Have you ever struggled to explain an abstract idea to a friend or family before? Remember how you stuttered over words, just trying to find the perfect words to convey your idea in a way that the other person can make meaning of it? Unfortunately, that's a huge responsibility on you when you sell services.
Unlike selling a product, selling services can be a little complicated because it involves convincing people to buy intangibles. Remember the maxim, "Seeing is believing"? Being unable to see the item is what puts you off from making a purchase unless you need the specific service badly.
In this article, we will explore how to sell services, whether offline or online. We will also highlight a few places where you can sell your services online.
What Goes Into Selling Services?
All over the world, small businesses solve problems and meet needs daily, and they do this through their product or service offerings.
Characteristically, when you are in business, you are either a product-based or a service-based business. Usually, this is one decision business owners get to make first — every other thing follows. This decision will dictate a few other things, such as the kind of people you will hire and the marketing communication approach you will adopt.
Selling services is different from selling products - selling products deals with physical and concrete objects, services while selling services deals with selling your skills, expertise, and time — things you can not see, touch, or hold.
Some types of service-based businesses include:
- Creative services — web and graphic designers, writers, fashion designers
- Professional services — medical doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, teachers
- Personal care — hairstylists, barbers, massage therapists, beauty therapists, and so on
In some cases selling services doesn't involve as much startup and operating cost as selling products does. These days, you sometimes don't even need a physical office for some of these things, as most consultations or service delivery can be done online. For example, as a web designer, you can carry out all of your transactions with your client over the internet.
In summary, selling services is a lucrative business. However, the main challenge has to do with communicating what you do to your customers convincingly — causing them to buy. The abstract nature of service-based businesses sometimes makes it difficult to convince people about the result you can help them get. But after all, it's not an impossible task.
The tips and strategies highlighted below can help you become better at communicating and selling what you do.
7 Strategies to Bolster Selling Services
The following strategies will help you become more effective at selling your services:
Know Your Prospect Very Well
Just like in every relationship, it is required that you know the other person you are dealing with. What you know about them will form the basis for further interaction. Similarly, when selling your services, you need to know the demographic — statistical details such as age, gender, income — and psychographic — intangible details like values, philosophies, etc. — details of your customers. This information can be used to create a customer persona — a representation of your entire target customers. This information is vital when crafting your value proposition, deciding on pricing, and composing your marketing message.
To get more details about your prospective customers, you can conduct offline/online surveys, carry out market research, and make discovery calls.
Educate Your Audience
Focus on producing educational materials as against promotional materials. This is usually against the traditional way of marketing, which is largely promotional. However, because what you are selling is intangible, your customers need to clearly understand the value you offer, how you intend to meet their needs or solve their problems, and so on. As you do this, you are building trust and positioning yourself as an authority. Some channels you can use for this are your social media handles, email newsletters, blog posts, videos, and ebooks.
Have a Persuasive and Compelling Pitch/Proposal
At the heart of an effective sales process is the ability to craft a compelling message — one that holds your audience spellbound. To do so, use the information you gathered from your market research, surveys, or discovery calls to create a proposal, highlighting the customer's problems and how your service can meet customer needs. Then, add testimonials and create a sense of urgency by adding a deadline. Note that some of these ideas may not apply to every industry, but where it does, ensure you use them.
Prospective customers always have 101 reasons why they don't want to buy, so-called objections. When trying to sell your services, anticipate objections to your offer and ensure you answer them while making your pitch. At the end of your presentation, ask them if they still have other concerns and show willingness to answer them. In the case of an advert or commercial, leave a telephone number or email where people can direct their inquiries.
Since you are selling intangibles, you need to communicate the outcome/result your services will deliver to your customers. Your customers don't care about what services you offer as much as they do about what outcome your service will deliver to them. Is it a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction or pain you are eradicating? Ensure that this is well communicated. If this is achieved, customers will take a liking to your service, and your selling prospects won't be bleak anymore. For example, suppose you are a copywriter having a sales conversation with a prospective client. Talk about how your sales copy can help your client convert those who visit their landing pages to buyers rather than focus on the length of words of the sales copy or how you will come up with it.
Use Social Proof
Customers often rely on social proofs when making a decision to buy or not to. For example, many people decide whether to download an app on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store based on how high or low other people rate the app from their experience. Therefore, including social proof in your marketing strategy can go a long way to convince potential customers about your credibility and customer experience. This is like an indirect referral process. Social proof can come in various forms — case studies, testimonials, online ratings and reviews, etc.
When you must have implemented your promotions and advertising campaigns and got some leads — prospective buyers — it is necessary to follow up on those who didn't end up doing business with you the first time. Of course, people have different reasons for not making the purchase immediately or were impacted by factors that slow down the decision-making process. However, it doesn't always mean they are uninterested. On the contrary, the chances are that with some more information and persuasion, they may convert along the line. So develop a foolproof system to nurture and warm up this segment of your target audience to get them to convert. Running retargeting ads is one such way, as well as sending follow-up email newsletters.
Where to Sell Your Services Online
You can either sell your services in a physical store or online. Below are a few service industries and some online markets where service providers can connect with customers.
- Beauty, fitness, and wellness: — If you are a hairstylist, barber, or massage therapist, the following apps can help customers discover you more easily — Booksy, StyleSeat, Soothe.
- Business Coaching: ClarityFm helps connect entrepreneurs with business coaches in whatever niche. Also, as a coach, you can set up your courses and webinar on Teachable, Kajabi, or Thinkific.
- Freelancing: Freelancers in all kinds of fields can sell their services online on Fiverr, Freelancer, Upwork, or PeoplePerHour.
- Home Maintenance and Repair: Experienced handymen, painters, or plumbers can sell their services on Handy, HomeAdvisor, MeetACarpenter, or YourMechanic.
- Teachers: Educators can connect with students on TeachersPayTeachers, Udemy, or Wyzant.
- Virtual Assistants: You can get hired as a virtual assistant on FancyHands or Magic.
There are various dedicated online marketplaces for almost any niche or industry you belong to — you only need to do a Google search to find a suitable one to market your services. For more professional services, LinkedIn is a good place to be.
Manage Your Business Finances With Skynova
As you seek to master how to sell your services — and hopefully make more sales — you need to also master the financial side of your business. Ultimately, how efficient you are with your finances is what will keep you in business.
But you do not need to add bookkeeping worries to all you have on your plate already, which is why you need Skynova.
Skynova accounting software can take care of all your business finance recordkeeping, invoicing, tax record management, and financial statements while you focus on running your business.
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Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is meant to be used as general guidelines and may not apply to your specific situation. Always consult with a professional Sales Consultant to ensure you're making the right moves about selling your services.