Can providing value to clients and prospects increase your sales?
For years professional service firms have leveraged networking, referrals, and outbound marketing to generate new business. As a result of the plethora of information now readily available, however, these strategies just aren’t enough.
Now, potential clients don’t need to rely on outbound marketing for education about your services; they can easily comparison shop professional services and consulting firms online.
To reach your potential clients through all the noise and available information, you’ve got to provide value. This is the principle of inbound marketing: If you provide value to your visitors and clients at every interaction, they’ll use you as a resource, develop a relationship with your brand, and trust you with their business when they need your services.
In short, inbound marketing builds trust and drives sales.
Professional service sales typically require multiple interactions with potential customers in order to convert them. Trust needs to be built before the buying decision is made. However once that trust is established and you have converted them, the lifetime value of the customer will typically be very high.
In order to establish yourself as an authoritative source in the eyes of your target audience, you must provide consistent and relevant content throughout the buying process.
Applying Inbound Marketing to Professional Services Sales
Hubspot, the world's leading marketing platform, has laid out the principles of inbound marketing in 4 simple steps:
- Attract visitors to your content
- Convert those visitors to leads
- Close deals with your leads
- Delight your clients throughout the process
By aligning your marketing with Hubspot's inbound mantra, you will attract leads, push them through the sales process, and turn them into lifelong customers, who will spread the word about your outstanding service.
With professional services sales, you need to have multiple channels for lead generation, including inbound marketing, referrals, and traditional outbound marketing material, such as direct mailers. Here’s how it works:
Attract Prospective Customers
No matter the type or size of your business, a website is imperative in order to attract customers and create a professional image. Typically, the first step a potential customer will take to find a business like yours would be to conduct research online.
This is where the attract phase comes into play. You can attract potential customers by establishing yourself as an authoritative source in your industry and providing helpful information. A blog is great place to start and can be applied to a wide array of industries.
For example, if you own a roofing company and you write a blog post about what type of roofing material is best for certain areas, you’ll attract visitors in need of roofing advice, and establish yourself as an expert on roofing.
Focus on providing solutions and positive experiences to your visitors from the very start of the buyer process. By answering the pain points of your audience, you’ll begin to build a positive relationship with potential clients.
The convert and attract phase go hand in hand. Once you've attracted visitors to your site, you’ve got to convert them to leads, so that you can continue to engage them and develop your relationships.
You can convert a visitor to a lead by offering an exchange of some sort. Get them captivated with great blog content, and then provide your visitors with an obvious Call-To-Action (CTA). Based on the content, identify something that you want from your visitors, and something that you can give them in exchange.
When trying to convert, you’ll usually want contact information, such as an email address, name, and other relevant information. In exchange, you may offer a useful budgeting template, a helpful eBook, or even a consultation offer.
Embed CTAs in your blog posts and pages, and use those CTAs to drive your users to landing pages focused on specific actions.
Wondering what makes a good CTA? Check out these great examples.
The CTAs should be clear and hard to miss, figuratively jumping out at viewers. They should direct to related landing pages which make it easy for visitors to accomplish exactly what you want them to. Don’t make them search or struggle!
What does this look like?
We’ve got a great example: We created a marketing budget template to help marketers build budgets for their inbound and general marketing strategies. On the landing page for the offer, we show visitors a field to provide their email addresses. And just like that, we convert our visitors to leads!
Want to see this process in action? Take a peek at our Marketing Budget Template blog post!
Email marketing is a great way to get your leads through the sales process without being too pushy. It’s easy to send spam, but it’s harder to send your leads engaging email content; avoid wasting your leads’ time, or they’ll just unsubscribe.
HubSpot and similar marketing platforms make this process a breeze by allowing you to setup workflows that will send potential customers certain emails based on their lifecycle stage and interests.
The goal with email marketing is to ensure that your leads keep your business in mind.
Send out an email about a promotion you are running or a few customer testimonials, or even something fun that shows your brand's personality; your relationship with your new lead will naturally grow, making the close that much easier.
Naturally, the next step is closing those leads and gaining their business. If you’ve gotten your lead this far through the inbound marketing process, they should already be familiar with your brand. They’ll be educated about your industry, know what they need, and ideally be ready to buy. If they’re not ready to buy something, you’re not at the close stage yet.
The Close stage is where all your inbound marketing work pays off. You’ve given your leads value at every interaction, you’ve kept them engaged with your business, and you’ve proved that resolving their issues is your priority.
If your inbound marketing has worked, your leads trust you, and they’ll do business with you. That trust has become a fundamental part of your unique value proposition to that lead, and that trust will differentiate you from your competitors.
More from our blog: 6 Simple Steps To Quickly Create A Compelling Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
If you are using a CRM, you will be able to see what pages your prospects have visited, what emails they’ve opened, and what has attracted them to your site. You can use this to your advantage to help dilute some of the apprehensions your prospects may feel, while playing up some of the advantages that attracted them to you in the first place.
Once you have closed the sale, the work isn't over. You want to convert your clients into brand advocates that will refer you to others and generate new business for you.
This stage is about staying engaged with your customers. So keep in touch!
Call them to follow up about your work, or send them a few emails about other services they may be interested in to keep your company on their radar and get them talking about you. A well-segmented email list with targeted newsletters is a great way to do this.
Even after the close, you should continue to ensure that your clients are satisfied with your work. Be there to address their pain points, and continue to provide value at every opportunity.
Your clients will talk about you – it’s up to you what they say!
We’re big believers that inbound marketing drives professional services sales. If you’d like to learn more, check out an example of our inbound marketing strategy in practice, or contact us for a free consultation!