HARDISON’S TIPS – OCTOBER 20, 2020 – SELLING YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE TO A SMALL BUSINESS (PT.2)
Know your buyers
Buyer personas—profiles of your ideal buyers—are particularly important in service selling because they provide insights into the demographics, priorities, concerns, and decision factors common to your potential customers.
Because you are selling value—not a product they can touch or immediately experience—you need to know what your potential buyers find most important when seeking the types of services you provide. These are the outcomes produced by your services and can take different forms.
For example, what goals do your web design services help a small business owner achieve? Does it make their small online shop look like its bigger competitors? Does it increase visitors and sales? Knowing buyers’ common goals helps you ask the right questions during the sales process to find what’s important—and what’s not.
Sometimes value is less tangible. What feelings do your interior design services evoke in a middle-aged couple? Is that new mid-century living room intended to impress their in-laws? Or is it something more practical like having fewer soft surfaces to clean? Either way, knowing the types of things (or feelings) your buyers value will help you focus your sales.
Always be helping
Sales doesn’t have the best reputation. In fact, only 18% of salespeople are seen as “trusted advisors” by customers. Even more alarming, HubSpot found that salespeople are only slightly more trustworthy than politicians. Oof.
So how does a salesperson gain trust when the deck is stacked against them, particularly when selling an intangible?
By putting the needs of the buyer first with an “always be helping” philosophy.
This is a 180-degree shift from the traditional mindset of closing anyone and everyone no matter if it’s a good fit or not. Always be helping pairs well with selling services because the salesperson becomes the trusted advisor that so many customers otherwise find lacking. Here are some ways you can always be helping:
- Determine how (and if) you can help the buyer
- Uncover the problems, pain points, or challenges you can solve for them
- Set clear expectations
- Provide value in all of your emails and calls
- Do what you say you are going to do every time
- Be transparent in every interaction; don’t hide anything
- Share your expertise during the sales process
My wife and I recently had our house painted, and we chose one company above the others because the owner was the poster guy for “always be helping.” When we met, he asked a few questions about our needs, experience with painters, and so on. Then he walked us around the house, pointing out details the other companies missed—and we didn’t know to mention. Things like “we’ll put an extra coat on this wall because it gets the most sun,” or “this gutter is corroding, so we’ll treat it before we paint.”
The best part: he was writing it down as we walked. These details were reflected in his proposal, which also gave us confidence that he was meticulous and could be the trusted advisor we were looking for.
Developing and Using Social Proof
In his bestselling book on influence, Robert Cialdini explains that people—in order to determine what is correct—look to what other people think is correct. He coined this “social proof.” We see evidence of social proof all around us—from positive online restaurant reviews to a long line of people waiting to get into a nightclub.
Social proof for service businesses takes on a number of forms: online reviews, testimonials, case studies, and references. And this proof is vitally important for service providers because there is no product to “try” or “test” beforehand. All you have are the results and impressions from your customers.