How to grow your service business (part one)
Why establishing yourself as an expert within your field is the secret to attracting new customers
All roads seem to lead to the notion that the well-managed, expert business can win over the clients. People like to buy from an expert and not from a follower.
One accountant is better than another in the mind of a potential client only because the client thinks that he is. Marketing is not a battle for the product but for the mind of the customer.
Most service firms, and firms in general, think that the key to business success is their technical skill-set; however, they don't understand:
… What people really buy … What people really need from them … What people really want from them … The importance of a good bedside manner … The importance of demonstrating benefits / proofs / testimonials … The business development process.
Most ‘professionals' were trained to be technically excellent, but no-one told them how to run a business.
Tip of the day: You should become an expert in the world that you work in.
Become an expert
People hate buying from a ‘follower' or an ‘also-ran' but love buying from an expert; whether you're an accountant, a homeopath or a plumber, you can do it.
And because everyone will know and see you as the expert, they will ask you to do the work and they will pay a premium price for it.
So what does an expert do?
… An expert focuses … An expert writes … An expert possesses … An expert knows … An expert speaks.
As well as the five attributes above there are two additional, yet underpinning, concepts:
… An expert has an ‘ology' … An expert uses testimonials and endorsements.
The interesting thing about these various aspects of being the expert is that they all interlock and inter-weave. (More of this in part two of this article).
Once you clarify your specialisation then you can walk and talk and write about it (using the same case studies or examples) to confirm your expert status. Each element of the expert model supports the others.
Experts present themselves in the position of authority or knowledge; they tend to be seen as what some might call ‘positioners'. They present themselves as ‘positioners' (where they set out to adopt a specific position in the eyes of the customer) rather than ‘prospectors' (where ‘prospectors' are chasing work and clients).
The purpose of most expert activity is to command respect rather than to hustle for business. Often, experts take on what can be described as an ‘education-based' marketing approach to attracting new clients; and this education includes giving away valuable information and advice rather than giving a sales pitch.
The mindset of the successful expert is that:
… Their activity gets them the prospects that they want … They maintain their dignity and professionalism because they are not using heavy-handed sales techniques… they let interested parties come to them – a client pull/attraction approach … They are educating and showing people how their expertise can help … They establish credibility and this recognition is a key driver in personal satisfaction … They have a systematic process for communicating and for delivering work, which means that they are not constantly re-inventing the wheel.
So, what's holding you back?
Most people are happy to run with the pack. However, in this age of mediocrity you only have to be five per cent better than the competition to stand out – and if you stand out then people remember who you are – so go for it!
Why do we need the ‘expert' model?
Put simply, most professional service firms make life very difficult for themselves.
The really small ones have no idea how to run a business; they spend most of their time struggling to find clients; the larger ones may be more successful but also struggle to keep clients in an ever-changing world where the clients, competitors and staff seem to be constantly changing their behaviour.
Question: When most firms in your industry look pretty similar (actually almost identical) then why should people bother to buy from you when they can buy from the competition?
All roads seem to lead to the notion that the well-managed expert business can win over the clients.
In part two, we will examine what it is that the expert actually does.
Robert Craven shows MDs and business owners how to grow their sales and profits and focuses on how to do this in recessionary times. He is a keynote speaker and the author of business best-seller Kick-Start Your Business (foreword by Sir Richard Branson). His latest book, Grow Your Service Firm, is out now.
Robert also runs The Directors' Centre, helping businesses to grow. For further information, contact Robert Craven on 01225 851044 firstname.lastname@example.org