Seven Strategies to Rev Up the B2B Sales Growth of Professional Services Firms in 2022

B2B sales differ greatly from B2C sales. The strategies used in B2C sales are not always viable for B2B sales. If you compare the average sales cycle of a B2B company with a B2C company, you will find out that a B2C sales journey can be completed within a few minutes, whereas a B2B sales journey can take on average 4 months. 

Various reasons contribute to long B2B sales cycles, multiple decision-makers, high-value deals, and long-term solutions. Thus, B2B sales departments work differently from B2C sales departments, and accordingly, B2B sales strategies vary. 

In this blog post, we will look at 7 B2B sales growth strategies for professional services firms.   

  1. Align Sales and Marketing 

The quality of leads determines the success of the sales. Therefore, it is very important that an organization’s marketing and sales team efforts are aligned to work toward similar goals. Suppose a marketing team generates leads to complete the targets without qualifying them on set parameters. In that case, it gets difficult for the sales representatives to convert them into clients. 

For example, if a marketing team has approached clients who do not have a budget to purchase a professional firm’s services, they will not likely convert because of budgetary concerns. 

Therefore, sales and marketing teams must be aligned and share feedback for consistency in their business development efforts.  

Professional services firms can use a B2B playbook to ensure consistency. It acts as a living guide for the business development department.

  1. Use CRM Software 

74% of businesses say that CRM solutions give them better access to customer data, allowing for more personalized service. If your professional services firm is not using CRM software to manage the communication with clients, it is time to use it. 

CRM software provides one central place to manage relationships with customers. It allows you to store prospective and existing client information, record service issues, manage campaigns, and more in one central place. The data provided by the CRM software allows the marketing team to channel personalized communications to the clients, enables the sales team to understand the clients better, and permits the customer service team to provide quick solutions to the clients’ queries. 

Adopting a CRM solution improves the overall efficiency of the business development process and helps companies find opportunities to grow business.   

  1. Create a Strong Solution-Oriented Demo 

Moving prospects from the top of the sales funnel to the bottom requires months of effort. Most B2B clients decide on the purchase after the product or service demo. It is the most important aspect of the sales cycle, which falls into educating the client. It is crucial to deploy your best resource for the product or services demo. 

B2B consultants always recommend the sales professional sell solutions, not the products. Educate your clients on how your company’s solution is beneficial for them instead of praising your products. 

For example, if you are a financial services firm that plans to sell your bookkeeping software to a B2B firm, your product specialist has to teach the client how your software will be helpful and address their needs. 

A professional service firm can even create a product playbook that includes all the product or service information for reference during the demo.      

  1. Build a strong follow-up strategy 

Follow-up is important to close the deals. Various reports suggest many salespeople do not follow up with the leads after the first point of contact. It is very important to get in touch with them and assist throughout the buying journey. 

It is said no one wants to be a nuisance, but checking on the clients from time to time is a good way to convert them into leads. Although the frequency of the follow-up varies from client to client, it is good to develop a standardized follow-up plan based on the categories of leads. 

Many companies report that sales representatives need at least 5 follow-ups to connect with clients. Keeping in touch with your clients shows that you see them as valuable prospects. Many B2B companies automate the process of client follow-up with marketing automation tools. However, if you have a narrow list of clients, you can consider sending customized messages for effective communication.  

company-expert 

  1. Follow account-based marketing   

The Pareto Principle in sales says that 80% of the revenue of a business comes from 20% of the clients. Account-based marketing is all about targeting high-worth clients. It is a key sales strategy that B2B firms use to improve  ROI. It involves targeted personalized communication to each client. It helps B2B professional services firms become more focused in their marketing efforts. Instead of having to market to thousands of potential accounts, they have a more concentrated list. 

A salesperson uses various sources to collect the client’s information in order to understand the client’s needs. Marketing communications should be customized as per the client. The purpose of the marketing material is to provide a solution to all clients’ queries. Once all the potential client’s concerns are addressed, it results in sales. 

Qualifying the right leads is very important for an account-based marketing strategy. You can use the account-based marketing playbook to create a customized strategy for your firm.    

  1. Nurture leads 

Not all the prospects you target convert into clients. But there are higher chances that they may use your professional services firm in the future or even recommend others based on their interaction with the company. 

