Have you ever sat down to think about how your buyers check you out before they sign up for your professional services? You might be surprised to find that most of them now check you out online first.
Professional services buyers on average check you out using 3.2 different methods and 3 out of 5 of the methods they use are online.
Your buyers now overwhelmingly check you out online
Today, buyers of professional services overwhelmingly check online before hiring. What do they find when they check on you?
Your website is by far the most common place they go to check you out, followed by a web search, friends or colleagues, social media and lastly references provided by the firm.
The image below shows how professional service buyers check you out and is from research by the Hinge Research Institute
(Image courtesy Hinge)
It’s also important to note that on average, the professional service buyer checks you out using 3.2 of these methods, so you have to cover all of these bases.
1. Your website is the number 1 thing they check
Nearly 81% of professional services buyers check out the websites of potential providers. How does your professional services website stack up against your main competitors?
It’s at this stage of the buying process that your static website pages come into play. When people are comparing providers they’re more interested in your products and services than earlier in their buying process when they need information to help them understand their problem.
They don’t just want to see a list of what you do or how you’re the leader in this and that - everybody is saying that. They want to know how you will work with them to help them solve their problems.
Even though they’re looking at the company focused part of your website it still needs to be all about the buyer. Yes they want to know you have the expertise they need, it just needs to be phrased around the buyer.
An increasing number of these buyers are checking you out using their mobile device. How well does your website function on a mobile device?
2. Then they go for the Google search
63% of your buyers check you out using a Google search. When was the last time you Googled your business name and what results did you see?
If all you see is your website, there’s not much for them to do here as they’ve already checked out your website.
This underlies the importance of having a strong online brand and how important it is to consider search engine optimisation in everything you do online. A Google search has to uncover your social media accounts, any news and PR about your firm, your affiliations and professional associations etc.
3. Ask friends or colleagues
Just because online activities makeup 1 and 2, doesn’t mean that good old personal referrals and references are dead. 62% of people still ask friends or colleagues if they’ve heard of the person or firm.
Just to be clear here, I’m not talking about initial referrals, the kind where you ask a friend or colleague whether they know of a good Accountant or Lawyer etc. I’m talking about when people are comparing professional service providers at the time they’re ready to buy.
4. Social Media
This one will challenge many Australian professional service firms who don’t have a well established social media presence. 60% of professional service buyers will check you out on social media.
Social media is also a place where people seek information from their friends and contacts.
Buyers are also looking to read what people are saying about your business on social media.
When you drill down on how people are using social media to check you out, it’s interesting to note that LinkedIn is far and away the most common platform they use, with 70% of professional services buyers checking you out on LinkedIn.
5. Lastly check with the references you provide
Believe it or not, more people will check you out on social media than will check with one of the references you provide.
I guess it’s easier to ask your friends on social media than it is to call a firms references.
Most buyers of professional services now check you out online and they look at more than just your website. You must have a complete online presence to ensure they get what they need about you in order for them to hire you over your competition.