Why is selling a service so different from selling a product? In some ways, the principles should be the same.
But there are some differences between a product and a service, requiring different sales techniques.

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How to sell a service

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Is it different from selling a product? YES!

Why is selling a service so different from selling a product? In some ways, the principles should be the same. The objective is to get the prospect to agree that the way to solve their problem is to use your product or service.

But there are some differences between a product and a service (apart from being able to drop a product on the prospect's foot!), which require different sales techniques:

  • The element of trust: It's never possible to know exactly what will be received until the service has been given
  • The sales person as part of the service: The product sales person can never be part of his or her product. The product has its own dimensions and specifications which are self contained and unique. But a sales person selling a service is often part of the 'package' - especially if it is you, selling your own service.
  • A service can't be stored: You can't make it in advance and stock it for selling later. And each time you deliver a service, it's going to be slightly different.

So, how can you make the process of selling a service that much more effective. Here's a few quick ideas for you to experiment with, adapt and adopt:

  1. Use credentials and testimonials: These can be concrete evidence that your service has worked for other people. And if your existing satisfied customers don't volunteer testimonials, ask for them. You'll seldom get a refusal.


  2. Don't be vague about your service: A service is by nature a series of promises until the benefits have been delivered. So make your promises as concrete as possible. Paint a 'Word Picture' . Sell both 'Promise and Proof'. (There are articles on each of these in the Archive). Be very, very clear about what you are offering.


  3. Give free samples: If you like, this Web Site offers free samples in the form of advice, which are useful enough to convince some people (you, hopefully!) that our consultancy is worth hiring. But be careful not to give too much away, or you'll have nothing to sell. Most of the advice on this site can be made much more effective by using our consultancy to guide your business through the process of improving its selling and marketing. End of sales plug!


  4. Make your service different: Product manufacturers try to make their products different from their competitors. It's even more important to show how your service offers something different. And make sure that the differences are ones which are important to the prospect. Read the Archive article on 'Selling Benefits'.

  5. Don't sell your time: If you are selling a time-based service, try not to sell it on the basis of so many hours worked. Sell it on so much per solution or project. This way, you remove the fear barrier that you might be trying to spin the project out. And you'll be offering a firm outcome for a fixed price. Sure, that's not always possible, but try to make this type of offer to new prospects. Existing customers may trust you enough to buy on a time-based proposal.


  6. Think of your service as a product: This may seem a contradiction, after saying that a service is different in important ways. But many of the solid sales principles apply equally to a service as to a product. When you are reading about sales and marketing methods which seem to apply more to a product, try to adapt them to selling your service. Often, they will work equally well.

So.. those are just a few brief pointers. We'd welcome any other ideas that you might have.


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