Easier Ways to Sell Online Services

In a perfect world, your work would speak for itself. In a perfect world, the value you provide would be quickly recognized and understood. So, the question is, how do you sell more of your design, development, editing, or SEO services in an imperfect world?

About ten years ago, a friend of mine invited me to his store to see a new invention he was introducing into the marketplace. He demonstrated what it did and how it worked. I wasn’t familiar with his market, but it seemed like something they might buy. Then, I heard the words that are (more often than not) the kiss of death when it comes to sales. He said, “We have to educate the marketplace.”

Long story short, the business closed down about a year later.

Technical vs Non-Technical

Much of my own work is done in the technical world. I can easily identify, however, with people who aren’t. Even those of us who write code or have experience with hardware recognize where our expertise begins and ends.

For example, you’re driving down the road when suddenly, the check engine light comes on. Seconds later, the engine dies and you steer the car over to the shoulder of the road. Naturally, you get out, open the hood and look inside. Most of us have no idea how to fix very much under the hood anymore. The days of the “shade tree mechanic” ended back in the 1980s.

Even if we can see what needs to be fixed, most of us don’t have the tools or experience to do the job properly.

That’s how most of your clients are when it comes to the services you offer. They’re not technical in this area. Some don’t have any idea understand at all. Others have some experience, but they don’t have the tools or the training it takes to do the job properly.

With that in mind, being able to explain things in simple terms can really help you connect with people who need your services. The sooner they understand exactly they’re buying and why, the easier it is to start doing business together.

Help People Understand

I use analogies a lot when I talk to people about technical things. One definition of the word analogy is – a comparison between two things, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification.

It’s the easiest way to help someone understand the value of something. Sometimes I’ll compare files and folders to drawers in a kitchen. The difference between leaving items out on a counter, piled up or putting them back in the wrong drawer is an analogy of the optimization process.

Let’s turn the situation around for a minute. Do you feel comfortable spending good money buying something you really don’t understand (Good Money = more than pocket change)? If you’re really not sure whether you need something or not, do you enthusiastic pull your credit out while thinking, “I’ll figure it out later whether I needed this or not?”

Probably not.

Your ability to communicate is quite possibly the most important part of the sales process these days. Just about everyone out there is trying to get you to open your wallet for one thing or another. I’m guessing more than half of the stuff we buy is crap. It’s not built well, doesn’t wear well, and wasn’t really worth what we paid for it.

We don’t want to be identified with that group, do we?

Investments vs Expenses

The alternative is to be seen as a person who brings something of true value to the table. Most people will gladly pay for something that genuinely helps them succeed in whatever it is they’re trying to accomplish. That’s how your services must be positioned. They must be seen on the front end as investments more than expenses.

In my own business, I offer email marketing services to most of my clients. The goal is to help local businesses build a list of happy customers. These are people who want to be kept in the loop with information about upcoming events, specials and news. Once the list is built, it’s easier and more cost-effective to reach people in their inboxes than it is through an advertisement.

Sure, advertising is a good way to reach new people. It’s not cheap, though. People understand that. They also understand email because they use it every day. Communicating the value and positioning the service as an investment isn’t a tough sell for me.

You may be thinking, what about the price?

Pricing Your Services

One of the easiest ways to price your services is by offering them in three “sizes.” I’m talking about small, medium and large versions of your service. Giving someone options returns an element of control to a prospective buyer. Sometimes a flat yes or no response is a tougher choice to make.

If you have one price, it’s essentially a yes or no proposition.

This brings up other challenges, too. What if your single price is too high or too low? Think about the different buyer personalities out there. Some people always buy the expensive brand names. They always buy premium products and services. Others are on the opposite side of the spectrum. They’ll buy the off-brand label because they believe it’s probably just as good (or close enough) to the more expensive option.

I have to admit, I’m the guy in the middle. I usually go for the mid-range option. With one price, you have one shot to get it right. With three options, all other things being equal, you have a better chance of closing the deal. You’ve given them three ways to say, “Yes,” instead of one.

If you’ve never done this before, I encourage you do give it a shot.

Start by creating the premium version of your service first. Add all the extras to it. Then, subtract some of the add-ons to create the mid-priced and lower-priced versions. Tweak it until you’re comfortable with it. Most people will find it easier working backward instead of working forward and starting with the cheapest version first.

Comparing Apples to Apples

There’s a debate on whether or not you should have your pricing posted on your website. So, let’s talk about that. The other day, I was in a grocery store and I was comparing the prices of apples. There were six different type of apples available, all priced differently.

It reminded me of that old saying about comparing apples to apples. Think about the kinds of businesses your services are a good fit for. Some businesses have much higher profit margins than others. For example, a car dealership versus a breakfast and lunch diner. Yes, those are extreme comparisons, but it illustrates a point.

Let’s say you’re offering SEO services. If you post or publish your general prices on your website (going with the small, medium and large approach), the prices might be too high for the diner and seem too low or too cheap for the car dealership.

You make the wrong first impression. Does that make sense?

In this case, you’d need different pricing for different industries. If you serve multiple industries or markets, you might consider creating multiple pricing tables to match?

