I spend very little time wondering when the economy will improve. I think a lot more about the health of the markets our firm serves, like professional services. That’s where we make our livelihood.
So I was excited last week to ask a dozen people who should know: where is the professional services market going? The reason they should know is because they all sell services into it: sales training, executive search, marketing management, thought leadership, association memberships, compensation strategies, legal counsel and B2B public relations. We are all members of a networking group.
One somewhat surprising conclusion: smaller companies were more likely to buy professional services than larger ones. This was put forward by Tony Tiernan of Authentic Identity, Ford Harding of Harding & Co., Suzanne Lowe of Expertise Marketing and Meg Wildrick of BlissPR. Why? Some thought smaller companies with venture capital or private equity funding were more liquid. Other said the big companies were still cost-cutting.
On the other hand, Stuart Sadick of Heidrick & Struggles felt most cost-cutting had been done and that a “return to corporate decision-making was at hand.” He has generally seen a higher level of activity in his executive search practice. John Furth, president of the Association of Management Consulting Firms, sees opportunities for his constituents in government and healthcare consulting, adding that the picture in retail, real estate, automotive and financial services was “confusing.”
David Rhoads of DHR Consulting pointed to charter schools as a “market of opportunity,” noting that there were now 4,600 such schools in the U.S. and half of them belonged to networks. “The networks need many of the services that we provide,” he noted.
In sum, the expert panel was decidedly upbeat. That made my day.
Based on your experience, do you concur?
(Photo by catherine.harkins)
To reach John: