Competing for new business in the professional services sector can be tough, even for mature companies with big budgets and well-established practices. If you run a middle-market professional services firm and you’ve never engaged in growth marketing, it can feel like an even bigger uphill climb.
No matter where your firm lies on this spectrum, your challenges in developing new business might stem from one root cause: You haven’t gotten the whole organization involved.
It takes a village to bring in new professional services business that aligns with your goals. That doesn’t mean it’s insurmountable; it just means you need to be strategic and thoughtful about how you approach it.
Unclear Roles = Unrealized Goals
In any organization, marketing and sales each have responsibilities that support new business. But many times, they don’t fully understand their respective roles in the process or how they relate to each other.
When marketing and sales operate in silos and don’t understand how each contributes to bringing in business, their efforts will inevitably flounder.
In some professional services companies, there is little or no interaction between these functions. Even when there is interaction, it’s often riddled with friction. Marketing passes leads on to sales, and sales deems them “no good.” Or sales is busy working qualified leads and needs help from marketing in the process, but the marketers claim they’re too busy on other projects.
It has all the makings of a contentious relationship.
Marketing and sales serve distinct purposes. But when it comes to developing new business, they’re intertwined—or at least, they should be. Professional services firms that leverage the capabilities of both functions and get them working in sync create an unbeatable competitive advantage: a vibrant revenue funnel that turns leads into closed deals.
How Professional Services Marketing Contributes to New Business
The main function of professional services marketing is to understand the target market’s needs and wants, then promote the company’s services to increase awareness and interest among the target audience.
Simply put: Marketing uncovers what your ideal buyers want and need, then makes sure those buyers know that your firm can fill the gap. It’s a one-to-many function, in which you communicate to a target market as a group.
Marketing supports new business development by making it easier for sales to approach a buyer who fits your ideal profile. When buyers are exposed to your offerings before sales gets involved, they’re less resistant to engaging because they already know about you, what you provide, and how it can fill their need.
When marketing warms up the buyer first, it also builds trust—setting the stage for sales to make a personal connection and improving the odds of closing the deal.
Exactly how does marketing warm up the market so that sales can close a red-hot prospect? By engaging in activities like these:
- Conducting research to understand what’s important to your ideal customer
- Keeping the company top of mind with current customers and prospects
- Working with the product teams to ensure your offerings meet customer needs
- Maintaining a professional image of the firm in the marketplace, ensuring all your communications stay on brand
- Keeping the revenue funnel full by generating leads through a wide range of tactics, collateral, and campaigns—from social and email marketing, to search engine optimization, content marketing, website revamps, paid and earned media, and many other approaches
- Measuring the success of each tactic and campaign using analytics, then refining and adjusting to do more of what’s working best
How Sales Contributes to New Business
Sales is a very different discipline, involving a one-to-one interaction between the salesperson and a single buyer that’s been warmed up by marketing. In B2B industries like professional services, it’s rare for buyers to make a purchase without meeting and building trust with someone from the business.
Sales contributes to new business development by engaging in activities like these:
- Nurturing warm leads generated by marketing, until they become hot prospects that are ready to buy
- Maintaining strong relationships with current clients—both to find ways to serve them better and to build a loyal base of brand evangelists
- Identifying new referral sources and strengthening relationships with existing sources
- Engaging in cold calling (usually via email)
- Networking at online and in-person events like trade shows and conferences
- Leading one-on-one presentations and demos
- Managing contacts in your customer relationship management system, so they’re always aware of who is in the funnel and what stage of the sales cycle they’re at
- And of course…closing deals!
What Happens When Marketing and Sales are Imbalanced
In a perfect world, professional services firms would place equal emphasis on marketing and sales—the best way to create a strong funnel that generates predictable revenue growth. When marketing and sales aren’t balanced, your new business results will suffer.
- If you place more emphasis on marketing than sales, you’ll enjoy high visibility and good brand awareness. But you’ll see a low return on investment because there isn’t enough focus on asking for the business and closing deals.
- If you place more emphasis on sales than marketing, the sales team will have trouble closing deals because you haven’t built enough awareness and trust in your brand among target buyers.
The delicate balance between sales and marketing is a lot like the experience of dating.
Sales without marketing is like going on a blind date: Neither party knows much about the other, and there’s been no opportunity to develop trust yet. (Awkward!)
Marketing without sales is like not getting a date at all: If no one ever asks the buyer for a commitment, you never progress beyond the point of “talking.”
Getting Everyone Aligned on Professional Services Marketing Strategies
In today’s competitive marketplace, your professional services firm can’t afford to embark on a series of blind dates. And you can’t sit home waiting for the phone to ring. If you want to achieve aggressive growth, you need to get marketing and sales equally involved in new business development.
That means getting marketing and sales aligned on the same goals, rowing in the same direction, using consistent processes and systems. It means leveraging the synergy that comes from marketing and sales working as partners. And it means respecting that they each have distinct purposes and engage in different activities—but it all needs to work together to ensure you have a revenue funnel full of leads that turn into sales.
More and more, the job of getting the whole organization supporting new business falls to the Chief Growth Officer (CGO)—a catalyst who bridges, but doesn’t replace, the marketing, sales, service, and product functions to ensure they support your growth plans.
Most middle market professional services firms can’t justify a full-time in-house CGO. That’s why many turn to Marketri for Fractional CGO services. A Fractional CGO gives you a slice of a professional with the experience and capabilities to align all the disciplines it takes to drive growth, without tying up significant salary dollars.
If you’re ready to get your sales, marketing, service, and product functions working together to drive aggressive growth, schedule a call with Marketri to learn about our Fractional CGO services!