4 Things Professional Services Firms Can Do Now to Engage Prospects

How to engage prospects in an uncertain business world

The way we interact as humans is changing. And that means the way we interact as sales and marketers has to change too.

At Symbiont Group, many of our professional services clients rely heavily on in-person events, face-to-face meetings and personal relationships to engage prospects and build sales pipeline.

But your clients, prospects and probably even your firm have moved to remote work at an unprecedented scale. This shift to a virtual environment will have both immediate and long-term implications for how you interact with clients and prospects and communicate your firm’s value.

At a time when business is anything but usual, how do you engage and connect with your core audience? And more importantly, how do you do it in an authentic and meaningful way?

We’ve been mulling over these questions for the past couple of weeks, and here’s what we’ve come up with:

1. Get reacquainted with your prospective clients

In the age of social distancing, do you know where to find your prospective clients? Or what they’re looking for from you?

Without the benefit of in-person events or meetings, you need alternate ways to engage prospects—which means your presence across digital channels will become more important.

To be effective, you need to understand:

  • Where your prospective clients look for information online
  • Whether they actively search online for professional services, and if so, where they go to search
  • What’s most important to them when evaluating professional services firms
  • The types of information they value and the types of content they like to consume

What you can do now:

Interview two or three of your current clients to understand how they came to work with your firm and ask them the questions above. You might be surprised by (and learn a lot from) some of their answers.

2. Get your digital presence right

You know you can charm and convince anyone you can get in the same room with. But what about in a virtual space? Are you able to clearly and consistently communicate (and prove) your value across your digital content and channels?

Your website must be able to stand on its own and enable your prospective clients to educate themselves without the benefit of having someone there in person to tell your firm’s story. And that goes for your presence across other digital channels as well, including social media.

What you can do now:

Review and refresh two key components of your website: 1) your services or solutions page and 2) your case studies.

Your services or solutions page needs to describe your services clearly and concisely in a way that prospects can understand. The two most common pitfalls we see among our professional services clients are either a laundry list of many services that are difficult for prospects to sort through or, at the other end of the spectrum, service descriptions that are so high-level and vague that prospects can’t understand what they really encompass.

Case studies are critical social proof for prospective clients, so if you don’t currently have any on your website, now is an excellent time to start creating them. If you do have case studies, make sure they clearly express what your firm did to deliver value for the client. Be specific about solution details and highlight the benefits that matter most to prospective clients, not just those you’re proudest of.

3. Get in front of your audience

Once you know where to find your prospective clients and what to communicate to them, how do you make sure they see it, engage with it and convert on it?

You’ll need to define and execute a mix of tactics that help you get in front of prospective clients who are in the market for services right now, as well as those who aren’t actively looking but could turn into prospects down the road. The digital channels and tactics in your mix could include social media (both organic and paid), paid search, search engine optimization, content syndication, display ads, webinars and other virtual events.

What you can do now:

Run some test campaigns on the most common digital channels, including LinkedIn, Google Ads or Microsoft Ads. These campaigns run on a cost-per-click basis, which makes it easy to limit your spending if a campaign isn’t delivering the results you’re looking for.

You’ll be able to test which messages and content resonate with your audience, as well as which channels result in the most engagement and/or the most inbound inquiries.

4. Get a plan

How do you know what’s working and what’s not? And how do you turn that knowledge into a growth strategy for the next six to 12 months?

After talking to current customers and executing some test campaigns, you’ll hopefully have some good data that you can use to direct your digital investments and set some goals for increased awareness, engagement and sales pipeline. It’s hard to plan in the uncertain environment we’re in right now, but better to document a plan now that can be adapted as the situation evolves rather than waiting for clarity to emerge down the road.

What you can do now:

After you’ve gathered inputs from steps 1 and 3, set two or three digital priorities for the next six months. These might include making further updates to your website, creating more or different types of content or running expanded digital campaigns.

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