Professional Services Sales Myths And The Explanations Behind Them

In my world of professional services sales I hear a lot of interesting sales myths.  Let me share a few along with my explanations behind them.

“It takes an average of (insert any number here) touches before a client will hire you.”

This one is crazy but I hear it everywhere. Clients hire good professional services firms on their first meeting all the time and conversely clients refuse to hire bad professional services providers no matter how many times they are “touched” by them.

In the professional services world there is no predictable correlation between number of “touches” and buying.

So does this mean you shouldn’t send out e-newsletters? That’s not what I am saying. What I am saying is that buyer’s will buy when they shift from the early to the late stage in their buying cycle. And that can be triggered by the 1st newsletter or the 100th or possibly never. There is no magic number.

(And by the way – using “an average of” as any kind of metric is useless. Always rely on discreet numbers, ranges or clusters for benchmarking.)

“Professional services sales is a relationship business.”

Professional services is an advice business. You sell advice, not relationships. Relationships are simply conduits to buyers and are not what buyers buy from you. That is an important distinction to remember.

“No-one buys based on your website or social media. They have to meet you in person and get to know you.”

If it’s true that 70% of a buyer’s decision is made up before contacting you that means your online presence is 233% as important as meeting you in person.

“Facebook is for personal stuff not business.”

Do you stop being an architect/lawyer/consultant/engineer/CEO/etc./etc. just because you’re browsing Facebook?

Of course not. That’s as silly as saying that any management books you read in bed have no influence upon your professional life because you didn’t read them at the office.

“An RFP is a fair, efficient, and transparent way to select a professional services partner.”

There is so much wrong with this statement that I am currently writing a book about it.

“Procurement people don’t know what they are doing when it comes to buying professional services.”

In any profession there are folks that are good at what they do along with some folks that aren’t so good at what they do and the procurement profession is no different.

Having said that I believe problems with professional services procurement as done by an institutional or government procurement department are usually the result of one or more of the following three things.


  1. A lack of leadership by the professional associations of the vendors in pushing back against inappropriate or inefficient procurement processes.
  2. A lack of procurement leadership by the senior executive of the buying organizations.
  3. The presence of archaic or unreasonable procurement policy.

“Branding is business strategy.”

No. Branding is critically important to reflect or communicate your business strategy. However, that does not make it business strategy.



One Response to Professional Services Sales Myths And The Explanations Behind Them

  1. Pingback: The BIG ticks: Best articles for financial advisers this week – The Financial Adviser Coach

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The Consultant with Pink Hair

"This should be required reading for consultants AND their clients - especially the part about RFPs." - Blair Enns, Win Without Pitching

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