Sell your services by not selling your services

Selling your services is vastly different from selling a product. First, you must build a basic level of trust with your prospective client. After all, services are intangible. Your customers can’t see what they are buying before you deliver it.

Then, you must present your offering in a way that encourages people to pay your price. Differentiating yourself from other service providers discourages price haggling. You must also understand who you are serving. Not all clients will find you appealing, and that is okay.

But what happens when even being different isn’t selling your services? How do you overcome objections when even your ideal clients keep saying no.

In order to sell your services, you need to stop selling your services.

Whatcha talkin’ ’bout?

What are you saying to prospective clients? If you are like most service providers, you probably spend at least part of the discovery call talking about how you deliver your service. I caught myself doing this today. Less than five minutes into a conversation with a prospective client, and I started talking about QuickBooks Online and Hubdoc.

Guess what? The prospect didn’t care.

Your prospects don’t care how you do your work. We may think the latest technology in our industry is nifty, but most customers don’t know one industry-specific software from another. When was the last time you asked a sales clerk what point of sale system they are using? Okay, admittedly, I asked a couple of months ago, but it was because I noticed a quirk on the receipt that I recognized from my retail days. For the most part, I don’t care what POS system my favorite stores use. I want my product and a smile from the sales associate helping me.

Aha! I want my product and a smile! That means my prospects want to know about my deliverables, right? So I’ll tell them about the reports I will produce for them and how often we will meet to discuss them.

Yeah, no.

Your prospects don’t care about deliverables, either. Now, granted, if you are designing websites or marketing collateral, the deliverables matter a little more than they do in accounting. But any service provider will produce some sort of deliverable. Talking about your deliverables is not enough to make the sale.

So, if your prospects don’t care about how you deliver your service, and they will expect the same deliverables regardless of whether they work with you or another service provider, how do you sell your services? How do you differentiate yourself from all the other people selling the same services as you?

Stop selling your services…

Why do you go to your doctor? Probably because you are sick, or because it is time for your annual checkup. You know your doctor will do certain things – check your blood pressure, order bloodwork, maybe prescribe a medication – but you’re not going to your doctor for these processes or deliverables. You go to your doctor for health.

Why do you hire a lawyer? Probably because you are in legal trouble or you want to avoid legal trouble. You know your attorney will do some research, maybe write a letter, or if it comes to it, they will represent you in court. Actually, of those three tasks, your attorney will most likely hand off the first two to a paralegal or legal assistant…and you don’t care that the lawyer himself isn’t the one doing the work. You aren’t hiring a lawyer for the research or the letter or even the court appearance. You hire a lawyer for your legal protection.

“Focus on your clients’ pain point,” is advice commonly provided to service providers. This comes close to answering the question of how to sell your services. But most of us only halfheartedly heed this advice. We may have the solving the pain point part down, but then we immediately revert to talking about how we do it again. But look again at why we go to the doctor or hire an attorney.

…and start selling results.

We hire professionals for the results they provide us.

In order to be successful selling your services, you absolutely must stop selling your services. Instead, you must start selling the results your clients seek.

If you are a website designer, what results do your clients want? A nice web presence is part of it, but what they really want is increased sales due to that web presence. Stop selling the website design. Start selling increased revenue. The “how” is through increased sales, and sales increase due to the design of the website.

If you are an accountant or bookkeeper, what results do your clients want? That one kind of depends on your focus, but cash flow, profit retention, and decreased tax liability are usually high on the list. Stop selling accounting and bookkeeping services. Start selling increased business and personal wealth. The “how” is through business strategy, and the business strategy is developed using accounting principles and tax strategy.

Chances are, your prospects will never even get to the “how,” much less the how behind the how. Because they aren’t buying the “how.” They are buying the results.

Stop selling your services. Start selling results. This is how you sell your services.

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