7 Things You Need to Know About Selling Services

7 Things You Need to Know About Selling Services

Let’s start with a question.

Does your business provide a service, rather than a physical product?

If so, you probably understand the challenges of getting prospects to see the value in what you offer. After all, it’s not always easy to explain the features and benefits of something that the prospect can’t see, right?

Well, what I’m going to say might be a bit hard to believe.

Selling intangible products isn’t as difficult as you might think it is. No really, it isn’t! If you use the right methods, you can get your prospects to see the value in what you offer.

This post will help you sell more effectively if you have a service-based business. When you put these tips into action, you will notice that your prospects are far more open to becoming your clients.

What’s the Issue?

The reason selling intangible services can be tough is because you don’t have an actual product that the customer can see. You can’t really show them how it works. Its features and benefits aren’t as easy to see.

This means that you need to be able to paint a picture that can get the prospect to see how your service will benefit them. That’s not easy. It’s like trying to describe what an Ewok is to someone who’s never seen Star Wars. You might be explaining it the right way, but you can’t be sure that the other person knows what you’re talking about.

Yes, I did just use a Star Wars reference.

The key to selling services is to focus on demonstrating that you understand your prospect’s problems. You also need to demonstrate that you know how to solve them.

Tips for Selling Services

Be the Product

If you’re running a service-based business, YOU are the product. That means you need to sell yourself just as much as you’re selling your service. You have your own features and benefits, don’t you?

If you want prospects to become clients, you have to get them to view you as someone who is reliable and trustworthy. You need to get them to like you.

You probably already know this, but people buy from those they know, like, and trust. It’s important that you work hard to build a strong connection with your prospects.

Before trying to sell, you should develop a relationship first. Build some rapport. Let them get to know you. The better you are at building rapport, the more you will increase your chances of closing more deals.

Understand Your Prospect’s Needs

Because you are the product, you have to know how to position yourself the right way. This means getting your customer to see you as their resource. You need them to see that you’re the one who can solve their problems.

If you’re going to solve their problems, you have to demonstrate that you understand what their problems are. You have to ask effective questions that allow you to get to know them as well as you can.

The awesome thing about asking great questions is that it doesn’t just allow you to get to know your prospect, it also helps you form a better connection. As your prospect tells you about herself, she will start to trust you more. It’s because you’re taking a genuine interest in her needs and wants.

Focus On the Outcomes

In the end, your prospect doesn’t care about the service you offer. They care about how it’s going to help them. They care about what’s going to happen after they hire you. You need to focus on outcomes.

Convincing your prospect to become a client means showing what life will be like after they start using your services. You have to get them to see how much easier things will be when you’re working for them.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you’re a leadership consultant. You help companies make their leaders more effective. If you’re looking to gain your prospect’s business, you’re not going to spend a lot of time talking about the things you’re going to do. You’re going to talk about how much more efficient their teams are going to be. You’re going to talk about how much they will increase their revenue as a result.

That’s what your prospects need to know.

Focus On Feelings

Feelings are important. Why? Because emotion is what fuels most of our decision making. It’s true. We tend to make our decisions based on how we feel.

According to sales expert Jeffery Gitomer,

“The head is attached to the price, the heart is attached to the wallet. If you jerk on the heartstrings, the wallet comes popping out of the back pocket.”

If you can appeal to the emotions of your prospect, you will win the sale. This goes for any type of influence. In order to get people to take action, you have to get them to feel something.

Of course, in order to appeal to their emotions, you need to know what they want to feel. You need to know what they are passionate about. And you need to bring it up in the conversation.

You also need to know how to make your prospect feel comfortable, They want to feel safe with the idea of doing business with you. When they feel a sense of security, it will make them feel better about becoming your client.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t appeal to logic. You still need to give logical reasons for why your service is right for your prospect.

Lastly, you can’t be afraid to show emotion yourself. No, I’m not saying you have to give a long passionate speech with a John Williams musical score behind you.

I’m just saying that it’s a good idea to show your prospects that you’re passionate about what you do. They need to know how much you love helping people like them. This type of emotion is what people can connect to.

Use Social Proof

Since you’re selling something that can’t be seen or touched, you need to find other ways to get your prospect to see the value in your offering. You must prove to them that you are worth the investment.

