Sales Funnel For Professional Services

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Professional services involve a range of various occupations and professions coming together to provide support and assistance to businesses such as consultancy, advisory services, and so on.

Sales funnel is the buying process a company or business leads the customer through when purchasing. Research has shown that sales funnel for professional services who are constantly generating revenue all have one thing in common. 

A close study of the big 4 professional services; Ernst and Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, KPMG all reveal that they have a common sale funnel– a well-defined sales funnel that uses technology to maximize results.

In professional service firms, decisions are made by teams and not individuals making the sales process lengthy. As a result, they only tend to focus on their target market and nothing else.

They also know specifically the categories of people within their target market that play the major roles in the buying process and seek to appeal to them.  These firms also need to know who their user buyers are, who their economic buyers are, and which procurement bases they need to focus on to close a deal.

In essence, sales funnel for professional services usually involves high deal values that take a great deal of time to close.

The Professional Service Sales Funnel Flow

i. Lead Generation

Here, you need to develop various techniques to convert a prospective customer into a lead. The first thing you need to do in developing a lead generation process is to identify the different marketing channels which you will use to bring potential buyers into your sales funnel.  

Some of the common marketing channels for professional services are content marketing, emails, networking, paid adverts (Google AdWords, LinkedIn sponsored posts, etc.), referrals, and so on. Irrespective of the marketing channel being used, there should be a means to track and measure how effective it is by measuring its key performance indicator. 

ii. Lead Qualification

As we stated above, most professional services sales process requires a significant investment in resources and time to attain. You must identify and qualify the lead that does not fit your target profile so as not to was time going after the wrong leads. This way you can focus your time and resources on just the qualified lead, that is the lead that fits into your target profile.  Typically, in every professional services sale funnel, there are three stages of lead qualification:

– Marketing qualified leads

These leads match your target market profile like industry, buyer role, size, and so on. If your marketing channel is content marketing, this qualification can be automated.

– Sales qualified leads

This lead is the second stage of the lead qualification process. Once a lead qualifies as a marketing lead, the next step is to check if the lead is worth pursuing or not. 

To achieve this check, you can review the company’s website or LinkedIn profile to have a better idea of who they are as well as their mission and vision. This insight would give you an overview of what they represent and lead you on as to whether they would eventually purchase from you or not. 

Aside from this step, you can also check your website metrics for information like what content the lead downloaded, which pages they viewed, how long they spent on a particular page, which emails they viewed, and so on. This step would give you an overview of what their interests are.

– Sales qualified leads

This lead is the second stage of the lead qualification process. Once a lead qualifies as a marketing lead, the next step is to check if the lead is worth pursuing or not. 

To achieve this check, you can review the company’s website or LinkedIn profile to have a better idea of who they are as well as their mission and vision. This insight would give you an overview of what they represent and lead you on as to whether they would eventually purchase from you or not. 

Aside from this step, you can also check your website metrics for information like what content the lead downloaded, which pages they viewed, how long they spent on a particular page, which emails they viewed, and so on. This step would give you an overview of what their interests are.

– GCPT and BANT qualified leads

GCPT (Goals, challenges, plans, and timing) and BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline) are the ways by which professional services firms qualify real sales opportunities. It is not a smart move to go after a lead that doesn’t have the budget to purchase what you are selling or one who does not have the peculiar problems your solution or services is offering. 

iii. Sales opportunity

A sales opportunity is when you have a qualified prospect or lead who is very much likely to become a customer. At this stage of the funnel, you have identified qualified sales opportunities and working towards converting them to customers.

At this point, you want to follow the steps below sequentially to convert your sales opportunity to customers.

  • Set up meetings to identify your prospect’s needs and requirements
  • Get the decision-makers on board with your proposed solution that is addressing their needs
  • Let the decision-makers see what they stand to benefit from your proposed solution i.e. the ROI
  • Get internal approvals indicating you can go ahead with the job
  • Send them a contract for execution
  • Receive the signed contract and payment to get the job started

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Top Marketing and Sales Strategies For Professional Services

Sales is basically about convincing your prospects to purchase your services or solution offerings. It is about closing sales opportunities. Marketing, on the other hand, is about promoting or making your products or services known to your target market. It is centered around creating demand.

When it comes to marketing and sales, you need to ensure the right strategies are in place to maximize productivity. Here are the top marketing and sales strategy for professional services.

1. Seller-Doer Strategy

This strategy is the most common strategy, especially for small firms. Here, the person making the sale is also the person doing the work. One of its advantages is that the prospective clients would be fully aware of who they will be working with even before the deal is closed. This strategy allows you to build familiarity and trust with your prospects.

2. Traditional Seller Strategy

Here, a salesperson would be responsible for generating and closing the deal. As soon as the sale is closed, the doer comes into the scene to carry out the work.  The major advantage of this strategy is that you have dedicated roles that ensure everyone is focused on their respective roles.

This strategy is not widely adopted in professional services firms. This strategy does not give room to build familiarity and establish trust. However, in some rare cases, the strategy can still be made to function effectively.

3. Seller Expert Strategy

Here, there is a sales specialist who will drive the deal and a dedicated expert who would carry out the job. The advantage of this model is that it allows clients to experience a firm’s expertise while also having a dedicated sales professional.

In that sense, it represents the best of both worlds. This approach requires high expertise and highly compensated staffs so it is only adopted for huge deals.

4. Business Developer and Closer-Doer Strategy

Here, a sales-oriented professional is responsible for generating and qualifying leads but they are not responsible for closing the deal. So, in this model, the salesperson is referred to as the business developer. An expert is then expected to close the deal and do the work.