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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
- 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