Reaching todays “common client”
Marketing Ideas & Sales & Marketing for Professional Services & Sales & Selling & Value Proposition

Reaching todays "common client"

July 5, 2021

by Tony Vidler  CFP logo   CLU logo  ChFC logo
getting-clientsReaching todays common client is not easy for professionals.  They are easy to find for sure, but reaching them and getting their attention is something else again.  When you consider how a buying process happens today it becomes a lot easier to understand why it is so hard – and what one can do about it as a service provider.

 

Let’s use a real life example: our household.  We are probably what could be called a pretty “common client” for many professional services firms, and how the people in our house buy things is probably pretty common too.

 

So we had to buy a tree as a present for someone.  I kid you not.  A weird present perhaps too, but that’s what this person wants.  Not just any tree either, but they want something called a “Persimmon” tree.

 

So here’s how the buying journey has gone:
  • We didn’t know we needed to buy a Persimmon tree until told so by the person in the know.  Conversations were had and we were directed to go down the tree-buying path by someone we trust. It should be noted that they know nothing about Persimmon trees either.
  • I googled “Persimmon Tree” to find out what the heck it was, from my phone while having a wine on the deck.
  • One of the Gen Z’s checked it out too.  She googled it also while watching Netflix and face-timing a friend to tell her what she was doing.
  • She-who-must-be-obeyed skipped the learning about Persimmon Trees and went googling to find out who stocked these things in this fair city on her ipad while supposedly watching a mainstream TV show. She is all “decide and act”.
  • We compared research notes over dinner, each referring to their respective devices during dining (normal behaviour to make a point/win an argument, etc, etc with Gen Z’s co-existing with Boomers in the house)
  • Retailer “X” kept coming up as the top hit for finding this elusive thing and apparently had it in stock.
  • Gen Z wanted to order online and have it delivered (we are only buying a baby tree!).
  • She-who-must-be-obeyed wanted to eyeball the tree personally though…maybe even become friends or something…so an outing was planned to visit Retailer “X”.
  • Drive out to visit to Retailer “X” only to find they did not have such a tree after all. But one of their other stores did according to stock list….
  • We phone other store. 5 times. Get hung up on each time.
  • She-who-must-be-obeyed insists on more road tripping to other store….only to find that they don’t have it either….
  • We select the “phone a friend” option as one of the besties is a horticulturalist and knows about these things.   Turns out persimmon trees are pretty hard to get at this time of year…..wish we’d known that to begin with….
  • ….back to Google….supported by visiting websites of those who say they have one, followed up by phone calls to talk to humans to find out whether what their website says is in fact true….turns out that it often isn’t.

 

It occurred to me in the post-Persimmon-purchase-attempt debrief that this was a pretty typical buying journey for todays consumer, or rather for todays typical consumer household.

 

client-buying-journeyTo be fair, buying a fruit tree is not quite the same as purchasing a bit of estate planning or buying a little bit of portfolio construction advice.  But then, the process is actually rather similar – at least in our household.

If that is similar for us and we are typical, then it is probable that this is typical for many other typical households, isn’t it?

 

The more I thought about it the more I realised that the process has been pretty similar for “purchasing” family holidays, some actual estate planning, and a couple of investment decisions… and the process was pretty much the same.

 

What are the significant observations for professionals from this example?

  1. decisions are largely done by committee in the household – it is a protracted collaborative process
  2. we rely heavily on the influence and knowledge of those closest to us – those who are already trusted
  3. we all research everything online, and count upon accurate SEO to guide us to the optimal service provider
  4. multiple devices are used in the information gathering phase
  5. multiple resources and references are used in the information gathering phase
  6. the suppliers website is considered an important resource in the service provider selection phase
  7. “probable” buying decisions are made before we leave home or engage with the service provider
  8. there is a blend of physical and online connection – we still ring and talk….we still jump in the car and “go see for ourselves”
  9. the committee reconvenes and compares notes…..
  10. It is NOT a swift process

 

So if this is true for this common client, then what must you do to reach them and be considered as an option for when they do eventually get to the actual buying decision?
  • have a strong online presence in multiple mediums
  • position for search.  Key words and phrases and value propositions matter enormously.
  • have an informative website where common questions are pre-empted, and information is up to date and accurate
  • build all online presence and information for mobile – access via devices is more common than access via PC’s
  • understand that IF a prospect contacts your firm then they are already nearly with you….any incoming call is gold.  Speed matters. They’ve already probably been in the buying journey for what seems like forever, and the finish line is nearly in sight….please god, can we be finished now?
  • initial personal contact with an incoming prospect needs to be instantly “service” focussed.  The initial call from the common client today has a purpose: they are already a fair way along the decision-making path.  You have to meet their immediate need if you wish to convert them to a client.  Serve first….then you’ll get paid.
  • understand that the balance of information and decision-making has shifted irrevocably.  In the old days the professional had all the information and had to convince the client to act, and then largely made the client’s decision for them. Now much of (if not most of) the information is largely accessed before the professional is personally involved and a decision has already been made prior to engagement. The decision to act is essentially made beforehand….the professionals role is refine and then execute that action decision using deeper technical and behavioural knowledge.

 

The bottom line is whether you are trying to retail strange trees or whether you are providing professional services you have to put your marketing efforts into matching the consumers buying behaviour.  Figure out how your target market goes through their decision-making journey to use the services of someone like you and then position in advance so you become a natural selection in their consideration phase.

 

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