I just talked to a company about a potential speaking engagement for a large group of professional service firm managing partners and marketing directors. Their hoped-for topic is "professional services' consumer behavior in challenging economic times." Basically, their question is: what do professional- and B2B service firms need to understand about the way their consumers behave in a downturned economy?

Now it's no surprise that professional service buyers are increasingly sophisticated. It's certainly no surprise they are even more so in challenging economic times. Money is tight for everyone.

Don't you think, then, professional service buyers would be favorably influenced if their first encounter with a potential service provider — being engaged in that firm's marketing and selling process — demonstrated an extremely effective go-to-market machine? Isn't it important for a professional service firm to show evidence of its own business process acumen to its potential clients?

I'd wager the answer is a resounding yes.

Imagine the reaction of a potential buyer of management consulting services, or engineering, or executive search, or any other professional service. How many times have these decision makers received 17 copies of the same white paper, but from different practitioners within the firm? How many times have they encountered a practitioner, trying to develop business with them, who expresses surprise that someone else might have also been in contact with them? Or who spammed them with mass e-mails, even though they opted out months ago? These are tactical examples (there are a host of strategic examples too!), but you get the idea. 

If a potential professional service provider can't even manage its own marketing and business development processes optimally, it speaks volumes to decision-makers about that firm's ultimate ability to deliver excellent services. And in downturned economies, this issue is even more critical than ever. Their perception of value is — and always has been — of paramount importance.

Share your stories about how your firm is working to address its go-to-market processes. What's not working the way it should? How is your firm working to overcome its marketing and selling silos? How has this influenced your buyers, especially in challenging economic times?