If a company does not have a good lead nurturing plan, it will lose plenty of opportunities. It is challenging and costly to find new leads. This is why it is very important to nurture the relationship with the clients. You can move these potential clients to the warm leads and keep sending the advertising materials. 

A B2B business firm needs to be aware of its sales funnel to move leads through the sales pipeline continuously. Businesses can also get feedback for lost leads. It will help you make improvements at every stage of the sales cycle.  

  1. Make most of the existing customers 

Almost every B2B firm understands the importance of existing customers, but only a few firms successfully build a long-term relationship with them. Surveys suggest that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25% to 95%. 

You may be surprised to learn that 91% of consumers are open to giving referrals, but just 11% of salespeople are actively seeking referrals, making existing clients gold mines. Not only are they easy to upsell and cross-sell new products and services, but they can bring new customers to the business. 

You can use the various strategies to keep building a long-term relationship with existing clients, such as offering rewards to exclusive discounts on new services and assigning dedicated customer success managers.

How can Company Expert Help You? 

Company Expert is a leading B2B growth consultant firm for the professional services industry. We provide a range of B2B proprietary solutions and technology designed to inject speed, knowledge, and growth into B2B financial services, technology, and professional service firms. We have a vast range of B2B sale playbooks in our collection that can be used to develop core operational processes for your professional services firm.

How to Reach the Maximum Growth Potential? Roadmap for Professional Services Firm

Are brainstorming sessions, high-end meetings, and SWOT analysis an ideal approach to elevate business growth? This appears to be more of a feel-good strategy rather than being an effective one. Fortunately, professional service firms have a better way to plan their future growth-referred to as growth strategy.

A business growth strategy is a roadmap that outlines key factors to achieve desirable growth. Growth strategy describes the client’s professional service firm wants to target, their services, and how to position and develop their business. Well-crafted B2B business growth strategy helps acquire assets, attract new talent and drive performance and profit.

Why Professional Services Firm Need a Growth Strategy? 

Growing a professional service firm is not a cakewalk. It’s not easy to acquire new clients; sometimes, a key partner leaves, an important client retires. If it seems impossible to move forward, the B2B business growth plan will keep up the momentum.

A good strategy will replace unachievable business expectations with a reliable and systematic approach. According to a study conducted by Hinge Marketing, the key characteristic of a successful business is visible expertise. To boost growth, professional service firms must make visible expertise a cornerstone of their growth strategy. Other key factors that must be present in the growth strategy include:

  • Focus on business innovation
  • Productize the service offerings
  • Target new market segments
  • Invest in training and development of employees.

7 Major Trends That are Transforming the growth of Professional Services Firms

Business concept growth

The Professional service market is growing exponentially and is forecasted to reach $7063.87 billion in 2025. (Research and Markets). Firms need more than just a b2b sales growth plan to foster growth in such a competitive environment. Professional services firms have to ensure their business plan aligns with the latest trends that impact growth. 

  • Professional service firms must invest in automation to stay competitive and drive efficiencies.
  • Develop a plan for creating virtual offices
  • Invest in blockchain and artificial intelligence
  • Embrace the cloud technology for flexibility and potential cost saving
  • Ultra personalization strategies to foster the client relationship
  • Deploy a value-oriented billing model to increase revenue and profits
  • Enhanced social media presence to boost brand awareness, increase client base and ultimately boost growth.

Ansoff Matrix to Analyze and Plan Strategies of Growth

Ansoff Matrix is a helpful tool for a professional services firm to analyze and manage its growth. The matrix comprises growth strategies along with the associated risks.

Source CFL

Ansoff Matrix Explained for a Financial Firm

Market Penetration: A financial service firm will use its financial products in the existing market. The aim is to sell financial services and increase market share within the existing market. 

  • The firm may decide to decrease the price to attract new customers.
  • Increase its promotion and distribution efforts.
  • Acquire a competitor in the same marketplace.

Product Development: The financial service firm will develop and sell a new product in the existing market. For instance, banks can introduce a new loan with low-interest rates to meet the existing market’s changing needs. 

  • Invest in R&D to develop new products
  • Acquire competitors’ products and create a new product better than the previous one.
  • Enter into a partnership with other firms and gain access to their distribution channel.

Market Development: If the financial service firm owns a proprietary technology that it can leverage in the new market. Or, buying behavior of customers in the new market is almost the same; a firm can enter into a new market with existing products. 

