These are unprecedented times. Chaotic times. Strange times. But most of all, these are times of profound change. And this dizzying change is affecting everyone—you, your clients, and your prospects.
Buyers need to know how to assess products, services and providers in today’s environment. And sellers need to understand how buyers are behaving in these topsy-turvy times. In short, both buyers and sellers need to know what’s going on inside the buyer’s brain.
That’s why we are pleased to announce the 3rd edition of our pioneering study of professional services buyers and sellers. It’s called Inside The Buyers Brain.
This research couldn’t have come at a better time.
About the Research
At Hinge, we’ve studied over 30,000 buyers and sellers, giving us unparalleled insight into the professional services industry.
Our most recent study details the perspectives of over 1,900 buyers and over 1,600 sellers of professional services. We were able to compare results between buyers and sellers across five different groups of firms:
- Accounting & Financial Services
- Architecture, Engineering & Construction
- Government Contractors
- Technology & Software
This study conducted by the Hinge Research Institute provides insight into how professional services firms can win new business and grow faster by better understanding their buyers.
It is organized around several key questions that are critical to understanding today’s buyers and their relationships with the professional services firms that service them.
- How well do sellers really know their buyers?
- What are buyers’ key business challenges?
- How do clients feel about their service providers?
- How do buyers search for service providers?
- How do buyers evaluate service providers?
- How does your industry compare to other professional services?
Here are some of the themes that run through the results.
Some Key Findings
Digital marketing dominates. This edition of the series documents the extraordinary rise of digital communications. Increasingly it is where your prospects are going to research business issues, gain valuable insights and learn about professional services providers who can help them with their challenges.
If you aren’t all-in with digital marketing, your firm’s days are probably numbered. In today’s marketplace, digital is how new business is won.
And, of course the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many firms into a virtual environment where digital interactions are now routine. With so many gaining experience and comfort with virtual services, one might expect that this trend will continue.
The rise of relevance. One of the most significant findings is the continued rise in relevance as a key driver of buyer behavior. Figure 1 shows the proportion of buyers who believe that their professional services provider is very important to addressing their most pressing current challenges.
Figure 1. How important are the services your firm provides to addressing client challenges?
Buyers seek out, are loyal to, and refer firms that they believe can drive their success. With the rise of digital search it is becoming easier and easier to find a firm that is an “ideal match” with your needs. Increasingly, it takes specialized expertise and deep industry knowledge to beat the competition.
If a service provider is able to connect the dots between their service offering and the challenges their target market is trying to solve, relevancy has been established. Our findings suggest that buyers view their service providers are more relevant today than they did just a few years ago.
The traditional marketing model is in trouble. Client loyalty, satisfaction, and referrals are in a slow downward spiral. This has been happening since well before the disruptions of 2020.
It is much easier for buyers to do a web search than it is to reach out to a friend or colleague for advice or a referral. Loyalty suffers if the client does not see you as highly relevant to current priorities and concerns.The old strategies and techniques simply won’t cut it anymore.
What is the alternative? In today’s marketplace, a modern, digital-fueled content marketing approach hits all the right notes. No, traditional approaches are not dead, just much less effective and more expensive. Use them with caution.
Talent acquisition is now a business development function. Having great talent is the top factor that tips the scales for buyers. That means the quality and visibility of your team directly affects your ability to close new business, and ultimately, the bottom line. Having high visibility experts on your team makes everything else easier. It’s easier to gain visibility, establish your firm’s expertise, generate leads and close new business. It’s even easier to recruit better talent!
A Final Thought
If professional services firms are able to better understand their target market and thereby improve their marketing and business development, they are undoubtedly able to grow faster.
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