Best Practices for Selling a Service

By Eric Taussig | Updated: 23 Jul, 2014

One of the biggest challenges of selling a service is that services can’t be mass-produced in the way that products are. Services are typically tailored to meet the needs of a particular customer. Additionally, because services are dependent on time and your time is limited, there’s a limit to the amount of services you can ultimately sell.

Below are five best practices to use to overcome some of the challenges associated with selling a service.

1. Sell yourself – Services depend on people in a way that products don’t. When purchasing a service, a customer is getting the skills and competence of the person providing that service. When selling a service, you and your team are the product. You are selling your time, with the promise of a particular result. So don’t just sell a generic service, sell yourself as the provider of that service by highlighting the experience and expertise of your team.

2. Productize your service – Services are intangible--you can't see them, touch them or demonstrate them. The key is to make your service more like a product by literally turning your service into a product, offering packages of different service levels or packaging your process for delivering that service. This helps to outline the total value that you offer your customers, while differentiating you from the competition.

3. Market your customers – The best way to market services is by marketing your satisfied clients, through the use of case studies and customer testimonials. This can be a challenge for some businesses if your clients don’t want to publicize the fact that they use your services as it may highlight the problems that they are having within their organization.

A way to combat this issue is by developing customer personas that give a detailed description of who your customers are, without divulging their name. It’s also important to highlight the importance of privacy in your pitch, convincing the prospect that they would get the same level of discretion should they become your customer.

4. Maintain a year-round marketing program – The sales process often takes longer for service-based businesses than for product-based organizations. Therefore, it’s important to maintain a well-stocked pipeline of prospects to lean on should any of your deals fall through.

5. Focus on relationships – Services are more difficult to price than products. The only way to define the quality of a service is whether the customer is satisfied with the service they are getting at that price. Maintaining quality relationships with your customers is the best way to make that determination. Be sure to regularly ask your customers “How am I doing?” and really listen to their answers, making adjustments when needed.