The new business buying process is a boon for the management consultant who isn't "salesy". In the olden days, say the 1990s, salespeople held all the cards. If you wanted to learn about a company's services, you had to go through the sales professional. If you wanted to evaluate pricing for various purchase alternatives, you had to go through the sales professional.
In the new business buying process, all of that information and more is available 24/7 on the internet. The buyer is now the one who holds the cards. Research shows that buyers complete 57% of their sales process before ever interacting with a salesperson. If you optimize your sales process correctly, buyers will find you.
Rather than manipulating buyers with mind games and sales tricks, today's management consultant can sell her services by doing what she does best - helping prospects solve problems just like she does for her customers.
I've written previously in this blog about what makes a good management consultant. In this post, I'll discuss how to use the factors that make you a good management consultant to sell your services.
Above all else, be helpful
At the end of the day, a management consultant does one thing - help her customers. A good management consultant puts his customer's interests ahead of her own, knowing that this approach will ultimately serve her interests.
Use this same "go-giver" approach with potential customers. Share helpful information that will help them solve their business problems. Every management consultant should have a content-rich website based on a responsive design. A responsive design means that your website will configure correctly for the user whether they access your site via desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Use your website to attract potential customers and position yourself as a thought leader.
Remember, in the new business buying process your website is your best salesperson. We talked about buyers completing most of their sales process before ever engaging with a potential vendor. What are they doing when they're researching solutions? They're performing search engine queries on Google. They're accessing social media sites to hear what others are saying about potential vendors.
When they're searching for this information, it's critically important that they find your company and are able to access the right information at the right time to influence their purchase decision. So be helpful to people by answering questions and sharing information. Karma isn't always linear. Someone you help may never buy from you, but they may introduce you to your most important client!
In order to get found by people looking for the kind of help you provide, you need to optimize your website for search engines and regularly publish content like blog articles, whitepapers, videos and eBooks to help your prospects learn more about the problems you solve. Every management consultant should be blogging weekly at a minimum - it's not an option!
Inbound marketing matches the new business buying process.
A growth-oriented management consultant uses inbound marketing to match their selling process to the new business buying process. Here's a graphical depiction of the inbound marketing process courtesy of HubSpot.
You'll note that the process doesn't end when you sell a new customer. Inbound marketing takes it a step further by providing an excellent customer service experience that encourages satisfied customers to recommend you to their friends and colleagues.
Inbound marketing attracts prospects to your website and nurtures them with relevant educational content until they become customers. For management consultants, inbound marketing provides efficiencies. Rather than using outbound techniques like telemarketing to find the one potential customer in the proverbial haystack, inbound marketing self-qualifies who you engage with from a sales standpoint. If someone wasn't interested in employee benefits consulting, for example, they wouldn't have executed a Google search using the phrase, "How will Obamacare affect my small business?"
I've been a management consultant for over 25 years and I've never been more optimistic about growing my business. We management consultants make our living by helping people and many of us felt uncomfortable using manipulative sales techniques to win new business. In the new business buying process, that's not necessary - we need to make sure people find us when they're looking for help and we need to give them the help they need when they do find us. I think I can do that - can you?