OUR BLOG

LEADERSHIP

Ten Traits Of Organizationally Healthy Professional Service Firms
To Grow Your Professional Service Firm, Prize Culture Over Strategy
TP35: The One Tipping Point Mid-Size Service Firms Must Address To Keep Growing
Seven Reasons Most Mid-Size Service Firms Don’t Grow Very Much
Five Reasons Mid-Size Service Firms Need A New Leadership Operating Model
How Leaders Can Address The Growth Tipping Point For Mid-Sized Service Firms
Five Reasons Professional Service Leaders Should Prize EQ Over IQ
Why Mid-Size Service Firm Leadership Teams Need Collective Objectives To Grow
How To Grow Your Mid-Sized Service Firm: Jealously Protect Your Focused Energy
Why Professional Service Firms Should Consider Circle Of Seven Mentoring Networks
How A Leader’s Energy Field Impacts Team Productivity
Don’t Trade Misery For Money: How Professional Service Firms Can Leverage The Great Resignation
Strong Personality Vs. Strong Person: The Makeup Of A Leadership Council
Custer Or Marshall: Why Mid-Size Service Firms Must Choose Their Leadership Model
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Define And Defend Your Values
If You Want To Grow Your Mid-Size Service Firm, Establish A Formal Leadership Council
Want To Grow Your Professional Service Firm? Focus On The One
If You Want To Grow Your Midsize Professional Service Firm, Align Your Leaders
Why Midsize Service Firm Leaders Must Think Like Entrepreneurs To Grow
How To Grow A Mid-Size Professional Service Firm Today
Why It's Important For Great Leaders To Tell Great Stories
How Great Leaders Persuade Using Word-Pictures
How The Say-Do Ratio Influences Trusted Advisor Status And Profits
Why Service Firm Leaders Should Nurture The Entrepreneurial Instincts Of Their Top People

SALES

Five Strategies For Midsize Service Firms To Break Through Revenue Plateaus
How Pro Service Firms Can Fix The ‘Drop Everything — Chase Money’ Problem
Prospect, Originate, Navigate: How To Fill Your Professional Service Pipeline
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Think Carefully About Your Promise
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 7
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 6
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 5
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 4
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 3
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 2
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 1
How Mid-Size Service Firms Can Acquire Great New Clients On LinkedIn
Five Ways The Consultative Sale Improves Profits
How To Win The Complex Service Sale Consistently
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
How To Break The Grip Of Rainmaker Culture
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
How To Know When Prospects Are Ready
How To Pull Prospects Into Conversations
Nurture Organic Relationships Online
How To Build Relationships With Jaded Prospects
Do Prospects Want To Buy Or Be Sold?
Close Deals Faster Using Proof Statements
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough

MARKETING

How To Market Managed Services - Part 3
How To Market Managed Services - Part 2
How To Market Managed Services Today – Part 1
Why Service Firms Need A Multichannel Digital Marketing Strategy
Does Your Website Attract Ideal Clients?
Why Service Firms Need The Ultimate Digital Marketing Stack
The Myth Of The Time-Starved Service Buyer
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
Why You Need A Generous Brand
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
Are You Measuring Your Time Funnel?
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Five Digital Marketing KPIs
Do Your Users Experience Content Regret?
Content Registrations Are Not Enough
Is Your Website Open For Business
How To Build A Great Digital Marketing Plan
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
The Value Of An Idea Driven Website
Who Benefits From Your Content?
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
How To Get The Greatest Value From Content Marketing
Why You Should Absolutely Give Away Your Best Ideas
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
How To Nurture Ideal Prospects

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DO THIS TO FILL YOUR SALES FUNNEL

THE ROUTE TO CONSISTENT AND PREDICTABLE GROWTH

Many professional services firms struggle with the feast-or-famine phenomenon. They either have too many projects and not enough hours in the day or way too much time on their hands. This makes it very difficult to plan for the future and build a reliable operations plan for people, processes and technology.

If you firm has experienced the highs and lows of project and client-flow, I have a recommendation for you. It’s called lead nurturing. This is the process of dripping ideas, content really, on the right people over time so when they enter a buying cycle, they think of you first.

KEY TAKE-AWAY:

 

LEAD NURTURING IS LIKE FARMING, NOT HUNTING.

