How are professional services firms looking to generate new business?

Professional services plays host to a variety of industries including management consulting, accounting and financial services, integrators and technology development to name a few. The common factor among professional services firms is that it is hard to differentiate and break away from the crowd.

But why is it so difficult?

In the last 20 years the challenges and needs of business have dramatically changed as the buying cycle has become customer controlled and new technology has developed. This resulted in business’s needs changing at such a rate that it often outpaced the rate at which professional services firms could fill that need. This mean that the professional services firms have to stay at the top of their game to be able to provide the ever developing services that business require and stay top of mind with customers.

Recently, Hinge Research Institute gathered responses from 530 professional services firms to document current challenges and how this sector is meeting them. Of that number 72% said their greatest challenge was generating new business.

This study found that in order to grow revenue the majority of the professional services firms interviewed (61.9%) were turning to referral marketing.


This makes sense because even though business needs continue to change, current customers, partners and employees can testify to your ability to adapt with the changing ecosystem and provide innovative services and strategies.

But like the varying type and large number of professional services firms that inhabit the professional services sector, the features required to efficiently acquire referrals for your firm can be just as highly numbered and varied.

So how do you go about initiating a referral program?

How to increase professional services’ revenue with referral marketing software

It has become common practice that marketing initiatives now need to incorporate personalization and relationship oriented approaches in order to reach target buyers in this loud and crowded ecosystem.

Referral marketing software harnesses the power of customer, partner, and employees relationships. They do this by introducing your services to their personal and professional network as a trusted advisor.

Unfortunately, firms often don’t have the resources to develop a new initiative like a referral marketing program, no matter how much business growth it can provide. They have to prioritize the needs of current customers over future customers.

Therefore, it’s natural that Hinge Research Institute found the majority of services companies looking to generate referrals (47.8% out of the 61.9%) are deciding to do that with outside resources, aka referral marketing software.


By outsourcing the development of the referral program, professional services firms are able to ensure that they have a referral program that not only integrates with current software, but avoids breakage.  And when a program is targeted at such an important group of influencers, it is critical to provide features that keep each group of advocates (customers, partners and employees) engaged and referring repeatedly. Plus, marketers need the ability to obtain detailed insight to optimize the program, and empower sales to register advocates and generate referrals.

With a referral marketing program that enables those actions, professional services companies can go beyond their goal of just generating referrals, but also reach goal two (increase brand visibility of your firm), goal four (increase the visibility of your experts), and goal five (make existing clients more aware of services you offer).

What results can professional services expect from referral software?

As advocates share your brand it increases the visibility of your professional services firm. And because it is coming from a trusted source, the referrals are going to gain more attention than a PPC ad would.  That’s why studies have proven that referrals convert 4x more than marketing leads (emarketer).

In terms of goal three, some of your best experts on your company and its offerings are current customers, partners and employees. By galvanizing this group you make their positive opinion of your brand visible to greater numbers of your target buyers. By having your advocates share their expertise with their personal and professional network it increases a prospect’s likeliness to buy by 400% (Nielsen).

And by having a referral program that rewards advocates by offering cash incentives, discounted services, or training, you keep current customers informed and excited about engaging with your business and the services you offer, increasing lifetime value by 16% (Harvard Business Review).

It’s no wonder that so many professional services firms are planning on adopting referral marketing programs to push ahead of competitors. It delivers incredible results by taking one of your most valuable unutilized resources (customers, partners, and employees) and utilizes them for an average conversion rate of 35% from referral to purchase (Amplifinity).

To see how referral marketing software can grow your revenue and deliver remarkable ROI, try the ROI calculator now.