Selling Services – It’s Still About Relationships

Selling services is inherently more difficult than products because your client cannot ‘touch and feel’ what you are delivering. Unfortunately, this leads many businesses and sales people to promote themselves and their features and forget about the most important individual in the transaction – the customer.

Like in all selling, people buy services from businesses and individuals they know, like and trust. It’s still about relationships. So for any business that sells services, building relationships is critical to their success.

To do this there are a few things that businesses and sales people need to keep in mind.

  1. Firstly, it’s not about you. It’s about the customer and what you, your company and your service can do for them. Take a walk in the customer’s shoes to understand what issues they are facing and what your service can do to ease the pain or create/improve opportunities.
  2. Understand what your customers need and what they think they want. If you try to sell people what you think they need, you will almost always fail. If you find out what they want and package it with what they need, you will almost always succeed. Giving customers what they want is an important part of developing your relationship, but knowing what they need and packaging that with what they want will make you a trusted advisor and more than just a salesperson.
  3. Know your competition. “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster”…Sun Tsu. It is essential you know and understand your current and potential competition. What would you do in their position to win business from you? Ask the same questions about them as your customers and prospects ask of you and compare the answers. It’s a good way to identify your strengths and weaknesses and discover areas of opportunity in new markets or service offerings.
  4. Build a bank of references
    In today’s world of social media, people are going to be talking about you, your company and your service whether you like it or not. Taking control of this in a positive manner will help you build relationships that will provide positive returns. As mentioned above, people buy from those they know, like and trust. But while they might know and like you, how do they develop trust?

Testimonials and references are the most powerful means of overcoming any doubt in prospects’ minds about using you to provide the service they need. Ask you existing customers to provide quotes about their experiences with your company and what you deliver. While these will not be the silver bullet to close sales, they go a long way to helping build a trusting relationship.

In general, services are more difficult for clients to evaluate than products. Defining the quality of service delivery is very difficult so ultimately it comes down to the relationship your company develops with the target market and the salesperson with the customer. And remember…
“The most valuable resource you can give customers is your time. Listen to them to uncover their real needs. Only then can you find a way to solve their problems or meet their expectations. Treat the cause, not just the symptoms.” Ginger Conlon, Think Customers