The state of client acquisition today for professional services firms

Of the professional services firms who took our Top Growth Strategies poll, 60 percent have stated that in the last 24 months their client acquisition has grown by less than 15 percent. Think about that for a moment. More than 60 percent of professional services firms are not growing all that much.

What’s more intriguing is that 70 percent of professional services firm leaders who took our survey stated that their number one source for new clients is referrals from existing clients.

If you’re wondering who these people are, nearly 60 percent of those who took the survey are president, CEO, general manager, managing director, managing partner, VP of sales or VP of business development at professional services firms. The vast majority of these firms had from 8 to 100 million in revenue.

So this tells us that if you want to realize significant growth in new clients, you cannot rely on existing clients for referrals. You won’t grow all that much. So what does work? What will fill your pipeline with a steady stream of prospective new clients?

Lead nurturing works. If you give it time and build the right kind of programs, it will fill your sales funnel. But let’s make sure we’re all on the same page regarding expectations.

How lead nurturing works

Of everyone you are touching with your marketing efforts right now, 95 percent aren’t in a buying cycle. But 5 percent of everyone you are marketing to is in a buying cycle right now. This is something we have come to call the 95/5 rule.

Now the numbers may be somewhat different at your organization. It may be that 20 percent of everyone you’re marketing to is in a buying cycle and 80 percent are not. The important thing to recognize is that the majority of people you might be marketing to at any given time are not ready to enter into serious sales dialogue. Why does this matter?

I think there are two implications we can draw from this. First, don’t try to close everyone who accesses your content. I know of aggressive sales teams who want to call on everyone who registers for a blog or downloads an infographic or attends a webinar. I think that is a mistake.

Second, only a small portion of contacts you are marketing to will be ready right now. But over time, the vast majority will enter a buying cycle. If you’ve been consistent with dripping great ideas on them, they will think of you first when they walk out of a meeting with a charter to accomplish a goal. You make the short list of people to call.

This is how and why lead nurturing works. It takes time, but it’s worth the time. I think of this as the difference between hunting and farming, or nurturing and harvesting. Hunters go out in the morning and expect to come home at night with a meal. Farmers, on the other hand, nurture their crops over months and then reap a harvest, filling their barns for months to come. Lead nurturing is like farming, not hunting.

How lead nurturing impacts the sales funnel

If you want lead nurturing to fill your sales funnel with a steady stream of great prospects, it’s important to understand how lead nurturing tactics impact two things: the client experience and the sales funnel. Let’s examine the client experience.

How many times have you been to a meeting with senior staff when the conversation went something like this? “Well, Sandy, you’ve made a great point. It’s obvious that we have to address this. Who do we know who can help us?” Silence fills the room.

I have heard this conversation hundreds of times over my career and for all different sorts of issues. This is, for the prospect, literally the beginning of their journey. But they don’t see it as a sales funnel. They see it as a goal they have to achieve or an opportunity they really want to explore or a challenge they absolutely must overcome.

These are the steps that most people go through when they search for a partner to help them accomplish a goal:

  • Awareness. Prospects become aware of a goal, opportunity or challenge they must address.
  • Criteria. Prospects put forward their best ideas to address the goal, opportunity or challenge and assign an initial budget figure — nearly always wrong.
  • Search. Prospects conduct a search to find partners who fit their criteria and help them.
  • Evaluation. Prospects evaluate who they have confidence in to help them achieve their goal, opportunity or challenge.
  • Selection. Prospects accept a proposal and move to next steps.

That is the client experience. But what about the sales funnel? The sales funnel is the series of steps, from your point of view, that most prospective clients will pass through to become your client.

In my experience, most professional services firms have a five stage sales funnel:

  • Awareness. Prospects become aware of your brand, services and content.
  • Consideration. Prospects sample your content to see how you can help them.
  • Interest. Prospects engage in serious dialogue, requesting a proposal.
  • Evaluation. Prospects evaluate your proposal against their needs and competitive offerings.
  • Selection. Prospects accept your proposal and move to next steps.

When we look at these two experiences side by side we see a lot of similarities. To understand how lead nurturing impacts both of these experiences, it is important to recognize two key things:

  • A prospect can sit in the consideration phase for months.
  • While they are sampling your content, you can be shaping their Criteria.

Lead nurturing delivers two powerful benefits to professional services firms who take the time to do it. It helps them establish brand awareness with prospects and it shapes that prospect’s notion of what a successful outcome looks like. If you do this effectively, you make competitors play on your field, by your rules.

