What Executives Need to Know About Prospects in the Digital Age

What Executives Need to Know About Prospects in the Digital Age 640 523 C-Suite Network

By Lee Frederiksen


It’s no secret that the digital age is here. Nearly all of life’s daily tasks can be achieved online, from paying bills, scheduling appointments and making phone calls to applying for jobs, taking classes, making dinner reservations and even setting your television to record shows. And that’s just a small sampling.

With as much time as we spend plugged in each day, it’s no wonder marketing techniques have also moved largely online. This transformation in the marketplace has led the way for a shift in how buyers look for professional services providers. As prospects are faced with more options and information than ever before, having a strong online presence has never been so important. 

The digital age isn’t just revolutionizing restaurant reservations — it’s also eliminating the previous challenge of geography. Buyers can now find professional services providers virtually anywhere. With more options at their fingertips, buyers’ needs have changed.

Who are your buyers today?

  • They’re digital natives. They know their way around the web and often look online to search for the products and services they need.
  • They’re in a time crunch. They’re looking for the right solution, but they’re also under pressure and need to find it soon.
  • They expect free information. They have questions that need answers, and they expect to find those answers free of cost.
  • They expect transparency from firms. Potential buyers aren’t looking to hear a hard sales pitch or get the runaround. They want to know what you can offer upfront.

Despite the changes brought about by the digital revolution, many professional services firms are behind in adopting online marketing techniques. For your firm to stay visible and competitive in the marketplace, you need to find a way to keep up.

5 Key Insights Into How Prospects Check Out Your Firm Before Purchasing 

The question of how buyers are checking out your firm is no longer as simple as referrals and references. Online marketing techniques and increased access to information has changed the tried-and-true habits of buyers. In a recent research study, 1,028 buyers of professional services were interviewed to uncover how these new buyers are evaluating potential service providers. The results provide executives with insight on the way forward:


  1. Buyers are looking at your website. The most common response when asked, “Before you hire a professional service provider, how do you check them out?” was “Look at their website,” with 80.8 percent of respondents.
  2. They’re using search engines. The second most common response was searching online, or “Googling” a firm, with 63.2 percent of respondents citing it as a method for checking out service providers. This places further emphasis on the importance of SEO for professional services firms.
  3. They’re using multiple methods. Buyers reported using an average of 3.2 methods to check out potential providers, suggesting that accessibility across multiple channels is essential to stay visible.
  4. References are the least commonly used resource. Once top dog, references provided by the seller are no longer the first place buyers are checking. However, more than 50 percent of buyers still responded that they use them, so they are far from unimportant.
  5. Prospects are using social media — specifically, LinkedIn. 59.9 percent of buyers reported using social media to check out a service provider, and LinkedIn was overwhelmingly the social platform of choice with 70 percent of buyers using it.

Professional services executives can use these insights can help position their firms where buyers are looking. If they’re checking out websites, make sure yours is clear and easy to navigate. Use blogging and other online marketing techniques to ensure your website comes up in their Google searches. Develop a presence on social media, and consider focusing the bulk of your efforts on LinkedIn. What’s the bottom line? If it’s where the buyers are, it’s where you want to be, too.

leefLee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., is Managing Partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge is a leader in rebranding firms to help them grow faster and maximize value. Lee can be reached at LFrederiksen@hingemarketing.com or 703-391-8870.
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