You need social proof.

In his book, “Influence: Science and Practice,” Robert Cialdini discusses the fact that people are more likely to take a particular action if they know that a lot of other people have taken it as well. If you can show your prospect that others have used your services and gained a benefit because of it, you will greatly increase your chances of earning their business.

There are a couple ways you can do this.

Storytelling is highly effective in this regard. You should always have a few stories at your disposal. These should be stories about how you were able to help other customers who are similar to your prospect. Tell them about specific problems you were able to solve. It’s an effective way to give a concrete example of what you can do for your prospect.

Of course, testimonials are also helpful. What better way to sell your services than to have your previous customers sell them for you?

Tony Pour, founder of SellMax found that using this method of social proof has helped his business immensely.

“Since we don’t sell actual products, we have to work hard to put our customers at ease. On our website, we have testimonials from previous customers who have used our services. This shows our prospects that we can deliver on our promises.”

When you’re marketing your service, always include a few testimonial statements from your satisfied customers. When prospects see these, it will put them more at ease. If your service worked for your previous customers, it should work for your prospects too, right?

Build a Brand That Differentiates Your Company

Building a strong brand is crucial to the success of any company, but it’s especially important to service-based companies. Again, since your prospect can’t actually see your offering, they need something to connect to on a deeper level.

That’s what a strong brand can do for your business.

Your brand is what will distinguish you from your competition. It gives your prospects a reason to choose you over the other companies in your industry.

Branding is about defining who your company is, and what it stands for. It’s massively important that you understand this. If you don’t define yourself, others will do it for you, and this won’t always work in your favor.

So what is a brand?

Jeff Bezos gives the best definition:

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Determine what it is you want to be known for. Figure what you want others to say about you when you’re not in the room.

Here’s an important point to remember. Branding isn’t about the “what.” It’s about the “why.” Your brand is about why you do what you do. Simon Sinek says in his famous TED Talk that you have to focus on doing business with those who believe what you believe. Your beliefs are your brand.

Successful branding is about perspective. It’s your unique brand perspective that is going to make you stand out from the crowd. Find out what your unique brand perspective is, and work hard to communicate it to your audience. It’ll give you a way to connect with those you want to serve.


Selling intangible products doesn’t have to be too difficult. As you can see, most of it is about selling who you are. The great thing about this is that you’re already unique. There’s nobody else who is exactly like you.

When you are your authentic self, and you know how to get your prospects to like and trust you, it will become much easier to close more deals. Using the tips given in this post, you can build yourself into a product that people are excited about buying.

Tablet Photo via Shutterstock 6 Comments ▼

Jeff Charles Jeff Charles is the founder of Artisan Owl Media, an Austin-based content marketing agency that specializes in helping professional service firms increase their influence and earn more clients.

6 Reactions
  1. It is important to put yourself in the shoes of your prospect. What are they looking for? What are they expecting? I agree when you say that emotions play a role in this.

  2. Very relevant tips. I’d like to add to the The Social Proof point, where you say that “Since you’re selling something that can’t be seen or touched, you need to find other ways to get your prospect to see the value in your offering.” It’s a good way to follow but for SaaS (software as a service) companies that just start, there should be other ways to gain readability and get first clients.

    For example, in WordPress space I’m dealing with this readability can be reached by providing prospects with the opportunity to test the product firsthand (literally, make and save changes, delete or add content or whatever on WordPress dashboard) Tools like this demo builder http://www.getmotopress.com/plugins/demo-builder-plugin-for-wordpress/ is what I am talking about. This is much more effective than just buying ads or whatever else hard marketing proposes.

  3. Excellent article Lisa. Thanks for sharing!!

    I’m going to do a little investigating on what people say when I’m out of the room so I can adjust, improve or keep what I’ve been doing so far.

    I can’t wait to hear your presentation at WeCAN next week!!

  4. I like what you said about branding a company in order to distinguish yourself from the competition. When it comes to selling a business, it’s important to make your brand enticing to potential buyers. If I were to own a business that I wanted to sell, I would make sure to work with a company that knows the best methods to use.

  5. Excellent!
    However, as Ann mention above, when you do not have a Social Proof Point, you need an entry level point to sell your services. This might be the key factor to take action.

  6. this is sooo eye opening