  • Cater to a different customer segment
  • Enter into a new domestic market
  • Enter into a foreign market

Diversification: In this strategy, the financial firm will enter a new market with a new product. The risk is more as both market and products are new. But, they can mitigate this risk through related diversification. This strategy will increase revenue and open new channels of growth for the firm. Diversification is of two types:

Related: where there is synergy between the existing business and the new product/market.

Unrelated: where there is no relation between the existing business and the new product.

To know more about the Ansoff Matrix and how it can foster growth in your professional service firm, use the Ansoff matrix tool from Company Expert, one of the leading B2B consulting firms.

growing steps

7 Effective B2B Growth Strategies that Matters for Professional Service Firms

Working on billable projects, handling clients’ urgent needs, and managing employees hardly leaves any time to focus on growth. As a professional service firm, do you encounter the same problem? Want to increase profits and scale your services? If so, focus on working on your business instead of just working in your business. 

Growth mostly comes from client referrals, marketing strategies, new technologies, and automation in the professional services industry. These factors work in tandem, making it a perfect time for firms to pivot from older strategies and adopt digital technologies to boost b2b business growth.

Know your Ideal Customers 

Get an inside into your ideal audience, their demographics, and buying patterns. For instance, if you are a financial service firm, your ideal client base will be professionals, college students, and upper-middle-class income group people. So, you must tap into the ideal audience and develop a tailored strategy to target them better. The key component of your growth strategy is knowing what your ideal client wants and aligning your services and marketing according to the client’s needs.

Find Services that Drive More Profit

Almost all the company’s services help in increasing growth, but certain services are more critical. These services are the backbone of the company and help in generating maximum profit. Firms must be aware of such services and focus on them more. Track hours invested in these services vs. budget assigned to determine which services will top the priority list. Making a priority list of services is essential for the growth of the company.

Develop Existing Client Relationships

Your existing clients are a gold mine and offer an opportunity for cross-selling. Existing clients know you; they have purchased from you earlier and can act as a reference source for your business. Happy clients will act as word-of-mouth communication, and that is the best way to grow your business. 

To cultivate your existing relationships, acknowledge our clients as more than just paychecks. Maintain exceptional communication with your clients, make them feel comfortable, and be honest with them.

Develop Long-Lasting Strategic Partnerships

Every professional service firm needs a few complimentary services to streamline its operations. For instance, if you own a construction company, many of your clients will need an architect, electrician, or interior designer. Since these services work in tandem with yours, firms should collaborate with these service providers. By acting as an intermediate between clients and partners, firms are adding value for the client. 

Manage your Funds Like a Pro

Improper budget allocation can be a major roadblock in the firm’s b2b business growth plan. Proper financial management is the biggest factor every business, whether small or large, relies on for growth. To properly manage funds, firms have to focus on maximizing the profit at a lower cost, credit management, and procurement of resources. Before procuring any resource, go for a cost-benefit analysis to ensure you get steady returns. Invest in resources that provide more output than input.

Artificial Intelligence can Boost Growth

ai

By adopting AI, professional service firms can boost their calculations, produce a faster response to clients, and meet clients’ demands on time. Through AI, firms can assess the productivity of their employees and determine when the employee is ready to handle a challenging task. Firms can use time tracking tools to track employees working hours and determine time invested in each project and associated cost. AI provides real data to streamline the work process, better manage budgets, and avoid losses due to manual work. Some AI technologies firms can use include:

  • Natural language processing
  • Robotic process automation
  • Speech recognition
  • Machine learning

Win More Clients With Predictable and Well Defined Process

Through a well-defined CRM process, professional service firms can administer communication with customers/clients. The latest CRM software records everything from customer contacts, emails, and social media. CRM tools also provide information about the company’s activity and a 360-degree view of the customer relationship. Better interaction and communication with clients, more the chances to grow and sustain the business. 

Company Expert, a leading B2B consulting firm, provides business assessment tools to guide professional service firms in their growth process. Our business playbooks will guide firms at each stage from the Ansoff matrix tool to the BCG growth matrix tool.

A case study demonstrating how Company Expert created new growth opportunities for a debt management company.

Problem

Our client wanted to diversify their client base and identify opportunities that would continue to drive strong revenue growth while increasing the firm’s valuation. They had an internal Corporate Development Group that identified some opportunities. However, none proved to be viable.

