The beauty of the Web is that it gives you unparalleled access to a welter of information.
Finding the gold at the end of the rainbow is another matter though!
When it comes to my passion – business excellence – (particularly for professional service firms), I am still astonished by how much free information exists that if applied consistently, could make a profound difference to how firms ply their trade.
Having distilled down a vast amount of information over the past 6 months, one thing has emerged as a front runner: specificity. Explain?
It is axiomatic that for professional service firms to prosper they have to have a Unique Selling (or Sales?) Proposition. Most have worked out that the starting point towards differentiation is to specialise in a practice area so that, hopefully, over time they or the people within that team become recognised as the ‘leaders’ in their field. So what’s my point?
My idea of specialisation is to refine it to such a point that you become practically the only person offering that service. An example might be a lawyer who does M&A work and does so only for pizza manufacturers who make pepperoni. S/He becomes so well recognised in this field that they almost demad to be followed except perhaps in circumstances where one competitor would not necessarily want another to know too much about their business.
The trick with this theme is to back a market or product area that has latent potential for growth or where you are not going to find a flock of people following you around, trying to ape your service offering.
When I was in recruitment I ended up being recognised as the leading consultant for recruiting sales people in the writing instruments field. Not only did this accelerate my career and commission earnings but it also ensured that I had a steady flow of referrals from candidates and clients alike who recognised that I was very likely to know of the latest positions or had the best candidature.
Next time you are doing your business planning think where you might already have a small cabal of clients, referrers or contacts where you can steal a march on your competition.
One WORD of WARNING: make sure you are passionate about your designated practice area. I loved writing instruments (and still do) and I am quite sure that this was the deciding factor behind me embarking down this road and persevering when the going got tough (as it always will). If you do not have that wide-eyed excitement and passion for your area of specialism, then what you will find is that you will quickly go off the boil.
- Specialise, specialise again, and specialise with a diamond focus so that you are practically the only person operating in your chosen field;
- Chose an area of practice that has potential for growth. Not stellar growth but something that has shown a consistent pattern of growth over the previous 10 years;
- Align your practice area with you hot spots – where you know you can talk the talk and won’t give up at the first sign of rejection;
- Take the long term view;
- Look for as many areas where you can cross-sell and up-sell the firm’s services;
- Stay authentic. Don’t change who you are – you will quickly get found out.;
- Don’t be afraid to tell everyone you can about your new found love; you may be surprised with how many other people share the same passion.