How to Sell Your Service
How to sell your service is the killer question for all thought leaders, business experts and service providers. In this post we share 13 sneak easy ways that are sitting right under your nose.
We’ve all been to the supermarket and been confronted by those beautifully smelling product samples. And, I’ll bet you’ve been tempted once or twice… I know Homer Simpson has!
Alternatively, if you’re looking to paint your bedroom, what do you do? You head on down the to paint store and either pick up some colour swatches or if you’re really keen, a small sample pot to test out what’s going to work for you.
Selling products through a bite-size taste or sample is a common practice. You can read the expanded blog post below or listen to the shorter Ideas Architect Podcast episode where we share 13 ways you can use samples to sell your services. (podcast link at bottom of post)
[Updated and Expanded – November 2021]
How to Sell Your Service with Samples
The usual way we think of selling our services is to set up a meeting with potential clients to discuss what you can do for them.
That can and has worked for centuries. But if direct selling in this way doesn’t appeal or you want to expand the number of people you can sell to at any time, then there are some other ways.
The key principle to sell your service further and wider is the sample.
Here are some other ways that you’ve probably seen products and services sold through samples:
- Car dealers let you take a car for a test drive.
- Software makers let you download a free version – possibly with limited features, for a limited time or with the makers branding on it.
- Shampoo or laundry detergent is often attached to magazines in a small sachet.
Can I Sample Your Service?
Often you can’t miss them. They’re parked right in front of where you want to go. And, it’s more than likely they smell really really good. I’m talking about the supermarket and the classic marketing strategy of giving away bite-sized product samples to entice you to buy a featured item.
As a service provider, it’s even more important to give people a way to experience you before they dive into a full-service option. It takes away a lot of the uncertainty and risk about buying from you. Here are 13 examples of how you might provide a sample of your service.
Do you want to sell your service and make money even when people say ‘no’? You can do this by creating products. Products are service samples. By writing a book you let someone know about your thinking. This is a traditional way to position your expertise and sell a keynote presentation. And, a $30 book is the perfect way to sample someone before you commission them for a $3000 or $30,000 project.
- A book
- An information package like a checklist, short ebook
- An online course
- A video or podcast
2 Intro Session
If you run a coaching service you might offer a 30-minute or one-hour introductory session for a potential client to see if you’d both like to work with each other. This is quite a literal sample – you’re telling people that this is an introduction to a bigger package. Often books are sold in this way – here’s the first chapter and if you like what you read, then you can buy the whole thing. Plus, if it’s a live session they will have direct experience of working with you without having to commit to the long-term. This minimises their risk and makes it more likely they will agree to a first session.
If you run a consulting service consider offering a public workshop to give people a taste of what you offer. A workshop is a general service – with a room full of people you can offer snippets of personalised service but you can’t work in detail with each person.
I approach my videos on YouTube in the same way. There are two pieces here: there is no live audience to interact with and the video is only 10-15 minutes in length. It simply can’t be the whole story. But I can provide general principles that you can apply for yourself.
A live workshop is similar with interaction – but you can also only cover so many details in a half-day or even a full-day event. It’s simply not the same as sitting down with you one-on-one for a private session.
4 Needs Analysis
Do you start your client work with a needs analysis or diagnosis? Doctors definitely do. You can’t prescribe a solution until you know what the problem is. Consider, separating this from your overall service and package it either as a stand-alone smaller service or as a DIY online tool. This could be a free or a paid service. There are two different ways to do this:
- The diagnosis – like a doctor, discover the real problem your client is dealing with and then offer a solution.
- The vision – create a future that the client wants to work toward. I find my coaching clients either come to me because they don’t know what they want (help them get clear on this) or they know what they want and don’t know how to get there (devise a strategy for them).
5 Le Tour De France
Le Tour De France is telecast around the world to millions of people. This is a way to sample the real thing. You get the pictures and not the full atmosphere. The TV coverage is such a powerful method that it inspires millions to travel to France to experience the real thing. Other countries and events have copied this approach. The Tour Down Under is the Australian cycling equivalent and is sponsored by the South Australian government because it such a great tourist promotion.
Likewise, TV chefs do this by sharing their recipes in their books, on their websites and on TV. This sets up the motivation to want to eat in their restaurant. In effect, it positions the physical experience of eating their food as their premium service. I spoke about this in the post Share What You Know About Business Success.
Record yourself in action and offer this as an entry-level product or as free content on your website. It will help position working with you as a premium offer and you can charge accordingly.
6 Single Ticket
If you run an extended program consider how you can shorten it or offer a single part as a sample. For instance, instead of buying a full season ticket to every game your favourite sports team plays, allow a single pass or a 3 game pass. It lets the buyer try it out without breaking the bank. As a coach, you might offer a one-off project planning session as a stand-alone service or as the first of a 10 session project support package.
Another example of this is when Apple changed the nature of the music industry when they launched iTunes as a marketplace for buying music. Prior to this, record labels primarily sold albums or a collection of songs. But Apple made it easy to buy a single song. Review your service offerings and consider whether it is worth selling individual items rather than only a full set.
