhere where your expertise is the product or an essential part of the value you provide.
These professions have historically been seen as highly desirable, respected and well paid. While they retain some appeal, their status and rewards have been eroded by growing disruption in the industry. A big part of this has been the democratisation of information. 20 years ago if you needed information on an obscure piece o legal or medical information, your only options was to see a doctor, likely in a University or research facility – this information was totally out of reach for most people.
Today, this information is within the reach of anybody with an internet connection.
This is a profound change, but it’s just one of many – technology, social and economic factors are all eroding professional’s place in society. Chances are that you’re facing competition from non-traditional quarters – large corporate competitors, institutional competitors,even other professions entirely, and overseas outsourcing.
Increasingly, your clients are turning to the web for advice – largely from unqualified peers – you are in danger of becoming irrelevant.
All these factors are interfering with the trusted relationship you’ve developed with your clients – so it’s critical that you understand how they search for, choose and buy your services so that you can get back in the game.
So this is for you if you rely on your expert status, education or knowledge to solve clients problems – probably 1:1 with clients.
It’s also for you if you prefer working with clients than trying to figure out how to get new ones.
And you are in the right place if your clients love what you do, but they don’t always know how to refer you the kind of clients you want.
Why bother learning this stuff and then taking action on it?
What’s possible from doing this work?
- Attract More Clients
- Build reputation as expert (+get prime jobs)
- Stop competing on price (people seek you out and want what you’ve got)
Do you really need more clients? Or just better ones?
Generating more qualified leads for your business is great – but is it what you need? Some businesses need more clients, while others need to position themselves as experts (to attract specific clients or work) while others need to differentiate themselves to prevent competition and price-shopping.
Learning what will make the biggest difference to your business is important.
Regardless, you’ll want to address all three in your marketing.
In order to make an impact in your marketing you need to be visible, credible and remarkable so that you are seen, listened to and remembered by your ideal client.
The Professional Services Buyer’s Journey
When your clients have a serious problem and need your help, they turn to….. the internet.
Their first step is often to search for their symptoms on Google to try to make sense of their problem
Then they’ll read online forums, help sites, social media and other resources to try to figure out what’s wrong – to try to self-diagnose their problem. As you can imagine, they often get this wrong….
After they’ve started to work out what they think is wrong, they’ll quickly start looking for solutions. It’s important to remember at this point that people are hoping that their problem is simple, easy and cheap, with a solution to match. This tends to lead to a bias towards shortcuts rather than true solutions. This is sometimes their first sign that they really need professional help.
Having established some likely solutions, they then start searching for places to buy them – they search for providers.
It’s only at this point that they will call you – but not to ask for advice – just to ask for a price. You’ve become a commodity provider in their eyes – somebody who sells something they need.
Then, if your price is right, and you say all the right things, you might get the work. But the professional engagement has started off on the wrong foot. It’s hard to provide complex, trusted advice when your clients think they could do it themselves.
This isn’t what you signed up for when you started studying or opened your practice.
Lets take a look at what you are doing wrong and how we can fix it.
Why most professionals fail online
Most professionals fail online because they fail to connect with and engage their clients as they begin their buying journey.
Lets take a look at the buyer’s journey again – and look at the contextual opportunities for engagement.
The 5 stages of the professionals services buyer’s journey
Most professionals fail online because they fail to show up when their clients go through the 5 stages of the online buying process.
- They’re invisible online
- They’re antisocial
- It is hard to share their expertise or refer their services
- It’s difficult to buy from them, without committing to a big investment
- They don’t explain how they solve their client’s most challenging problems
All these things mean that most professionals are absent from the online conversation that your clients are involved in – they’re at risk of becoming irrelevant.
It’s little wonder that when their clients call, they view them only as commoditised service providers. The thing that they have that’s most valuable – their knowledge, expertise and insight, isn’t on the table – they’re holding it back for their paying clients. But this means that new prospective clients miss out on the exact information that they need to realise that they need expert help.
To turn this around, they need to learn from successful online brands and start getting into the conversation and becoming more relevant, meaningful and valuable to their new and existing clients.
How Successful Digital Brands Engage their Buyers Online
Successful brands show up when their clients search online, they engage with the online, they create shareable content, they are easy to buy from, and they clearly express their value in terms of the problems the solve for their ideal clients – which lets them scale their business beyond referrals.
Successful Digital Brands are:
They do this by investing in building their online profile and growing their digital influence.
There are 5 steps to creating a successful digital brand.
First, you need to build a platform to build your brand – the technology that lets you communicate your value to the world.
Secondly, you need to Position yourself as the go-to expert in a specific area.
Thirdly, you need to publish your unique expert insights and perspectives to help your clients get the results they deserve
Fourthly, you need to package your services into bite-size chunks that make it easy for clients to buy from you and start working with you.
Fifthly, you can promote your brand based on your ability to solve your clients most pressing problems.
This isn’t a fast process, or an easy one, but that’s great news for you, because it means you won’t have much competition – most people just aren’t prepared to put in the time and effort necessary to get there.
In fact, most people won’t do any of these things. And the ones that do are in such a hurry, they want to skip straight to the end and promote themselves online without getting the first 4 steps right.
You can guess what happens – they end up deciding that online marketing is a waste of time.
Don’t be one of those people – take the time to do all the steps, in the right order.
Want to learn more? Check out my video training on digital marketing and lead generation for professionals
5 Steps to Grow your Digital Influence
Lead Generation for Professionals