Practice Edge is a new consulting and executive training business that launches this week in Northern Ireland.
How is it different?
Practice Edge’s sole focus is to help professional services firms strengthen their skills in business-to-business sales and commercial performance.
Built on extensive research with practitioners across the island of Ireland, Practice Edge offers a focused formula for success based on input from leading firms working in legal, accounting, and business advisory services.
Why are sales skills important for professional services firms? Jim Irving, one of the co-founders, explains: “Professionals are ‘professional’ for a reason. They’re experts in their specialised domains. They have experience and qualifications and know how to adhere to the appropriate regulatory standards. But their firms are also commercial organisations that need to sell their services to prospective clients.
From our research, we found a high degree of internal capability in marketing and ‘business development’ in most firms. But there is also little or no formal training for partners and other client-facing professionals on how to sell effectively and to engage more successfully one-to-one with existing and prospective client contacts.
Very few firms focus on training their professionals in the ‘human-to-human’ sales skills that exist in most other commercial businesses. That means they can be missing opportunities to add value and create more profitable client relationships.
This is where Practice Edge can help; for example, by offering training, individual skills improvement, tailored workshops, negotiation skills mentoring, assistance with pitch preparation etc.
As society and commerce continue to wrestle with the fallout from both Covid and Brexit, professional and ethical client-facing sales skills will become increasingly important to firms’ recovery and commercial success. After all, how will firms win new business and grow their relationships with existing clients – if not by selling themselves?
Co-Founder Jonathan Lancaster says: “For years, we have successfully helped entrepreneurial, fast-growth companies win valuable competitive business and develop long-term client relationships built on trust.
Today, we start to share that experience with ambitious professional services firms across the island of Ireland. Whether that’s pitching for new business, or equipping senior partners, directors and other client-facing professionals with specific skills to better engage with their clients.”
The founders are domain experts in their own field.
Jim Irving brings 44 years of high-level business experience in more than 25 countries. Since moving to Northern Ireland from Scotland 11 years ago, he has focused on helping local start-ups and technology companies fine-tune their performance.
He is the author of two leading business books. His first book, The B2B Selling Guidebook, was listed as one of the world’s Top 20 new books on sales for 2021 by Book Authority.
Jonathan Lancaster is the founding director of Belfast-based consulting firm Covato and is a business growth expert, with a record of success with local and international businesses. For the past 16 years, he has helped organisations adopt professional and ethical sales principles to win business, increase revenue and deliver greater value to clients.
Together, the founders will also benefit from a network of practitioners who will assist Practice Edge by acting as their advisors.
Jim and Jonathan are available for comment on business, growing the NI economy, business ethics and improving sales standards in the professions.