One approach to sell your service using samples is to think about the level of access someone has with you. For instance, your premium service is likely to be one-on-one in a private session. In contrast, your entry level service sample could be a networking event where people can meet you in person but they have to share your attention with all of the other people in the room.
Remember when someone buys a service they buy the experience of being with you. If they like you as a person, then you can talk business. The other advantage of a networking event is that you will be seen in the company you keep. If you have a quality network or show up as a quality person in this arena, then this could work for you.
If you can’t meet in person, then meet online. This could be as a webinar. But note, compared to the free-flowing nature of a networking event, a webinar is likely to be more structured. Your interactions with your audience will be around live Q&A or through the type-written chat box.
The big advantages of a webinar are:
- You can show the interactions you want because you have your hands on the controls. For instance, how you let people ask questions.
- It’s a great format for showcasing your expertise through a presentation.
- Webinars are effectively free to run once you’ve paid for your service eg Zoom.
- They are a great way to reach a widespread audience. I have clients mostly spread across Australia and New Zealand. An online zoom call or webinar is a great way to bring this audience together in a single time and place.
Webinars are a way to share your expertise at low cost. This is a great opportunity to share some of your expertise and then make an offer to buy at the end.
Whether you like it or not your website is a sample of your service. It creates an immediate impression for the viewer and sets an expectation of what it might be like to work with this person. Is it simple and clear or is it complex and chaotic? Is it up to date or looks like you’re behind the times?
One way to think of your customers is ask yourself, ‘what experience are they having?’ In this way you can consider every touchpoint with you and your business as a sample, a snippet or a snapshot of what it might be like to buy your service and work with you.
10 Social Media and Content Marketing
Like your website, whenever you share content on your blog or on social media this is an easy way for people to sample you in action. In particular, a good video will give the viewer a feel for how you are in person. And, a series of tweets may be your chance to express your sense of humour.
The key here is to ask your clients or colleagues, ‘how do I come across in my social media and content?’ I was super pleased this week when a colleague said she loved my videos on YouTube and that I came across as ‘authentic and knowledgable’. They were two perfect words for me. And if she can see that in my video presentations then it’s likely she’ll expect that if I were to work with her.
While running a networking event might give you a way for people to meet you socially, running a mastermind group would give them an experience of how you think and interact with people. Typically, a mastermind group is a group of like-minded people who meet regularly to support each other. One person is the host or facilitator and a safe space for business conversations is created for people to share openly what is working and not working for them. Plus, running a mastermind group could be a great entry-level service in its own right that could earn you a regular income. It’s perfect for a coach or consultant and may lead to one-to-one projects.
Professional speakers typically have a ‘speakers kit’ available to be downloaded on their website. Essentially, this is a set package of information about the service they provide. It’s designed to give the potential client a concise snapshot of who they are, what they present about and how they go about their business. In particular, it’s intended to be downloaded and shared with one or more decision-makers. Consider creating a sales kit for your service.
Some things to include in your sales kit:
- Details about how you work including the steps you go through
- Testimonials and case studies from previous clients
- The cost of the potential client in terms of dollars paid, the time needed to make it work and any equipment you may require
- Promotional material if you are partnering on an event or presentation, eg some professional photos of you in action
- Bonus – provide something relevant that adds value to the process and makes it easier. For instance, speakers often include a checklist for what they need for their presentation. If you can add value at this stage of the sales process it will help set the tone for how you will work with them when they pay for your services.
13 Give away the Recipe
Most services are in the format of ‘do it for me’ – for instance, a web designer creating a website for you.
One alternative to this is to create a DIY – do it yourself program. For instance, a web designer might lay out all of the steps they take to design a great website. For some people, this will be the perfect plan to follow. And for others, it will simply confirm this is too hard to do by themselves and employ you to do it for them.
Chefs give away their recipes on their websites, in books and on TV but people still want to turn up to their restaurants and eat the real thing. I spoke about this in the video, Content Strategy – The daring way TV chefs thrill their customers.
Consider a DIY version to complement your Do-it-for-them service. It won’t be for everyone and it will reinforce the value of what you provide when you deliver your premium service.
Bonus: Remember the Reversal
The reverse also applies if you want to sample someone else. For example, if you’re considering employing someone full-time or for a big project, start them off with a smaller project to see how they perform. If you don’t see it being offered, ask for a sample of some sort.
Summary: How to sell your service
What’s the common principle here? If you want to sell your service with samples look to create a smaller version of your bigger package. Then offer it for free or for a lower price to let people sample you with reduced risk. Remember, your goal is to offer great value to your potential customers, simply less than you would for a full service.
I’d love to hear of other ways that you have provided a sample of your service. Add a comment below.
More: How to sell your service
Here are some more resources around this topic to help you sell your service more easily to more people.
- Content Strategy – The daring way TV chefs thrill their customers. – why giving away your best ideas can be good for business
- Thought Leadership Marketing – three marketing strategies to best position yourself as a thought leader
- Thought Leadership Strategy and your Hyper Focus