It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness … I bet you never thought Dickens was writing about marketing. But with the last two newsletters, you now know the best and the worst ways to land referrals.
On to this week. How DO buyers of professional services select experts like us? It’s not as easy as you think. Because first, they have to find us … then they have to evaluate us … and only THEN might they select us. It’s a dance. And you gotta learn all the right moves.
And if you’re new here, welcome aboard. This is what we do!
Wanna pump up your professional profile? The Value Examiner editorial board is looking for a few good people to help get its award-winning journal out the door better, faster. I’ve been a board member for over four years, and I can tell you first hand that you’ll rub shoulders with some industry thought leaders, peer review cutting edge articles before they get published, and collect some nice perks. If you’re interested in learning more, email Nancy McCarthy, editor asap.
And have you watched any of Derek Coburn’s free 3-part video series about building a valuable network without going to traditional networking events? Register for it here.
I used to think buyers of the BVFLS services I offer just called and hired me. Then I read The Visible Expert (TVE) by Lee Frederiksen. Stupidly, I never thought much about the extended process my buyers went through before they made that call.
Keeping in mind that TVE applies to various categories of professional services, it’s easy to relate the ebook to BVFLS. Here’s what I learned.
What buyers of professional services value
We first have to know what buyers of BVFLS services are looking for before we can expect them to engage us. According to TVE, here are what our buyers value:
68% – Specialized skills and expertise
42% – Our connections & network
21% – Help impact my bottom line
13% – We have become a trusted team member
10% – The quality of work we produce
Are we known for what we know? Do our marketing and positioning tactics showcase our specialized skills and expertise? How? Is it obvious/easy to find?
And note the low ranking of work quality. I don’t think it came in last because it’s not important to buyers … I think it’s because it’s assumed (as bad as that assumption may be).
Why buyers seek out experts like us
Clients most often seek out experts like us when they have a specific problem. I don’t think that should come as a surprise.
51% – To solve a critical problem
26% – To build the brand & win new business
17% – Confidence conferred by an expert
5% – For a legal proceeding
But we have to position ourselves with that top result in mind – that is, buyers are looking for experts who have successfully solved a specific problem multiple times. It’s an argument for specialization.
How buyers find experts like us
Ok. We know what buyers value. We know why they are seeking us out. So how do they actually go about finding us?
31% – Online
19% – Recommendations
19% – Publications
11% – Trade association/conference
8% – Speaking
8% – Already know us
Holy crap! Going online is the most popular way buyers find experts like us. And it will become more popular as more Millennials make the hiring decisions because they are the generation most comfortable making online searches to conduct their research.
How buyers evaluate experts like us
For better or worse, our websites represent our practices. So when buyers are browsing our websites looking for service offerings, case studies, and authority, what will they find?
81% – Look at their website
63% – Search online (i.e., Google them)
62% – Ask friends/colleagues if they heard of us
60% – Social media
56% – Talk to a reference we provided
<1% – I don’t check them out
But as you can see, an expert’s website isn’t enough. Buyers look for experts in multiple channels, particularly Google and social media, to fill in background information on their candidates. So it’s not enough just to be present on these channels … we have to create a positive impression in all of them as well.
How buyers select experts like us
As these results demonstrate, buyers evaluate expertise by filtering data from a variety of sources – on average, they consider four sources of information.
57% – We come highly recommended by friends/colleagues
38% – We made a complicated subject seem understandable
36% – We have a track record of visible success
31% – Just talking with us inspires confidence
27% – We published articles in prestigious publications
25% – We are frequent keynote speakers
23% – People are always talking about our work
23% – We have the necessary professional certifications
22% – We have prestigious, well-known clients
21% – We kept coming up during online searches
20% – We wrote a book on the topic
20% – We have an excellent online reputation
It should come as no surprise that a personal recommendation is the single most important factor that validates a candidate’s expertise. But there are many opportunities to improve our odds of being selected, most importantly speaking and writing in our chosen practice area or industry niche. Are we taking advantage of them?
It really is a dance. Buyers lead, and experts follow. Unless you know what buyers are doing so you know what you should be doing to get out in front of them. And turn the beat around.
Reading that can help
The Visible Expert: a free 143-page ebook by Lee Frederiksen @ Hinge Marketing.
– If you like what I write about, tell a colleague.
– If something resonates and you want to reach out directly, email me.
– If you think we share common interests, connect with me on LinkedIn.
– If you want a sense of how well your practice is working for you, take this Practice Self Assessment.