Selling services is quite different from selling products, even though some marketers might disagree with me. Therefore, it is important to develop a strong and unique service selling strategy.
Top 3 Strategies for Selling Services:
#1 Strategy: Focus your service business on a specific segment of customer (for example, the real estate market, doctors, banks, specific industries, etc.). Marketing professional services to a specific customer group must focus on why the customer needs those services and how outsourcing services fulfills the customers needs.
For example, if you are a graphic designer and you target residential property developers as your clients, you need to develop a strategy and approach that communicates why the developer should select you to design his/her project campaign and how your specific services will help sell the project. Focus on what you deliver. Prepare a budget for total cost (not hourly costs); or break your budget down into specific categories, such as advertising – television, newspapers and magazines; signage; and promotional brochures and direct mailing.
#2 Strategy: Focus your service business on what you, and your business, can deliver. Your customers are buying your skills, your experience, your training and education – in effect, they are buying what you are capable of delivering. Often they are also buying your reputation and credibility: service selling is about building strong relationships. Customers who buy financial, legal, medical, business services need to trust in that relationship. It is challenging to convince customers to switch from another service provide to you without first building a trust relationship.
If you have staff that are delivering services for your company, your customers are buying the services of your staff. Be careful that you treat your staff well – if they leave, often the customers that they have been working with will also leave.
#3 Strategy: Focus on pricing your services on a project basis (if possible). Pricing by the hour or showing the cost on a per hour basis often leaves the customer wondering about wasted time or excess billed time. So, when you prepare quotes for your services show the price as an all inclusive price. For example, for legal services for the incorporation of small businesses, quote a flat fee. If you are concerned that you will need to provide extra services at no charge, make sure that you detail what service you provide for that price. And show what the extras might cost as additional notes on the price quote. Most service businesses believe they need to bill for every hour (or quarter hour) spent; but the reality is that if the business builds its price structure correctly than hourly charges can be incorporated into a flat fee structure.
Selling service is like selling a product in one key way: satisfied customers will mean return business and often will mean increased business through referrals. Service businesses are difficult to sell because they’re typically owner-dependent, with little in the way of capital equipment (like manufacturers have).
It is more difficult to ‘prove’ the value of the service you provide because service, by its very nature, is intangible, whereas a product is tangible. When you develop your marketing plan and selling strategy, you need to focus on referrals, on satisfied customers, on samples of your work whatever is most appropriate in your business. You want to, and need to, communicate the quality of your service.
Recognize that selling service in a business-to-business environment is generally a longer cycle than selling products and therefore your selling strategy needs to focus on a strong marketing program. Customers will need more information, more points of contact, and more time to make their buying decision. Selling service in a consumer environment is typically a short cycle (for example, hair styling and cutting). Be consistent with your selling strategy, focus your efforts on strong and relevant business ideas that support the service you are selling. Do the follow-up. Make another contact. Build a communications cycle for your service that makes sense.
Finally, because your success is so dependent on your relationship with your customer and on your ability to satisfy expectations, you need to survey your customers on a regular basis and ensure that they are satisfied with the service you provide.