Author of The Consultant with Pink Hair. Sales and marketing advisor to architects, engineers, lawyers, and management consultants in Canada, the US, the Caribbean and Europe.
Market positioning is strategic planning for professional services firms in it's purest form. It is NOT branding and it is NOT a unique selling proposition and it is NOT a slogan NOR an elevator pitch. It's also not super hard to do if you get a little bit of good advice - but if you get it wrong selling your services is very, very difficult.
RFPs are a major time waster and huge challenge for professional services firms. Our experience advising the BUYERS of professional services gives us insights we can share with you to make better "go - no go" decisions and understanding the best ways to (i) ensure compliance and (ii) maximize your chances of winning if you do have to participate in this brutal process.
Selling professional services requires three things.
1. Your firm must be well positioned
2. You must understand buyer behaviour as it pertains specifically to the purchase of professional services
3. You must have and understand how to use the tools and tactics of selling professional services.
We assist with all three of the above.
If you are in Canada there is a program offered by The Canadian Association of Management Consultants (CAMC) and IRAP (Government of Canada agency) that helps small businesses to hire Certified Management Consultants (CMCs). They provide $5,000 in funding (which usually means 30-40 hours of a consultants time as the consultants provide a discounted rate through this program) and there is only a modest ($150?) administration cost to the client. Once you have been approved for the program the CAMC provides you with three consultants to interview and you are free to hire whichever you choose or to request another three choices. The link to the program is here http://www.cmc-canada.ca/provincial_institutes.cfm?Portal_ID=72
Focus on your narrow and specific expertise, targeting a very specific type of client and just sell that. In time you may find that you can transfer your very specific functional expertise to other types of clients but do this in a sequential targeted fashion, not a broad approach. Be wary of cross-selling other services in which you are lesser qualified - in most cases it is a fantasy that will waste a lot of your time.
Good luck with your practice.
A frequent collaborator of mine, Cal is a leading sales consultant to management consultants and one of the foremost authorities on how to buy professional services. I've cited Cal numerous times now on his perspective on the flaws of applying standard procurement processes to professional services. Both buyers and sellers know the system is broken, but Cal's is one of the few voices that not only takes a stand on this issue, but also offers an alternative way forward for both sides.
Based on my extensive research and experience in analyzing the value propositions of a broad range of service-based organizations, I have found that Cal Harrison's Beyond Referrals provides clients with a unique insight into a critical area of procurement.
As a result, Cal equips his clients with an ability to effectively solicit, select and engage suppliers to deliver a fair and equitable "best value" outcome.
Furthermore, his efforts to enrich the industry as a whole is both noteworthy as well as reflecting his unwaiverring commitment to his profession.
Over the years I've known Cal, I have always been amazed at how quickly and effectively he can see a problem and provide a solution.
I first met Cal Harrison about five years ago at ConFab and we have been friends ever since. His professional services marketing process (particularly for management consultants) is superb and he has a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" from IMC-US (very rare). He does a monthly webinar on different aspects marketing professional services which I never miss.
Cal is highly recommended!