If you’re in professional services or selling into complex B2B environments, you’re very likely balancing three key responsibilities: solution delivery, client experience, and also cultivating new business. Cultivating new business might be selling into an existing client, or it might be landing a brand-new client for your firm.
In my experience as both a B2B seller and now a consultant, it takes a strategic selling mindset and skillset to succeed. For my definition of strategic selling, watch this short video.
There are four elements I see as critical to earning new business and growing your client base:
- Strong business intelligence about the client.
- Relationships at the right levels, with consistent access.
- The ability to propose ideas and solutions that compel change.
- The ability to earn commitments all throughout your sales process.
This blog series will dive into each one in more depth and provide you with some ways to actively build these into your sales activities.
Let’s begin with business intelligence. This is your depth of understanding about the client or industry vertical you’re looking to grow. The more depth you have, the more you’re able to step into the role of advisor. You want to be perceived as so valuable to the client that you and your firm are the clear choice, whether it’s a net-new opportunity or a long-term client.
What are some specific ways that you can build it?
Stay current on trends. Being well-read and current on trends builds your opportunity intelligence and your advisory confidence. Trends to consider include industry, global, cultural, technological, product, consumer, political, and those specific to your expertise. This strategy not only helps you with intelligence about their business and industry, but it can also give you better conversational depth when you’re building relationships within the client.
Understand the levers specifically impacting your clients and prospects. Of the trends I just listed, which ones are most important to your clients and prospects right now? Those are the levers to pay closest attention to because they can signify opportunity. Additional levers impacting them are internal levers such as organizational challenges, key initiatives, financial results, and the current vision of top leadership.
Align your sales activities with their buying process. This is an exercise I take my clients through on a regular basis. Can you pinpoint all the steps in a client’s buying process? While there will be some commonalities from client to client, they will also have their nuances. For example, does a twist in the decision-making process take you by surprise? Are there multiple iterations of a proposal before it’s final? Or maybe there are there additional steps to take once a client agrees to work with you that you weren’t aware of. When you know the nuances of their decision-making and buying processes, you can better align your activities to keep momentum. For more on this, read this article on supply-chain thinking in sales.
Stay aware of trigger events. The above strategies help you create long-term intelligence with your clients. Trigger events have a shorter shelf life but are equally as impactful because they can accelerate the decision process. Trigger events are either internal or external and signify that a client may need to move from their current status quo. Status quo (or a non-decision) is a silent competitor to always be vigilant of — especially during these times of disruption where clients aren’t necessarily looking to introduce additional change. Staying on top of triggering events can help you to take a leadership role with your prospects and clients, and they can open doors where you may not have been able to open them before. If you work in an organization with multiple service lines and breadth of experience, look for trigger events that aren’t necessarily in your wheelhouse. This will help you to open doors to other areas of the client’s business. If they’re a current client, this approach will help you to better cross-sell your firm’s services.
To get started with this, select one of your top clients and begin working through each of these strategies with that client in mind. It will undoubtedly open more opportunities to serve your client, and you can also apply what you learn to other clients.
Want to build more of these modern-selling skills? Strategic Selling for Professional Services is live and fully digital! Ideal for teams and individual sellers in both professional services and complex B2B environments. Access two free preview lessons and learn more at learn.amyfranko.com.
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