BD tips and insights

Perceived advantage in professional services

July 27, 2016 | Posted in: Grow your business

Maybe you’re one of those fortunate professionals who has such a stand out service to offer that it’s clearly technically superior, demonstrably better, and so reported by objective analysts and high-profile “industry authorities”.  You and your firm have no trouble attracting, winning, growing and retaining right-fit clients.

More likely, the professional services you offer – while better than many – are neck-and-neck with alternatives.  Our research into Australasian law firms in 2014 and 2015 shows that the biggest marketing and business development challenges facing firms are “competition” and “differentiation”.

If you belong to the neck-and-neck category, it’s essential to work hard on perceived advantage for as they say perception is reality. (In the first camp, you already have a clear advantage, but adding perceived advantage is always a good idea).

Perceived advantage in professional services

Perceived advantage is about what happens in the mind of prospective clients and clients. It results from:

A better professional service may deserve to win over the rest, but the fact is that perceived advantage often wins the race. We see this perceived advantage winning out in formal competitive tendering situations where a General Counsel will favour big name law firms over smaller but equally capable professionals. Hey, no one ever got fired for buying IBM.

A professional services firm with strong and distinctive brand personality, impressive profile, and the right reputation will enjoy success with even “average” products or professionals.

Their perceived advantages may be sufficiently strong to overcome apparent service weaknesses, at least for a time.

Though marketing communications and a strong online presence is important as a backdrop to your professionals’ ability to attract and win clients, we never recommend relying on marketing alone to paper over fundamental structural problems.

You can work on structural problems and also develop perceived advantage by designing and developing your service delivery processes to:

  • more comfortably fit with clients
  • ease interaction between your business and theirs
  • provide minor desirable add-ons at no-charge
  • minimise their concerns
  • mitigate the insecurities and risks they perceive in proceeding with your service.

Beyond marketing communications and branding to create perceived advantage what matters at the moments of truth – the critical times when consumers are selecting the professionals with whom they will entrust their work – is having professionals who can muster the most appropriate and effective business development behaviours to leverage perceived advantage into paying clients.

If perceptions of your firm don’t advantage you in the market, talk to us about how we can help.

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