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Research Shows Results, Reputation & Relationships Key Factors When Purchasing Professional Services

by Jen Frost November 3, 2016

One North releases comprehensive analysis on how professional services can win more business

CHICAGO, IL (November 3, 2016)- One North, a digital agency, released new strategic research highlighting key aspects of how professional services get purchased by key decision makers. In conjunction with Greentarget Global Group, One North surveyed key decision makers at some of the largest companies across the U.S. to identify what criteria they use to evaluate and hire professional services firms.

64 percent of the hiring companies ranked “results” as the most important attribute they look for when making a decision to hire a professional services firm. 

“If you come in and tell me how many cases you’ve handled like this, or how many projects you’ve done that are similar, I’m not impressed. How many of those cases did you actually win?” noted one survey respondent. “You also don’t get credit for claiming you have done hundreds of data analytics projects for Fortune 500 companies, but you can’t answer how many you completed and how many were under budget.”

The report showed professional services firms vying for new business must have a solid professional reputation, both at the firm and individual level, with a relationship-based approach that focuses on the long game. Providing specific results, industry insights and value-adds, like thought leadership, drives differentiation in the mind of the professional services buyer. Websites, conference presentations and whitepapers were noted as providing value in the buying process.

“The research reveals some broader implications of how decision-makers think about the buying process,” said One North CEO John Simpson. “Professional services marketers need to consider not only the company brand and its story, but the personal brands of its talent pool and how those narratives fit together.”

The research discounts some traditional methods of new business acquisition. “A professional services firm that relies on advertising or cold calling to attract new business probably has a static client roster. Digital tools give the self-directed buyer immediate access to valuable content, experience information and professional details. As a result, in-person meetings don’t need to focus so heavily on this background detail, and instead should be focused on how the professional services firms can help the prospective client solve the problem at hand,“ remarked Simpson.

More than 80 global companies completed the online survey in the third quarter of 2016, with 51 percent having $10 billion or more in revenue. The respondents, including C-level executives and directors, provided quantitative and qualitative responses revealing what is necessary for professional service firms to win their business.

This research was undertaken by the research arm of Greentarget, a strategic public relations firm focused exclusively on business-to-business organizations. Entitled “Results, Reputation & Relationships: What Professional Services Buyers Are Really Looking For,” the report was released today at One North’s annual Experience Lab customer conference at the Chicago Athletic Association.

Access the full report and findings here.

About One North

One North is a digital agency dedicated to delivering compelling customer experiences for professional services organizations. One North has partnered with hundreds of businesses to produce digital solutions aimed at strengthening their most valuable asset: their relationships. From brand planning, digital strategy and creative services, to front and back-end development and technology support, One North’s team of 90+ innovative minds work collaboratively to create digital experiences that intelligently connect business strategy and marketing activities. For more information, visit

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Jen Frost
Managing Director, Marketing

Jen Frost is Managing Director of Marketing at One North. She works closely with the Digital Strategy, Experience Design and Technology teams to develop and enhance One North client communication and exterior messaging strategy. In addition, she provides general marketing direction for One North and promotes internal culture.

Favorite season: Fall is my favorite season. Probably because I used to live in Massachusetts, and it is just beautiful there in the Autumn.

Favorite Chicago spot: The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool hidden in the middle of Lincoln Park.