Solutions

Company Expert leveraged its Professional Services capabilities map to baseline the organization. We developed a heat map that allowed us to identify and align with the client on those capabilities that could be leveraged for future opportunities.

We scanned the financial services industry to identify potential opportunities for the firm, coming up with 22 business opportunities that warranted consideration. We subsequently filtered them down to 8 priority opportunities based on evaluating each through multiple quantitative factors and conducted additional market research to narrow the list to 5. We developed a summary industry overview and opportunity analysis for each opportunity, which led the client to develop full business plans for the top 2.

Outputs

  • Capabilities Heat Map
  • Detailed Capabilities Assessment
  • Primary and Secondary Market Research
  • Quantitative Filter Analysis – e.g., strategic alignment, financial alignment, industry size
  • Product Entry Framework Illustration
  • Interview Key Themes
  • Industry “Lite” Assessments
  • Business Plan

 

How to Develop a B2B Marketing Strategy that Delivers Results in 2022

Main image courtesy of Corporate Finance Institute.

Picture this:  The owner of a bank is looking for ways to reach out to businesses in need of loans.  Cold calling and newspaper ads are not providing any satisfactory results. Looking at other B2B companies, the team decides to use online marketing to get new clients.

However, before using online marketing, a firm has to know the ins and outs of B2B marketing and create an effective B2B marketing campaign. Marketing professional services in a B2B competitive industry is not a cakewalk.  When it comes to B2C marketing guides, the internet is flooded with information, but the situation is not that bright for B2B marketing. In order to present a hard to resist offer, B2B firms have to delve deeper into the customers’ minds.

One study shows that 70% of B2B buyers define their needs before engaging with a sales representative. And, 44% of customers know which solution will solve their problem.  B2B clients have clear needs, and it’s the service provider’s responsibility to deliver the same. Firms can only do that through an effective B2B marketing strategy that encompasses keys to success.

B2B marketing statistics every business owner must know in 2022

  • Favorite marketing strategies for B2B companies are blogging, email newsletters, social networks, eBooks, and events.
  • 55% of B2B buyers consider three to five pieces of content before reaching out to the supplier.
  • Through events, brands generate more leads in  B2B settings, and case studies help convert and accelerate maximum leads.
  • More than 80% of social media leads come from LinkedIn.

Factors that Make a Successful B2B Marketing Strategy

Quality and creative content

Publishing low-quality content will act as a roadblock in the firm’s B2B business growth. Clients demand an in depth-review and explanations concerning the content. Firms have to spend a lot of time and effort on each article to make it informative and attractive.

Through content, firms can show how they can solve clients’ problems. They can also use real-life examples like statistical findings and case studies. Also, a longer post catches audiences’ attention if it is properly structured and clearly outlines the main ideas.

Video testimonial works like a magic

When hiring a B2B firm, clients look for reviews and ask fellow customers about their experiences.  A testimonial video will act as a referral for B2B firms and prove their professional authority in the industry.  Common elements that must be present in a video testimonial include:

  • How the firm approaches and communicates with the clients
  • How the firm customizes offers according to client needs
  • Do firms look for long-term client relationships?

Before including videos in the B2B marketing strategy, firms have to ensure every part of the video reflects professionalism and authority.

Include the best channels of communication

Never waste money on irrelevant platforms. The best channels of communication include:

  • Website: make it content-rich and easy to navigate
  • Email-newsletters: it’s the most effective channel of communication
  • Social media: focus on important B2B networks
  • Events: while firms go digital, events provide the human touch which clients appreciate

Measure data, it is the cornerstone of a successful strategy

B2B companies or even B2C companies, can’t improve what they can’t measure.  Even if they have sufficient data, the inability to encode the data and draw conclusions will result in a failure. That’s why firms need skilled data analysts who focus on key performance indicators and promptly identify and respond.

6 tips to craft an effective B2B marketing strategy

Who is your target audience?  What are their needs and preferences?

Want to establish a successful B2B marketing campaign? The first step is to research your target audience.  If the firm is unaware of its ideal buyers, their needs, and preferences, creating a successful marketing strategy will be impossible. B2B companies targets both firmsand their decision-makers, and you should include both segments when creating a marketing strategy. In target market analysis, firms have to focus on:

  • Company size
  • Company type
  • Company location
  • Key points
  • Position of decision-makers within the company

Figure out the main selling points

After defining the target audience and ways to reach them, identify what content will work best for them. Next, outline the main selling points like will B2B product increase client’s sales, improve the customer experience or improve employee motivation. Firms can use statistical data like numbers, case studies, infographics, and other statistics to define the key selling points.  Through the statistical data, communicate to the client’s that firms, products, or service can improve their operations in the long run.