Do these need to be published? No. Some companies hide their pricing pages and only reveal them to qualified leads. In other words, we’re talking about serious inquiries, not people “kicking the tires.”

Ala Carte Pricing Options

Another option would be to offer ala carte type options to add to the base price of a service. For example, if you’re selling social media services, maybe you’d include the creation of a business page in your base price? Then, the client could purchase meme creation and ad management as add-ons.

A base plan might include the setup of your social profiles. Ala carte options might include video ads, ad creation, ad management, levels of content creation and so on.

In the past, I’ve purchased software products that have used this model. The base product was fairly inexpensive. Then, if you wanted to connect to other services like Stripe, Zapier and Woo Commerce, you’d pay extra. This could be used as an alternative to small, medium and large strategy.

In my personal opinion, I don’t see it as being as effective, but it still gives the prospective buyers some options.

It’s Hard to Argue with a Menu

Have you ever seen someone haggle the prices on a dinner menu? I’m sure someone has, but it’s certainly an anomaly here in the West. Yes, I’ve heard people complain about prices, but that’s different. In other words, you won’t hear too many people trying to get the waiter or the restaurant owner to sell them a $20 steak for $15.

Imagine that. Imagine someone telling the waiting, “Go tell the owner that I’d be happy to pay $15 and not $20, then let me know what they say?” It’s different if they have a coupon because the coupon creation was initiated by the seller, not the buyer.

When you list your prices, that’s essentially your menu.

The menu is like a salesperson.

A salesperson with a menu in their hand can verbally embellish the items in print if they want to, but it’s not necessary. In most cases, the salesperson will answer questions and/or complete the sale.

I’m guessing that most of you are not what you’d call – natural born salespeople? I’d argue that such a thing doesn’t exist. We’re natural born people, everything beyond that (including walking and talking) must be learned.

Would a Menu Change the Sales Game for You?

So, how would having a menu potentially change the game for you at this point? When it comes to sales, do you get in the way of the sale or not? Do stumble over your words, feel vulnerable and not know what to say next?

A pricing menu with options designed for a specific market can change that. On a practical level, if you wanted to really keep it simple, you could send your pricing as a PDF file attachment. As long as it’s clear, it doesn’t have to be fancy.

Pricing table plugins can work in some instances. In others, however, you may need to add a few sentences of text to explain the item with a bit more depth. Remember, we’re talking about tech versus non-tech. If your audience knows your lingo, it’s a different story. If you’re selling online services, however, don’t assume anything.

You could even make a video going over the pricing options and link to your pricing pdf, or pricing URL? Whatever works for you.

So, if you’re not a good salesperson, the pricing menu concept has the potential to become a key asset in your sales process. It can help you sell higher priced services without you “messing it up” saying the wrong thing or giving the wrong impression.

I know what it’s like to be desperate to make the sale. You do everything in your power to hide it, but it’s a challenge. The menu redirects the focus. I’m not saying this is a miracle cure-all, but it can be a significant asset to you.

Solve Your Sales Problem

Some people say everything comes back to marketing. Marketing, however, is the process of getting the message out there. That’s part of the battle. Once that happens, however, that’s when you really learn that everything has to be sold.

Companies with deep pockets spend fortunes on marketing. When the sales aren’t there to match the marketing investment, they close their doors.

You may be excited about adding a new service to your existing line, and that’s great. Same goes for a new product you build or add. Just remember, you’re going to have to sell it. If you can’t sell it, it’ll sell a unit here and a unit there, but that’s about it.

Notice I didn’t say, “Everything has to be a hard sell.”

To some people, the word sales or selling implies being pressured to buy something. That’s not at all the type of selling I’m talking about. A good illustration of what I’m talking about would be when an author releases a new book, or a new movie or album is released to the public.

You Must Make the Effort

What does the author do? After a new release, they’re seen everywhere, talking about the new book. They’re out there giving interviews, appearing on podcasts, doing book signings and so on. The same thing with movies.

Then, the marketing responds, or they don’t.

In your case, you’ll be out there introducing your service to new people. You’ll be answering questions and explaining how people will benefit from what you’re offering. You’ll be closing sales and moving new people through the process. I hate to say it, but it’s sort of like politics. You’re everywhere you can be – meeting people, shaking hands, and talking about what you can do for them. You go from town to town (site to site). From stadiums to town halls, you’re there.

Over time, your reputation grows and spreads.

This is why I took to the time to talk about the menu-approach combined with different pricing levels for your service. Once you have a pricing system in place, it removes a lot of the stress from the overall equation.

It’s like having a meal kit. All the ingredients you need to make the recipe are pre-measured and included in the package. It makes getting to the desired end result less stressful.

So, what do you think? Is it workable? Is it doable for you? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

A Selling System for Creatives

Picture of Jim Galiano

Jim Galiano

Jim Galiano is an Internet consultant, web developer, author and podcaster who started doing business online in 1998. His consulting, marketing and publicity services have been used worldwide since 2002. Jim has been interviewed by a variety of media sources including the Wall Street Journal and CBS News in New York.

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About Jim

Jim Galiano is an Internet consultant, web developer, author and podcaster who started doing business online in 1998. His consulting, marketing and publicity services have been used worldwide since 2002.

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