Marketing professional services is not an adversarial process.

Nor does it result in a win-lose scenario in which the marketer ‘wins’ while leads or prospects are somehow ‘captured’ and converted to clients.

For reasons I have never understood, marketing especially the sales component, is commonly seen as a competitive process between seller and buyer.

A successful outcome occurs when the seller ‘wins the buyer over’ and the sale is completed.

Buying a new or used motor vehicle can certainly become a competition between buyer and seller, each wanting the best deal.

Similarly, the purchase and sale of other commodities and tangible consumer goods are frequently adversarial processes between vendor and customer.

Making The Transformation

There is however a huge difference between providing intangible professional services and supplying tangible products.

Unlike standardized commodities, professional services are one-of-a-kind, transformational relationships.

Service professionals help their clients make the transformation from where they (the clients) are to where they want to be.

To successfully complete this transformation, a mutually trusting relationship between service professionals and clients is essential.

Realistically, it is difficult to develop this kind of a relationship following a competitive or adversarial marketing process in which the prospect is won over to become a client.

At its best, professional service marketing is the first stage of building and maintaining relationships that allow us to serve and satisfy clients. Satisfied clients inevitably leads to an ongoing, sustainable flow of repeat and referral business.

The best way to attract potentially ideal clients is to help them understand how as service professionals we help people like them. In practice, this means carefully targeted information- and education-based communications…not standardized, mass marketing.

How They Will Benefit

Instead of trying to ‘win-over’ reluctant or unwilling prospects, help them understand how they will benefit from becoming clients.

By all means, showcase your personal likability and trustworthiness as well as your professional competence.

But focus on the benefits that clients can expect when they hire you.

Without breaching client confidentiality, tell the stories of transformations in which you have played a key role.

When and where appropriate, include client testimonials that confirm your ability to help clients.

Effectively serving and satisfying clients depends upon maintaining inter-personal relationships with them.

What better opportunity to start building these relationships than as part of your marketing?