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Growth Foundations – Core Competencies To Grow Your Professional Services Firms

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

Growth Consultant

Core competencies are central to an effective account growth strategy, defining what sets your business apart. These are the areas where you excel as an organization and differentiate your professional service organization from others in the industry. Armed with these features, you empower yourself to target clients more accurately and provide them with greater value.

Let’s explore what you need to know about identifying your business’ core competencies and how some effective growth strategy frameworks might look.

The Significance of Core Competencies in Service Firm Growth Consulting

For service firms, core competencies are critical to the entire business growth system. Here are 7 ways to leverage them:

1. Crafting competitive positions and strategies

Your core competencies provide insight into what separates you from your competitors, guiding the language you use to seek out clients. To do this, you should look to all that your business specializes in to inform your overall strategy. This shift increases the chance of you securing more-aligned and higher-paying projects.

2. Clarifying management’s priorities

Knowing your core competencies will naturally prioritize your activities as a manager. In addition, leadership can source employees that align with the business profile more readily.

Creating hiring profiles based on where your business’ priorities lie helps you make the right selections.

3. Incorporating technology use

Optimize your marketing technology with where your business wants to place its emphasis and targets. Your selections, setting up your technology, and optimizing its usage should all center around your core competencies.

4. Resource allocation

As staff members receive their assignments, you can focus on your priorities based on how they relate to the competencies. You can better allocate your resources and know where you want to invest your time and energy to maximize your competitive potential.

5. Partner selections

As you partner with other firms, consider how you are making those selections. Identifying their unique attributes from the position of the core competencies helps you make decisions that advance your company in the right direction.

6. Defining your sandbox

Your business growth consultant would tell you that your sandbox is your self-designated territory, the area in the market where you compete. To outline this area effectively, however, you need to combine your insight into the market and use your core competencies. This puts you exactly where you want be to stake your claim and draw your boundaries.

7. Productization of services

You cannot productize all your services at one time. It requires prioritization of the services that have the most impact. With your core competencies defined, you can decide on an effective order to guide your process. (We’ve written and in-depth article on the benefits of productizing your services, you can read that here: 12 Key Benefits of Service Package Productization for Growth )

How To Identify Core Competencies

As you start to see all the different ways your core competencies can help your business, it helps to outline how you can define these particular business features.

Since focus areas define what sets you apart, you need to look at everything involved in the business, from the people who work there to the goods and services you produce.

First, examine the goals and values you have as an organization. Next, compare your business to your competitors and determine what sets you apart from the crowd. Look for the areas where you offer buyers the most value.

You can then use the insights to define the factors that make your business valuable for your clients and identify who is most likely to want to employ your services.

Professional Services Core Competencies: Examples

As you outline your competencies, here are a few examples to help you understand how you might establish your unique features.

Effective partnerships

Effective partnerships can be one way of setting up your competencies. Professional services firms might collaborate with technology firms or other service providers to deliver these services. Firms like Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle, and others use these arrangements. These partnerships can create a competitive edge for some firms, allowing them to create a distinctive identity and reputation.

Distinctive company culture

Core competencies can also help to shape a unique firm culture within the organization. This type of culture is an asset, helping businesses attract excellent like-minded talent and building the business's reputation.

Outstanding customer experience

Comprehensive customer service engagement is an outstanding differentiator for marketing businesses. Firms that create an ideal experience will gain a competitive advantage. As clients grow in loyalty, they become more likely to relay positive reviews to other potential clients.

Exceptional architecture, design, and advisory services

Firms may also build their specific offerings by focusing on unique designs and high-value services, all of which will attract a particular group of buyers.

Efficient delivery at lower costs

Other businesses may focus on the cost-savings they can offer clients. Creative solutions to provide high-quality services and delivery while maintaining a cost advantage can attract new parties to a given professional services firm.

Innovative organizational design

An organizational model focusing on career flexibility, growth, and staff retention can also help retain clients. You will retain high-value, highly skilled staff who have established relationships with clients, thus also helping to build your client loyalty.

Specialization and thought leadership

By specializing in a specific niche, businesses can hone their skills in a particular area and build an enhanced reputation. Clients interested in that specific area will seek firms within their niche as they appreciate the firm's insight and understanding.

Finding untapped markets, like blue oceans undiscovered before you – as Le Cirque did for the circus – can present you with opportunities for unhindered growth.

Service productization

With service productization, you package different services, such as:

● Marketing assets

● Selling and sales processes

● Templates

● Delivery templates

● Tools

These packages can impact your profitability and success; firms that do this well create a substantial advantage over competitors by simplifying client purchases.

Leverage Your Account Growth Strategy With Core Competencies

With ALTA Identifying your core competencies as part of your growth strategy framework will position your business to stand out. Knowing where you excel and the value you offer can guide your niche market domination, help business growth, and can even boost valuations in your exit.


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