So many people thinking getting business is about selling. Making the ask. Pushing hard and demanding the sale. The thing is, that approach is fine for trinkets, and there are times when you need to hustle, but with a service business, you have to give value first.
Inspired by Gary Vaynerchuck's “Jab, Jab, Jab, right hook” we firmly believe that leading with overwhelming value is the best way to build a long-term relationship with your clients.
The secret is to “Ask”, don’t “Sell”, don’t “Demand”, don’t “Expect”.
So what could that mean for your business?
Our approach is all about offering clients a concrete value proposition at every stage. We start with giving as a core value. This required us to have a serious think about the type of value we wanted to provide clients and be honest and up-front about it.
For any business owner, particularly those offering services, it's an essential step to ideate around this because clients can be quite flighty with regard to decision making, unless the value proposition to engage with you is a compelling one.
Think about it from the perspective that, for many of your clients, the value they feel toward your offering is highest at the start (when it is the cheapest!). If you don't start with them feeling they are getting value, and are valued, it is only going to become harder over the course of your service. This is especially true in legal services, accounting or other ancillary services which a client will see as a sunk cost.
This outlook should apply to every stage of your sales or client engagement process. In very practical terms, some of the area you should focus on includes:
- Your on-boarding of clients;
- Brand building;
- How to keep in touch;
- How you build referrals;
- How you follow up with clients; and
- All potential places to add value and stand out from your competition.
Differentiate your service
Leading with value is a great way to differentiate your service offering.
What better way to demonstrate why you are different than to give something away that others don't?
Especially in the legal industry, there can be a tendency to hoard information and provide anything free, even if its a value proposition. Most businesses have this backward and we are big believers in leading with something that offers value off the bat to clients and engages them on a different level. The reality is, in this day and age you can literally find anything on any given topic online for free. There are no secret sauces and holding back on this will not help your cause. Give away your best stuff, give away more than your competitors and this will help you build an unbeatable brand value.
Your sales and business development process is something that needs to be continuously refined and adapted to your clients and the marketplace more generally. But engagement and quality engagement comes from having a compelling value proposition at every stage, otherwise why would clients engage with your services? You need to make this as easy for them as possible, so offering value and a piece of content that can solve a problem for them or give them guidance is like them getting a sample of your work and what it would be like to engage with your services. It’s an entirely different experience than the cold, direct approach that so many firms take. Remember to warm your clients up and keep them engaged at each stage.
For many businesses, the sales funnel can involve half a dozen touch points or points of engagement from a prospective client before they are converted. If you have a serious think about the process you use to win work, and how your prospects are nurtured along the way, it will quickly become apparent that those businesses delivering value to clients are miles ahead of those that don’t.