If you’ve ever had the experience of trying to sell a service to someone who keeps referring to your competitor, then you know what I’m talking about. It’s not only frustrating, it’s virtually impossible to win them over. I want you to be in this winning position.

So how can you accomplish this goal?

A resource to help you

I’ve recorded an action guide that outlines seven steps to building a lead nurturing program that accomplishes these goals. This free resource is available right now. I really want you to break the feast or famine cycle and make competitors have to play on your field. So please avail yourself of this valuable resource.

About The Author

Randy Shattuck is a seasoned entrepreneur who works hand-in-hand with senior leaders of mid-size professional service firms to grow revenues, acquire clients, open new markets, increase profits and effectively position their brands.

OUR BLOG

LEADERSHIP

Ten Traits Of Organizationally Healthy Professional Service Firms
To Grow Your Professional Service Firm, Prize Culture Over Strategy
TP35: The One Tipping Point Mid-Size Service Firms Must Address To Keep Growing
Seven Reasons Most Mid-Size Service Firms Don’t Grow Very Much
Five Reasons Mid-Size Service Firms Need A New Leadership Operating Model
How Leaders Can Address The Growth Tipping Point For Mid-Sized Service Firms
Five Reasons Professional Service Leaders Should Prize EQ Over IQ
Why Mid-Size Service Firm Leadership Teams Need Collective Objectives To Grow
How To Grow Your Mid-Sized Service Firm: Jealously Protect Your Focused Energy
Why Professional Service Firms Should Consider Circle Of Seven Mentoring Networks
How A Leader’s Energy Field Impacts Team Productivity
Don’t Trade Misery For Money: How Professional Service Firms Can Leverage The Great Resignation
Strong Personality Vs. Strong Person: The Makeup Of A Leadership Council
Custer Or Marshall: Why Mid-Size Service Firms Must Choose Their Leadership Model
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Define And Defend Your Values
If You Want To Grow Your Mid-Size Service Firm, Establish A Formal Leadership Council
Want To Grow Your Professional Service Firm? Focus On The One
If You Want To Grow Your Midsize Professional Service Firm, Align Your Leaders
Why Midsize Service Firm Leaders Must Think Like Entrepreneurs To Grow
How To Grow A Mid-Size Professional Service Firm Today
Why It's Important For Great Leaders To Tell Great Stories
How Great Leaders Persuade Using Word-Pictures
How The Say-Do Ratio Influences Trusted Advisor Status And Profits
Why Service Firm Leaders Should Nurture The Entrepreneurial Instincts Of Their Top People

SALES

Five Strategies For Midsize Service Firms To Break Through Revenue Plateaus
How Pro Service Firms Can Fix The ‘Drop Everything — Chase Money’ Problem
Prospect, Originate, Navigate: How To Fill Your Professional Service Pipeline
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Think Carefully About Your Promise
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 7
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 6
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 5
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 4
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 3
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 2
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 1
How Mid-Size Service Firms Can Acquire Great New Clients On LinkedIn
Five Ways The Consultative Sale Improves Profits
How To Win The Complex Service Sale Consistently
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
How To Break The Grip Of Rainmaker Culture
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
How To Know When Prospects Are Ready
How To Pull Prospects Into Conversations
Nurture Organic Relationships Online
How To Build Relationships With Jaded Prospects
Do Prospects Want To Buy Or Be Sold?
Close Deals Faster Using Proof Statements
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough

MARKETING

How To Market Managed Services - Part 3
How To Market Managed Services - Part 2
How To Market Managed Services Today – Part 1
Why Service Firms Need A Multichannel Digital Marketing Strategy
Does Your Website Attract Ideal Clients?
Why Service Firms Need The Ultimate Digital Marketing Stack
The Myth Of The Time-Starved Service Buyer
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
Why You Need A Generous Brand
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
Are You Measuring Your Time Funnel?
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Five Digital Marketing KPIs
Do Your Users Experience Content Regret?
Content Registrations Are Not Enough
Is Your Website Open For Business
How To Build A Great Digital Marketing Plan
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
The Value Of An Idea Driven Website
Who Benefits From Your Content?
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
How To Get The Greatest Value From Content Marketing
Why You Should Absolutely Give Away Your Best Ideas
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
How To Nurture Ideal Prospects