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VOL. 126 | NO. 102 | Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lori Turner

Lori Turner-Wilson

The Art Of Selling Professional Services

Lori Turner-Wilson

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Law, accounting practices, insurance agencies, architectural firms and financial services companies. These types of firms make up the category “professional service firms.”

The new business development strategy these firms used previously – repeat business and referrals – has been turned completely on its ear. These old ways of growing business no longer apply and competitive pressure is mounting.

Years ago, “sales” was a dirty word among professional service companies. The producers did not want to admit that selling was a part of their job. Networking was attending social events not telling people what they did for a living.

Now many of these practices are struggling to survive, let alone grow.

The firms that are growing are adapting to the changing marketplace by applying a few basic tenets. You can too.

Get over the sales stigma. If you’re not comfortable selling, ask yourself these questions. Do you believe you’re truly helping to improve customers’ lives and the performance of their companies? Are you taking away people’s pain? If so, you’re doing a disservice by not calling on prospects you believe you can help.

Create a consistent process. Merely responding to inbound requests doesn’t position you to pitch the business you actually want and deserve. Get in the driver’s seat. Learn how many calls you need to make per week or month to grow your business according to plan. Systemize your calling efforts so they can be easily replicated by others in your firm.

Share your passion about what you are selling. Today’s buyer is looking for a service provider with conviction – someone to help them make smarter decisions versus a yes-man looking to close a deal. So, speak up and be a change agent. It will differentiate you and most prospects will respect you for it.

Understand the nuances of trust-based selling. In the world of selling professional services sales, you are the product. There is a point in the decision-making process when prospects are assessing your trustworthiness.

You can earn trust by demonstrating genuine concern for both the person and the company and listening more than you’re talking. This is another reason why straight shooting is essential. If your prospect appreciates your candor, it builds trust and the sale will likely close. If not, it probably wasn’t a good fit anyway.

You must make the intangible, tangible. Selling a service can be challenging. Absent a product to hold, you have to help your prospects “see” the value. You can share customer case studies with similar challenges or provide industry best practices to demonstrate that your education and training is relevant. Lastly, involve your prospect in a “typical day” to help them visualize what working with your firm will look like.

If waiting for the phone to ring is no longer an effective selling strategy, it’s time to get out of the office. Build your prospect list, do your call prep and start making appointments. After all, you have some really good news to share, you’re able to take away someone’s pain.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and managing partner of RedRover Sales & Marketing, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Facebook and Twitter.

PROPERTY SALES 50 389 12,758
MORTGAGES 21 248 8,003
BUILDING PERMITS 295 813 29,934
BANKRUPTCIES 35 164 6,064