BusinessLink Newsletter 10 September 2013
By Phil Chichoni
If you are in the consultancy business like me, you probably understand how difficult it is to find enough new clients to significantly grow your business. Accounting and financial services consulting firms are going through some major upheavals. The economic difficulties of the past decade have reduced the number of business owners who can afford their services. When was the last time you were called by a small business owner who was not in trouble with Zimra or his bankers or creditors?
Have you tried running some advertisements about your services in the newspaper? Or sending your brochures or flyers to business owners? What results did you get? Most likely you did not get any worthwhile responses, or if you were lucky, just a few.
How then can one get new consultancy clients?
I was recently sent a new report from a leading international branding and marketing firm that specializes in professional services, the Hinge Group (www.hingemarketing.com). The report is on their research on how buyers are buying accounting and financial services in this changing business environment.
The study involved interviews with purchasers of Accounting and Financial Services (Buyers) and interviews or surveys of the firms that they selected (Sellers). A total of 281 subjects were included. The breakdown was 58% sellers and 42% buyers.
Some companies follow structured procurement process; you have to be on the list to be considered. Government departments and large corporations are good examples.
Of those firms that are open to seeking alternative suppliers of accounting and financial services, here is how they find them: (cumulative responses exceed 100% because the nature of the interviews allowed for multiple responses)
- 87% of buyers first ask their friends, colleagues and people in their network
- 10% search online
- 5 % ask professional associations
- 4% review trade or business publications
- 4% look for an expert in the field
- 2% get names at conferences / trade shows
- 2% review marketing materials on file
- 1% use social media
You get the picture? It is clear that buyers are relying more on people they know for recommendations.
This clearly demonstrates the need for a good reputation and high visibility. In other words, a strong brand. You therefore need to work much harder in developing personal relationships. Network and grow your list of contacts. These are the people who will recommend your services, if they feel you are good in your work and that you can be trusted.
The second most popular response is to search online. This is a very important trend that many firms aren’t aware of or dismiss out of hand. In fact, online search is already more popular than traditional channels such as trade shows or industry publications.
So what are you going to do? For starters, you can download a copy of the research eBook at the Hinge website www.hingeresearch.com. (You might be asked to subscribe to their newsletter in order to access their resources)
Next, start working on your networking. Get to know more people, you never know who may be in a position to recommend you.
This month we at BusinessLink are organizing a special luncheon for CEOs of small to medium sized firms where a high level speaker will be the guest speaker. I will email full details to people on my mailing list by the end of this week. In addition we shall have the Networking breakfast as usual, but it shall have a new exciting twist. Watch the next newsletter for more information.
And don’t forget to share this newsletter with friends and colleagues.
Best wishes in accelerating your growth.
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