Not every company has a product to sell

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Service-led companies make up a significant chunk of the business world. But how does marketing and selling a service differ from selling a product?

Where there's a product, there's a clear selling advantage as there's a sensory experience on offer. Customers can see it. They can touch it, pick it up, examine it and experience it. They can bend it, shake it, twist it, smell it and try it out - or on.

Selling a service can be a challenge since you're selling something that doesn’t exist yet.

Without a physical 'thing' to put on display the business service industry has to take a different approach. Service companies have to actively demonstrate that they can do a great job. A product can speak for itself but a service needs someone to speak for it.

If that's you, here's what you can do:

  • Look good, first impressions count. You represent your service. If you're a sole trader you are your service. Reassure your potential clients by looking neat, tidy and professional. Look sloppy and that's what people will think your service will be like.

  • Offer a free trial. Allowing people to test your service free of charge and without obligation. It shows that you are genuine, have nothing to hide and are committed to working hard for their custom. Demonstrating your service means you can engage with your potential customers and build up a rapport with them.

  • Use customer testimonials. If you have received great feedback from your customers, use it. Include testimonials in your marketing pack, on flyers and in your advertisements. Endorsement of your service in this way is extremely valuable. It speaks volumes about your company and makes you all the more attractive to others.

  • Give exceptional customer service. Customers make the world go around so you need to be attentive to their needs. Remember, you are nothing without your customers. Treat each and every one of them with respect. Be polite, be courteous, smile and be friendly. Provide a service guarantee.

  • Do a great job. Doing your job might be easy. Doing a truly great job requires a bit more effort. Impress your customers with your skill and expertise, go the extra and add a polish and a shine to your service every time. Your customers will appreciate it and it'll keep your competitors at bay.

  • Communicate. Follow up. Don't forget about your customers when you've finished the job and your invoice has been paid. Send them a thank you note, a discount voucher for next time or news of other services you offer. Ask for their feedback so you can improve your service as well as add their testimonial to your marketing portfolio.

Tell us what your service is – and how you go about selling it.