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3 Unique Sales Challenges of Professional Services Firms – and How Your CRM Should Solve Them

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Whether a company is an architectural firm, accounting firm, ad agency, or law firm, there’s one thing each of these types of professional services businesses have in common: the “product” they sell is intangible. It’s expertise, experience and advice – things (or ideas) that customers can’t touch, smell, or test-drive.

Therefore, if your business is a professional services firm, your customer relationship management (CRM) system should be configured to address these 3 unique challenges that come with selling intangible “products.”

Managing longer sales cycles

When you’re selling knowledge, your primary objective is to position your firm as a trusted expert. However, this process of building trust with prospects to the point that they are willing to spend significant amounts of money for your firm’s expertise takes time – sometimes as long as 6, 12, 18 months or even longer.

Does your CRM provide you with an efficient mechanism to touch base with prospects on a regular basis, perhaps with a monthly e-newsletter, useful articles, special offers on your services, and so forth – without “spamming” or turning off recipients?

When conducted appropriately, each “touch” can demonstrate your expertise and help nudge prospects further along the trust continuum till they’re ready to request a quote and eventually buy your services.

Equipping every employee for sales

If you’re like most professional services firms, you may have a dedicated business development director or marketing manager, but everyone must be involved, at least in some capacity, in the firm’s sales – especially in the midst of a challenging economy. It’s “all hands on deck.” Each accountant, for example, in addition to focusing on billable hours should also be continually on the lookout for new business – whether from client referrals, attending networking events, or following up on incoming leads.

Does your CRM offer an easy-to-use interface for busy, non-sales employees to efficiently enter prospect data and organize that information into the right categories for appropriate out-going marketing communications?

If the system is too cumbersome and time-consuming to use, your non-sales people, especially, will be reluctant to use it, which may lead to potentially lucrative accounts falling through the cracks.

Protecting client knowledge

Your most valuable asset is your firm’s deep understanding of a client’s business. This knowledge and relationship with the client can help erect a barrier that keeps competitive firms from luring the account away from you.

Does your CRM capture and track the right information about your clients? When an account executive, project manager or lead advisor leaves your firm, does your CRM system contain the client data you need to quickly get the replacement employee up to speed – without disruption for the client?

Configure your CRM solution to prevent the loss of an employee from becoming a loss of valuable client knowledge.

CRM SOLUTION FOR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FIRMS

When it comes to CRM for professional services, a one-size-fits-all solution won’t work well. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 offers functionality tailored specifically to the unique sales challenges of professional services businesses. To explore whether Dynamics CRM is a good fit for your firm, contact ERT Group at 954-825-0888.

Enterprise Resources Technology Group, Inc. (ERT Group) is a technology consulting firm that empowers companies to grow and succeed with business solutions that streamline processes, improve productivity, and squeeze more profit from operations. ERT Group is a Florida Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and a 2010 President’s Club member for Microsoft Dynamics – offering Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics ERP.

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