Winning new clients is a long old game, so I’ll cut to the chase. Chances are it’s Experiential, with a big dollop of Insight, although some elements of all are involved. Let’s take a canter through each.
Relationship selling was how it used to be done. You got close to the client and the relationship became so strong, they gave you the business. Life’s not like that anymore. On the other hand, if the client thinks you are just obnoxious, they simply won’t work with you, no matter what approach you adopt. And if you aim to become a Trusted Advisor to existing clients, relationship building is absolutely essential, so this remains an indispensable skill, just no longer the principal approach to selling.
Consultative selling is about asking the client questions of various types, until you discover their pain points. Then you press on those, before providing relief in the form of your services. The ability to ask meaningful questions is important in all forms of sales and marketing, but it can be slow, and it is not always easy.
Insight selling is a huge step forward, and short-cuts much of the difficulty and time associated with the Consultative approach. Here you essentially use your professional skill and experience to give the client insights into their challenges – including showing them challenges they did not realise they had. Placemats are a simple, powerful tool here and used well, you can see lightbulbs appear above the client as your insights give them new, valuable information about their challenges (whilst at the same stage in the meeting, your competitors will still be explaining how wonderful their firm is, or will have moved on to the hackneyed, counterproductive, old “what keeps you awake at night” question).
Experiential turbo-charges your efforts, by allowing the client to “sample” your services, thus demonstrating – because seeing is believing is very, very, very powerful – how good you really are, without having to go through a long and tortuous process of persuasion. And it ties in very easily to marketing programmes, paradoxically making it not just fast and powerful, but cheap.
Now all of this only applies if you are selling something other than generic services. And for Insight to work, you must be genuinely expert enough to have meaningful insights to share in the first place. But if you are selling expert, complex, valuable services, then you might want to just check what approaches you are adopting in your BD efforts, and ensure you are operating at the Insight / Experiential end of the spectrum.
As always, time is short and there’s much to do, so good luck and get cracking.