was chatting to an Ecademy member yesterday and a couple of issues came up which I thought I would share with you because I see them time and time again with people in business to provide professional services of some sort. For example, web design, coaching, consultancy, training, accounting services etc

The first issue that this very talented lady clearly demonstrated was that she defined her business by her craft which in this case is coaching. When she networks she talks about coaching. When she produces promotional literature she talks about coaching.

The second issue is that because her craft can be applied to so many different areas, she is casting her net wide. She does not want to let any opportunity to coach slip by.

Both of these issues are inter-related in terms of their effect.

“Whats wrong with that?!!” you might well say and many people do!! I used to think like that too and there is a certain logic to it. There is, however, a different way of looking at things. I discovered that to achieve the results of successful business people I need to be thinking in the way they do.

Firstly, people rarely spend money on professional services for the sake of it. They do so because they have a problem they want to solve. This is all very logical!! You would not dream of spending £200 a month on optimising your website for the searchg engines. You would perhaps be interested in generating a constant stream of leads from your website and be prepared to invest £200 a month. The problem is (perhaps) a lack of leads at an affordable price. Talking about the problem of lead generation will also highlight people who are currently using another vendor and not getting satisfaction. It could also provide future business ideas for lead generation that do not involve web services. Lead generation becomes the hook that attracts potential clients that might go on to getting their website redesigned etc

That brings me to the second issue. When a business can provide so many services, or even solve so many problems they seem reluctant to specialise just in case they miss an opportunity. For smaller businesses it is a far better strategy to operate on a niche basis solving the problems that other people do not, than being a generalist. This is especially true when networking. Better to be different and be remembered than to be the same and forgotten. I know an accountant that is getting loads of referrals from other accountants and financial advisers. Not only is he a tax specialist but he also specialises in pro-active tax planning. He can do things that they cannot and gets called in when the going gets tough.

I introduced two ‘web designers’ together. When they started talking they realised that one specialised in the design and look of a website and the other in the technical aspects. Both solving different problems. They now both provide an incredible amount of referrals to each other. My best source of referrals is from sales training and coaching companies as I personally specialise in incresing confidence in selling and changing behaviour.

My coach friend has fortunately realised that the problems she solves are quite fundamental and by approaching it from the problem (the need) rather than the solution (coaching) she will be able to significantly increase her rates and the leads she generates. She has totally removed the word coaching from he literature and has suddenly found herself being asked to run workshops too!

If your business solves more than one problem then the golden rule is only communicate one at a time. If you are going to a networking meeting and someone asks you what you do tell them the specific problem you solve and who you solve it for.
‘I help people in the professional services industry close more sales’
‘I help small businesses generate more leads’
‘I help growing business find funding for growth’

Having a clear message related to the problem you solve and the people you solve it for will increase the chances of being remembered and generating referrals. Be very very specific!! Think rifle rather than shotgun (or spray and prey as I like to call it!!)