When I worked as a strategist in the commercial insurance industry, one of my responsibilities was to evaluate new products and business segments that had the potential to increase revenues and profitability for the company. Because of this, I’ve gone through a lot of different business proposals.
When evaluating these business proposals, it is important to look at each of the many aspects that can affect the bottom-line. But there is one key question that is always discussed in the meetings: Will this business succeed in the marketplace?
The Big Question
When you look at the products and services offered in the professional-services sector, you quickly realize that most of them are commoditized.
There are a large number of insurance professionals out there who are selling auto, general liability, property coverage, etc. The same can be said about lawyers who offer help with bankruptcy, real estate law, divorce, or criminal cases. Many of these businesses face a lot of competition from companies that offer very similar services.
Since you can’t change what you offer, if you want to increase your chances of success, you must develop a client-focused value proposition.
Because what you have to offer is a commodity that can be purchased elsewhere, you need to give your prospects a reason to do business with you instead of someone else.
Start by answering a question:
Why Do Your Clients Do Business With You?
On the surface this question seems too easy. You might say that people choose to do business with you for the following reasons:
- Great customer service
- Proven experience
- Your use of up-to-date technology
These three answers, however, are pretty generic. When you look around, most firms have generic value-propositions that say the same things. Even though these three reasons seem valid and significant, they may not be enough to influence your prospects to become your clients.
There is one thing these three generic answers have in common: They focus on the firm, not the client.
Focus on the Client
What do your prospective clients really want? Is it customer service, experience and technology? I highly doubt it. In fact these potential clients may want something entirely different than you assume they do.
That’s why you have to ask your clients what they want.
This is a simple question, but too many firms avoid it. They assume that they already know what their prospective clients want.
Your potential clients may be looking for a firm that can produce results, or for one that can be counted on to always return their calls promptly. They may prefer to work with a firm that does not make them wait an hour for their scheduled appointments, or they may want to do business with a firm that they know can be trusted with the important and confidential matters in their lives.
These answers are much more specific than just good customer service or years of experience.
How Can You Succeed in the Marketplace?
Remember, you are in business because of your clients. You will succeed if you follow this simple step-by-step method:
- Find out what your clients want
- Give them what they want
After you discover what your clients really want, evaluate whether or not you have the capability to deliver it competently. Next, develop your client-focused value proposition. Once you nail this part, you will only have to worry about consistently delivering on what you promised.