by Leigh Wallinger.
It is widely accepted that selling services is generally more difficult than selling products. With a service, there is nothing for the prospect to see or touch to give reassurance that it will do what the seller claims.
Your prospects don’t believe any of the claims you make about your services until one of your existing clients confirms, either directly or indirectly, that those claims are accurate. In many ways, your existing clients represent a more potent sales team than you could ever employ. Only a few service providers make sufficient use of their existing clients when chasing prospects. The rest are missing out.
Your second problem when selling services is this. It can be difficult to demonstrate to prospects exactly what they are buying. The best you can do is to find an existing client whose requirements are similar to your prospect’s and show how the client benefitted. For big-ticket sales, you could arrange for your prospect to visit the client to “see” your service in action.
Selling is so much easier with a physical product. Your prospects can look at it and handle it. It’s clear what they will be buying.
Reflect on the steps involved in demonstrating and selling a product (for example, a laser printer) and those relating to a service (for example, month-end accounting services). Most people would agree that selling the laser printer is easier. Let’s look at things from the buyer’s perspective.
As a buyer of services, you would hear (and read) about the seller’s service and all the benefits the seller claims would arise following your purchase. You probably wouldn’t commit to buy the service without verifying these claims were accurate. You would research the experiences of previous purchasers before making your own decision.
However much research you do, buying services boils down to you trusting the seller’s description of their service and their promises of how you will gain from your purchase. If you were buying these services on behalf of your company, you probably have these four key questions in mind:
1. How well will the services mesh in with our existing operations?
2. How well will the services meet our business requirements?
3. How disruptive will the transition period be?
4. What will happen if these new services fail to deliver the expected results?
When you are selling services, keep these questions in mind as your prospects often won’t ask them explicitly. They remain under the surface and the answers you give in response to their other questions all contribute to the buyer’s judgement regarding these four unasked questions.
If you sell a product, the process of answering these four questions is much simpler. The product can be seen, measured, demonstrated, handled and, if appropriate, operated on a trial basis. In the earlier example of selling a laser printer, potential buyers can easily obtain the answers they need and confidence in the proposed purchase would rise.
Services don’t lend themselves to being seen, measured, demonstrated, handled or trialled. The best you could do if selling a service is to highlight the experiences that your other clients have enjoyed and the benefits they have gained from using your services.
Your existing clients provide the most persuasive case for buying your services. Their descriptions of how good your services have been for them will be hard for prospects to ignore.
It is your job to explain how clients that were once in the same situation as your prospect have gained by using your services. Then you must find ways for your clients to validate these claims by describing how their situations have been improved by your services.
This can be done directly, with prospects and clients engaging with each other, or indirectly through a series of “success stories” you produce in conjunction with your clients.
Success stories are usually produced in printed or pdf format and, once written, can be used in many ways for little cost. The best success stories are those which contain client quotes throughout.
To succeed in selling your services you need to:
1. Be trusted by your prospects and clients alike
2. Use success stories to show how others benefit from your services
3. Minimise presentations where you tell people how good your services are
4. Provide answers to the 4 key questions above
5. Incentivise your clients to give you referrals
Leigh Wallinger knows the problems that every small business owner encounters when trying to establish and grow a small business. After 30+ years’ experience he now helps small business owners to grow their businesses. Contact him by email (enquiries at salesmadeeasy.co.uk) or via www.salesmadeeasy.co.uk
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