In recent years, several times I had the opportunity to help Professional Services companies develop their sales activities, or who prefers, Business Development area.
Of course, as I am primarily involved in recruitment, our role was to attract people from the market who will bring new competences, new insights and new practices in this area. At the same time, discussing with the Clients information gathered throughout our work has expanded the discussion to other companies’ strategies. As well as tools used and different approaches to selling very similar services.
The baseline was typically similar, company had significant knowledge, specialists, well-defined services, target groups, carefully prepared offline and online materials. Often at least had a recognizable brand or international support. At the same time, too often it was losing to other, often smaller, companies that may have less of the above, but a different style of operation. For example, they were more agile, proactive, aggressive in a positive sense, better equipped with and able to use demand marketing / lead generation / sales process management tools.
These observations sooner or later generated an interesting question – for Professional Services sales effectiveness, is it more crucial what subject matter experts do in this area or specialized salespeople who can be referred to as Business Development experts? Based on the observations of the most significant companies in the industry, I would consider that one and the other, if the company is able to ensure a well-organized and smooth cooperation between them. This seems to be much more appropriate than a one-off response, that one or the other.
Interestingly, many Professional Services companies, even well-known and large, do not have a modern business development function or it is under construction. There is often a clear lack of competence in the tools I mentioned before or proactivity in the areas of market intelligence / networking.
Returning to the strict recruitment yard, assumptions coming from our experience suggest a new look at the effectiveness and performance criteria for the Business Development Manager, whatever consulting services are involved. Of course, the industry / subject matter experience is still valuable. At the same time approach based on the sales process and KPI’s, knowledge of tools and proactivity in BD role can produce a lot. The company usually has many experts and less Business Development people, sometimes just one. Unlike our recent Client. They hired two people from our recommendations, although initially only one was planned.
Finally, I would like to repeat the question from the title of this Article – who should sell Professional Services?
1. Experts on the basis of their knowledge of the subject matter.
2. Business Development experts (market intelligence / networking / demand marketing / lead generation / sales process management).
3. Just bots and other fully automated tools.
4. Everyone together.
5. Someone completely different, that is …
I invite you to discuss.