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) will become popular in 2022

As a marketer, do you believe more the leads, the better it is? It’s not always true. In Account-Based marketing, firms focus on creating campaigns that are targeted to a specific audience. In this way, ABM makes live of salesforce easy, as the content and campaign will be target audience-specific. Firms, who include ABM in their B2B marketing strategies, have one primary goal; establish a closer alignment between sales and marketing.  Alignment between sales and marketing leads to:

  • Increase in revenue
  • Greater brand awareness
  • More money from the  deal

To know more about the AMB, use our Account-Based Marketing Playbook.

Live chat and conversational selling will take center stage

Do you think live chats are only for dealing with complaints?   There is no denying it’s an extremely effective customer service channel.  92 % of customers are satisfied with the live chat experience, which is more than any other communication channel.  However, live chat is much more than a customer service function.

Firms can use live chat as their most effective and productive sales channel. According to a study, customers who use webchat will 2.8 times convert more than those who don’t use the feature.  It’s easy to set up live chat on any website or landing page. Firms have to sign up and customize the chat widget.

Have a clear and engaging brand voice

Unless and until you don’t have a clear brand message, you can’t interact with your audience.  To develop an effective marketing strategy, firms have to identify and communicate key messages based on their brand values and the customers’ needs. Next, develop strategies to align the brand message with the target audience. Firms can communicate the brand message via various online and offline channels.

Invest in paid media

Every proactive marketer is aware of the benefits of paid media; both search as well a social.  B2B firms must include innovative digital marketing tactics in their B2B business plan.  B2B firms must move from a tactical, siloed approach to a well-driven strategic approach that includes all paid channels.  Benefits of including paid media in the marketing strategy include:

  • Google ads generate an 8 % click-through rate.
  • More than two-thirds of marketers invest in social ads.
  • Facebook and LinkedIn deliver the best ROI
  • Video posts deliver the highest organic engagement on Facebook
  • 26 % of Facebook users who click on ads purchase a product based on the ads they see
  • 50 % of B2B buyers refer to LinkedIn before making any purchase.

Organic marketing tactics are on the decline because of the decrease in the organic search click-through rates.  In 2022, B2B businesses can’t afford to turn a blind eye to paid marketing activities.  Professional B2B firms have to focus on retargeting i, as the chances of retargeting customers clicking the ads are higher.

In addition to the above factors, other elements of a successful B2B go to market strategy includes follow-up scheduling, growth hacking, completive research, event marketing, and marketing automation.  Amidst changes in the B2B industry, it’s high time for firms to shift from in-person sales strategies to leveraging technology and data to craft a value-driven marketing strategy. 

How will Company Expert help you in developing an effective marketing strategy?

Finding it a challenge to offer unique value in the competitive business environment? Need help in crafting a well-articulated marketing strategy? Company Expert will help you out by using innovative business tools like business playbooks.  Our marketing playbooks will give B2B businesses a road map to boost their growth and stand out in the competition. The marketing playbooks cover everything from B2B positioning and messaging to B2B professional services sales and marketing campaigns.

A case study demonstrating how Company Expert helped a FinTech firm in the evaluation of their business lines against market opportunity

Problems

Our client, a FinTech firm, had two core business lines – one focused on the retirement industry and one on the mutual fund industry. They were a midsized FinTech firm that had limited resources. They wanted a third party to assess these business lines against market opportunities to determine where they should focus their resources.

Solutions

We conducted market research to identify the market size and growth of each market and determine the size of the addressable market. We analyzed their existing P&L and developed pro forma financials. In addition, we conducted an overall competitive assessment of their products against key competitors to identify the client’s key strengths and areas needing improvement.

Based upon the results of our analysis, we recommended that the client exit one of the business lines and focus their resources on a better opportunity. The client agreed with our recommendation and exited the one business.

Outputs

  • Benchmarking Against Competitors
  • Sizing the Market
  • Sales Segmentation
  • Assessed Each Product Against the 4 Levers of Growth – e.g., Optimize Distribution, Enhance Existing Products, Pursue Adjacencies, Grow Inorganically.
  • Industry Research
  • Financial Modelling