Strategic planning in professional service firms requires 3 elements:
1. An understanding of the market and a delineation by segment of market opportunities
2. an internal analysis (effectively a comprehensive SWOT analysis) to define strengths, weaknesses, your competitive advantage and the market segments most likely to require your services, and only then
3. a program to generate revenue.
The questions least often asked and where planning fails are (1) Why do potential clients buy? and (2) What obstacles exist in achieving the sale? There may be a different answer to these with every prospect.
The usual and easy answer to the latter is "price." The answer, not having answered the former, is to reduce fees-a self defeating solution. Defining value must be the response. The focus of the plan must respond to the motivation of the prospects. There must be a need, if resolved, that will contribute to the decision makers personal objectives (ego, status, compensation, performance metrics). Note, not necessarily the benefit to the enterprise. The firm must be able to respond to the need more effectively than competitors. There must be motivation. Often, prospects (management) will deny that a need exists or that outside services are required as a solution. Third party (investors, directors, lenders) encouragement (pressure) to reach for outside expertise may be required to gain acceptance.
All of the other important elements of salesmanship apply. Relationship building, credentials of the firm, performance history, expertise are all critical. But without answers to the 2 questions noted, a plan to generate revenue will fail. Selling professional services is a very personal matter.