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The Research Secret to Marketing and Selling Consulting Services

By Michael Zipursky

A Business Development Manager recently asked me how to go about getting more consulting clients.

It became clear to me quite quickly that Harry didn’t have a ‘selling’ problem. He was solid in that area.

Harry (not his real name) is an experienced professional who has worked in the UK and Canada managing sales and biz dev teams for technology companies.

Harry’s current challenge is that he’s trying to sell his company’s marketing and technology services to manufacturing companies.

His company has a great track-record and impressive case studies. But in the manufacturing world they are still relatively unknown.

I asked Harry several questions about his ideal clients and company’s value proposition.

It became clear to me quite quickly that Harry didn’t have a ‘selling’ problem. He was solid in that area.

His problem was getting the attention of his ideal clients.

You’re no longer the typical ‘consultant’ viewed as a sales person. You’ve become a trusted advisor and someone that understands your buyer’s industry.

He told me that the manufacturers he was trying to reach were all extremely conservative and didn’t even understand what value his company’s services could bring.

I suggested that Harry take an educational marketing approach.

But before that he needed to spend some time doing Strategic Research.

Harry would need to dig into the manufacturing industry and learn about the latest developments, trends, shifts, challenges and weaknesses of his ideal consulting clients.

By doing this he will be able to position himself in a more credible and authoritative position.

Instead of picking up the phone or sending an email and saying “Hi Prospect, I’m Harry with XYZ Marketing Technologies, do you have a minute…”

Harry could now get in touch with his ideal client and start the conversation by asking the buyer…if he knew that his market has been decreasing in size by 7% each year for the last 3 years. That the buyer’s clients were shifting to purchasing from vendors that offered more environmentally friendly solutions. And that the only companies that were actively growing were those investing in new technology and promoting their advantage to the marketplace. And would the buyer be interested in learning more about how his company could achieve this.

Do you see the difference in these two approaches?

That’s the power of Strategic Research.

When you know more about your buyer’s industry than most, you instantly are viewed as a credible source. As an authority and expert.

You stand out and get your buyer’s attention.

You’re no longer the typical ‘consultant’ viewed as a sales person. You’ve become a trusted advisor and someone that understands your buyer’s industry.

That’s a game changer for Harry and for anyone selling their services.

13 thoughts on “The Research Secret to Marketing and Selling Consulting Services

  1. Karlsrule Consulting says:

    You make a great point here. Establishing an authoritative presence is an essential requirement for B2B interactions, furthermore it is also just as important to establish this same presence online if you hope to be successful in both arenas.

  2. Indian Matrimonials says:

    It creates advantages for both customer and business alike.Customer benefits because it provides all customer needs and satisfaction to build a proper business backbone.

  3. Tamarray Cain says:

    I must agree with this article. When I used to be a sales rep in corp. America, that’s how I built up my client list. Awesome article! Thanks for posting!

    • Tamarray – welcome to the community! Glad to hear you found this approach to work for you as well.

  4. David Tong | Salevoke Marketin says:

    Excellent points as always, Michael.

    The mutual benefit and lasting trust that a consultant builds far outperforms a salesman’s approach.

    A little bit of background research pays huge dividends, indeed.

    While the end result is getting the sale, a consultant will most likely get more REPEAT sales (not to mention referrals) with his approach.

  5. Eric Lentz says:

    My company provides custom software services and I’m targeting SMB manufacturers in a certain geographic area and your description above resonates almost exactly. I’m convinced, but where to start? Do I need to go interview people or how do I go about getting this “Strategic Research?” Custom software is, by definition, custom to each client and usually represents an enablement of some proprietary process or formula that makes a company competitive. So how do I find out their need so I can market to it since their need is probably a closely held secret? I can probably leverage some “Strategic Research” to lead someone to custom development, but that’s not exactly a no-brainer for a buyer, getting them from problem to custom software.

    • Eric – can you find some data that talks about the benefits of custom software vs off-the-shelf? Are there case studies of how the custom route provides better results?

      • Eric Lentz says:

        It kind of seems obvious now that you say it but I hadn’t looked at it that way. I just came across your blog today and I’m liking what I’m hearing. Thanks!

  6. James Clarke says:

    I must agree with this article. Also The most gratifying part of training is seeing the people you teach succeed. And we have seen many such cases till now.

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