Relationships, Relationships, Relationships…

relationships, relationships, relationshipsRELATIONSHIPS WIN YOU WORK

It’s an old cliché, but relationships win you work when you are trying to sell professional services to targets or existing clients.  Buyers have to trust you and believe in you, so you are likely to have built a relationship over time.  At one end of the relationship scale we have clients who trust us so much they wouldn’t go anywhere else for the services we provide.  At the other end there are all those cold or slightly warm contacts that don’t really know us and are unlikely to buy from us, however good our proposition maybe.


We researched the success factors that sell professional services by asking partners and senior fee earners to rate 17 different points.  So despite the challenges of the global downturn and the changes in the way we communicate through social media; relationships built on trust over time came out as the highest rated success factor.

We widened the definition to: Develops relationships with a broad range of targets/clients over time, in order to gain trust to generate the desire to buy.  Too often people selling professional services focus on the ‘selling’ and not on the ‘buying’.  By reversing the perspective and looking at you and your services through the eyes of your buyers, sellers are more likely to be successful at relating and persuading.  In fact all of the top five success factors were about relating to the buyer.


When building relationships, partners and fee earners have to be selective about who they invest time with and how they spend precious business development time.  In professional services firms this is a tough challenge as there is often a relentless focus on utilisation of chargeable time and recoverability.  Many relationships may require investment of time and effort by people who have little of it to spare, which may not convert to chargeable work often for potentially a year or two.  The fee earner is left with the challenge of persisting or giving up; they certainly don’t want to come across as pestering or desperate in their pursuit of work!  This will hardly build trust.  Just like in the property market where the term location, location, location stresses the importance of the where the property is situated, when selling professional services….relationships, relationships, relationships are vitally important.

You may find the following resources valuable about relationship building to sell professional services:

  1. Success Factors when Selling Professional Services – Check out the other 16 success factors we discovered and their importance:
  2. Trust in Business – The Core Concepts – The Trust Equation, Trust Creation Process and Trust Principles in a business relationship can be found at:
  3. Motivation to Buy – This Selling Growth Model focuses on the motivation of buyers and the importance of relationships:
  4. Ways to Build Relationships – This article focuses on building relationships on a daily basis:
  5. Levels of Relationships – Link to JA Consulting Levels of Relationship Model blog –

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