As Professional Services Business Development specialist, I sometimes makes assumptions about what Buyers do before they make a buying decision. So one of the things I try to do regularly is to stop and question this based on research into actual behaviour.
An informative read...
Therefore when I recently read an informative report from Hinge on how Professional Services buyers make decisions that asked how they "check out" potential professional services providers (such as an accounting, marketing, legal, consulting, or tech firms) it made me stop and reflect.
The Hinge Research, called “Beyond Referrals, How Today’s Buyers Check You Out” surveyed 1028 buyers of a wide range of professional services including:
- Accounting/Finance 53.9%
- Marketing and Communications 46.6%
- Legal 39.5%
- Technology 34.7%
- Management Consulting 32.9%
Many of the buyers surveyed had also purchased multiple services – so that means it's a survey I needed to take notice of and thought it would be good to share with you as well.
So how do buyers really check you out?
Not surprisingly the number one method of “checking you out”, by a large margin, is looking at the seller’s website.
The next three - Search Online, Ask Friends/Colleagues and Social Media (75% use LinkedIn by the way) were all about the same as you can see from the results below:
- Look at their website 80.8%
- Search Online (e.g. “Google them) 63.2%
- Ask friends or colleagues if they’ve
heard of the person or firm 62.4%
- Social Media 59.9%
- Talk to a reference that they provided 55.5%
So what does that mean for your business?
So logically the first step should be to review your website and make sure it is appealing to buyers – not just “promotes your services”. However you need to make sure that you don’t do what many service professionals do – and do a great website in isolation.
Why? Because the survey showed (and you will know from your own buying behaviour) that buyers use more than one method of research. In fact the Hinge Research shows that buyers use an average of 3.2 methods. That means your business needs to be accessible across the other channels - search, asking friends/colleagues or LinkedIn etc.
However, if your buyers are going to research you in multiple places, you need to make sure they see the right information in all the right places, not just your website, to establish your credibility.
The first step then should be to have absolute clarity about your target market and their problems. Then what services you can provide that solves their problem(s) and why you are the best choice to help solve those problems.
Once this is established you can use the right Marketing Strategies that will reach your target market, allow you to talk about the problems you solve and why you are the best choice to solve these problems. This means getting the right Marketing Strategy for your website content, search optimisation, staff, client and referral communications and collateral, social media content (especially LinkedIn) and your client case studies and testimonials.