The most difficult part of developing my business has always involved selling my services to potential clients. I am not very comfortable with selling, and many service professionals have the same problem.
According to Rick Crandall’s book Marketing Your Services for People Who Hate to Sell, there are five basic components of a sales model that involves selling one’s services.
1. Building relationships at higher levels
There are several levels of relationships you can have with clients, from being a vendor (where you simply sell a commodity) to being an advisor (where you take responsibility for your client’s business and act independently on their behalf). You should aim to be at least a consultant, where you apply your expertise to understand and solve your clients’ problems. This is definitely my goal, as I try to provide more than writing and editing services – I look for ways to improve their business. For example, I will help my clients to access other service providers (such as translators, technical writers or graphic designers) when they have a need for these types of services.
2. Analyzing needs
Proper needs analysis involves asking questions, listening and analyzing clients’ responses to determine their needs, instead of just trying to sell services. The best methods of needs analysis are repeatable, such as using a checklist or questionnaire. Can I develop a checklist or questionnaire for certain potential clients? How about a short list of 3 to 5 questions to determine their writing or editing needs? This requires some planning and thought.
3. Knowing customers’ industries
I don’t know enough about specific industries (such as insurance or law) to be an expert in what they need to improve their businesses. However, I can apply my knowledge of publishing and content development to help companies in these industries to improve their publishing and content development practices. I can refer them to content specialists (such as technical writers), designers, translators, etc. who can help them to produce content that will expand their businesses. This might lead me to become more knowledgeable in their industries so that I can provide writing and editing services to these companies.
Creativity involves two elements:
- Finding new and interesting ways to attract prospects’ attention. This can be accomplished by providing a needs analysis, or contacting them in different ways.
- Providing new and better solutions, and/or customizing solutions to meet their specific needs. I can provide specific writing or editing services that fit a particular client’s needs.
5. Helping your customers succeed
A great way to help your customers succeed is to understand more about their customers. I could refer my clients to potential customers, or give them publicity by quoting them as an expert in an article that I write that appears in a national trade magazine. I could create information and educationalI materials that they can provide for free to their clients. I could even offer a free webinar on writing better emails or improving your business writing skills, which my clients would offer to their customers.
How do you sell your services to clients? Let me know – firstname.lastname@example.org.