Professional Services Marketing Blog

Buying Behavior and Professional Services: A New Research Study

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How Buyers Buy Cover Detail

 

Wouldn’t it be nice to peer inside the brain of your potential clients and see how they select a firm? Or to see what really matters to your clients? Or what about discovering your competitors’ blind spots? Yeah, that would be useful, alright.

Well here is your chance.

Hinge Research Institute (that’s Hinge’s advanced research arm) conducted a study of 822 buyers of professional services (Buyers) and 533 professional services providers (Sellers).

In this study, Buyers were clients of Sellers. This allowed us to look at buying behavior from both perspectives. There are some real Venus vs. Mars moments to be sure.

Detailed free reports are available for each professional services industry we studied:

10 Key Research Findings

  1. When searching for a new provider, Buyers first turn to friends and colleagues (71%), making a strong brand (reputation and visibility) the top consideration for Sellers. Online search is the second most popular way Buyers seek out a new firm, with 11% overall usage and an impressive 27% in Management Consulting. This fits nicely with our recent findings described in Online Marketing for Professional Services.
  2. A good reputation is the most important selection criteria and is more important than an existing relationship in closing the sale. Cost is a minor consideration in the final selection.

    What Tips the Scale for the Winner Chart
  3. Buyers see most value in specialized skill and expertise (68%), good connections (42%), and a bottom-line impact (21%). Sellers are misjudging their value to clients. For example, only 2% recognize their bottom line impact. This insight into buying behavior is a great opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.
  4. Buyer loyalty is very different across industries. For example, 2-3 year loyalty is 73% in Accounting but only 44% in Technology Services. The best way to lose loyalty is to not do what you say you will.
  5. Over 79% of Buyers would like more services from their current provider. Unfortunately, 48% admit they do not know which services Sellers provide (Sellers think 80% don’t know), so the opportunity is missed. Sellers do a poor job of helping Buyers buy more.
  6. Most Buyers are more willing to recommend (69% are very willing) their service providers than the Sellers realize. Another blind spot revealed. If they don’t recommend, it is usually because no one asked them (72% of the time) rather than because they were dissatisfied.
  7. From the Buyers’ perspective, the best marketing strategy is to develop a reputation for producing results (47%) and personal relationships (27%). From a buying behavior vantage point, most common marketing strategies miss the mark. For example, less than 1% of Sellers are seen by Buyers as developing a reputation for producing results.
  8. Most professional services firms have relatively strong reputations but suffer from low visibility. For example, 63% of Technology Services Sellers are seen as having an excellent reputation, but only 5% are seen as being very visible in the marketplace. There is a real opportunity to build a much stronger brand if you approach it correctly.
  9. Sellers tend to have common blind spots. They overestimate the importance of cost (54% vs. 28% for Buyers) and customer service and underestimate the importance of industry knowledge on buying behavior.
  10. On many measures of buying behavior, there are important industry differences. To make the results more useful we have developed industry specific reports.


Please select the complimentary full report for your industry. These reports are free and contain supplemental data and commentary on selling professional services from our friends at RAIN Group.


We would love to hear any questions or feedback you may have on the study. Enjoy and prosper.

Free Study: How Buyers Buy - Accounting & Finance

Free Study: How Buyers Buy - A/E/C

Free Study: How Buyers Buy - Management Consulting

Free Study: How Buyers Buy - Technology Services

January 30, 2013

Fred

Do you have research study for Contractors?

February 3, 2013

Lee Frederiksen

Fred, not sure which type of contractors your thinking of. If it is the build things variety, their results are in the A/E/C report. Thanks…lwf

February 5, 2013

Theodore Manakas

This is great material for Professional Services Business Developers and Capture Managers.

February 10, 2013

Lee Frederiksen

Theodore- Thank you for the feedback. That’s who it was intended for (as well as marketers and senior executives) so it seems to be working. Thanks again…lwf

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Jan 21 2013