Thursday 10 October 2019, Exeter

In its final event for 2019, PM Forum’s Exeter chapter were certainly made to “work for their lunches” by Peter Kane, MD and Founder of the BD Consultancy, and were rewarded with some valuable insights into how to more effectively empathise and hold value-creating conversations with clients and prospects.

Peter began by highlighting to the group a few simple home truths that very often get taken for granted within the professional services...

Firstly, the landscape for buyers of professional services has changed radically. Macro-economic factors and the ‘Uberisation’ of the economy mean that clients have new expectations: quicker service, personalisation, clarity regarding cost / value and, generally, more for less. For the most part, clients and prospects only want to talk to advisers for two reasons: a) to remove risk or worry and b) to improve prospects of financial success.

This has led to a requirement for the ‘T shaped’ professional – who combines depth of subject matter expertise, with breadth of knowledge across a firm’s propositions to provide better client service and to facilitate cross-selling opportunities.

Thirdly, there is a tendency for some firms to fall into the trap of relying on replication and, more often than not, talking about them rather than the client. For example, rolling out a boiler plate deck of ‘about us’ slides as the first BD salvo. Meaningful engagement is about seeing the client as an individual, understanding wider contextual factors from their perspective and tailoring communications to fit.

This, Peter argued, doesn’t necessarily mean extra effort. Running the team through a BD prospect simulation (involving a well-known South West food brand) the group were shown how to apply certain tools – including PEST analysis and Porter’s Five Powers – as well as reviewing sources such as recent media coverage, shared LinkedIn connections and social media activity, to create a rich picture of where the client sits as a business and an individual.

Through this, marketers and fee-earners can differentiate, arming themselves with both an empathetic mindset walking into a meeting, and the “killer questions” which will both demonstrate understanding and showcase where the advisor can add real value.

On the day, the team representing accountants won the commercial questions competition (chocolates all around), with the architects coming a close second. But all were left inspired, and excited for 2020’s programme of events in Exeter. 

Written by Anna Lake
Anna Lake Consulting