QUESTION on How to Sell Consulting Services
We have formed a company to sell our business management expertise to retail automotive dealerships in the UK. We are not a product lead organization, just consulting services. What is the most effective way to gain the attention of decision makers who will never have heard of us, and who may not even consider using our expertise and the consulting services that we offer. In the UK, most dealerships make very poor use of IT. They do not like spending money on it and our proposition is that we can help them gain more from their investment without having to spend large sums of money on system upgrades.
– Roger (United Kingdom)
ANSWER by Yvonne Buchanan
You believe you have a good product, and state that your proposition is “We can help them gain more from their investment without having to spend large sums of money on system upgrades.”
While this is a benefit, is it a benefit that motivates your buyers? It’s important to look at the world through your potential customers’ eyes: What motivates them? What are their concerns? Their fears? When you know the answers to these questions, you will know your approach.
How do you get the answers? You conduct a survey of your market. You can do this by phone or mail (consider offering an incentive to get better response). Then your pitch becomes how your service will solve their problems, how to combat their fears.
And when you’re doing this survey, find out what trade publications your customers read regularly (these will be automotive-related, not technology-related). Choose the one most often read by your clients and work to get a feature story in that publication for your product. If you’re fortunate enough to get the story, have reprints of it made and send them to your potential customers with a letter, and let them know you’ll be following up by phone call to request a meeting. (And do so.)
And because, as you say, most of these dealers “will never have heard of us, and may not even consider using the expertise that we have,” you may want to get your foot in the door by offering the dealers a free service that they will appreciate. Once they see that you are a quality team, they will be more receptive to your ideas for improving their business systems.
Best wishes, Roger. Let us know how it goes.
Recommended Books on the How to Sell Consulting Services
- The Consulting Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Expand a Seven-Figure Consulting Practice
- An Insider’s Guide to Building a Successful Consulting Practice
- Process Consulting: How to Launch, Implement, and Conclude Successful Consulting Projects (The Ultimate Consultant Series)
- 90 Days to Success in Consulting
Article originally published April 2002. Updated on January 21, 2012
Yvonne Buchanan is a 20-year veteran of public relations, marketing and advertising. She teaches public relations courses online for career changers, freelancers and students through The PR Academy www.learnpr.com and is co-founder of Real-World PR www.realworldpr.com , a public relations information provider for small businesses. Real-World PR offers public relations toolkits (manual/CD combinations) that allow small business owners to create and maintain their own public relations programs.