How to sell professional services effectively online?
- Productize your service
- Establish a reliable sales process
- Deliver amazing work
- Drive customer referrals
- Build convincing forms of proof
Find out more about these below.
Learning how to sell professional services online is an acquired skill that takes time to develop. But with some work and time investment, you can set your service business up to act as an all-in-one sales funnel.
From customer interest to completing the job and securing a great review, establishing a sales funnel is integral to running and scaling your professional services business.
The key to implementing a proper sales process for your services is a combination of 5 things:
- Developing solutions for specific problems
“Productize” your services by putting together different capabilities and expertise that are specifically geared towards solving your ideal customer’s problem.
- Establishing a reliable sales process
Make use of technology (landing pages and forms primarily) to create a sales process that drives your ideal customers down a pre-defined acquisition funnel.
- Executing the work with high standards
The results should speak for themselves. The return on investment should be clear and make it a no-brainer for the customer to spend more money with you. This can lead to referrals or useful customer reviews.
- Maintaining a relationship with existing customers
Retaining customers costs considerably less than procuring new ones, so putting some effort into establishing good working relations can go quite far. You can also upsell customers who’ve been with your for a long time.
- Building a reliable form of proof
Portfolios, customer reviews, sample/free trial, benefits-driven messaging, and other types of proof can lead to higher customer conversions. These should go together with your marketing assets.
Using these 5 points can transform the way you do business and help to establish yourself online. When customers are shopping online, they are looking for reliable results that can be replicated.
Unlike a physical product, services can be a much tougher sell because the deliverable’s value can be difficult to evaluate. The use portfolios and case studies is important in proving your service provides the value you claim.
Implementing Your Online Sales Process
Understanding the reasoning behind these points is one thing, but implementing them effectively is a big effort. Proper research makes the changes easier to get used to, but additional software and services can simplify the process. Here’s how to sell your professional services online:
Sales tip 1: Package your services like a product
Whether you are looking to find a random piece of information or you want to buy a product or service you saw a friend use, the internet can connect you with what you need.
Your services should be showcased in a way that makes it easy for a customer to understand and know exactly what to expect upfront rather than having to fill out a contact form and wait.
Showcase your services in a way where customers know exactly what to expect upfront rather than having to fill out a contact form and wait.
The easiest way to do this is to productize your services by putting together a product-like purchase that states exactly what to expect with the process and results.
People want dependable results every time.
That’s why businesses like Design Pickle have spent 100s of thousands of dollars developing processes that provide their customers with the exact same experience every time. Developing and establishing processes that can deliver reliable results is a key part of doing business online.
These replicable processes provide your customers with dependable results, and they allow for a better estimate of the time and cost associated with a project.
Sales tip 2: Position yourself as an expert
Establishing yourself as an expert is another important part of securing your customer’s confidence.
Customers want to know that their purchase is in the hands of a professional that can deliver the same quality that was sold to them in a timely manner.
Knowing that an expert is involved in their project can provide a sense of security while also inspiring trust in your ability to deliver. Your expertise can be displayed in a number of ways and will be industry-reliant.
Some of the most common ways are through credentials or certifications, awards, news articles, and reviews.
When shopping online, customers look for credibility and proof of performance since anyone can say they are an expert over the internet. Providing undeniable proof of who you are and your quality of work can go a long way in securing your client’s trust and business.
Gather inspiration from your competition as well as unrelated service businesses to see what works for them that you haven’t applied yet. Copying some elements is ok if done in good faith.
Sales tip 3: Establish sales & service processes
The first and most important part of effectively selling your professional services online is to find a dependable platform that can guide your customer through the sales process.
There are several important factors to consider here:
- Customer conversion
While your ads and SEO will direct customers to wherever you’d like them to go, it’s important that your system has a landing page that can effectively convert the traffic. What does that mean? Your landing page should make it simple to learn more about you and why you are the best option to solve their problems.
Billing and payment processing is an important part of what makes online orders so great. Payment can be done entirely hands-free on your end while also providing a safe and secure experience for your customers.
- Customer management
Your website or platform should have the capability to handle customer requests and communication. This is the primary bridge of communication between you and your customer, so it’s important that it’s easy to use and isn’t a hassle to customers.
- Project and task management
You may already have a system or software in place that manages your projects, however, integrating your existing system with your new online source can be difficult.
A good platform will provide a way to easily manage and organize your projects so that all messages, invoices, and any other relevant information stay together.
Building a website can offer a fully customizable option that can incorporate all of these things, but developing systems and having one designed from the ground up can be expensive and time-consuming.
Pre-built solutions like ManyRequests offer an extremely easy and intuitive setup process that can save you time and money while getting you started quickly.
Sales tip 4: Provide great services that market themselves
The final step is performing the work to the standards you conveyed in your productized service. With solid processes in place, this shouldn’t be an issue since you can replicate the results.
When you deliver exactly what a customer is expecting, that can supply the client with the last piece of proof they need before referring you.
When you deliver exactly what a customer is expecting, that can supply the client with the last piece of proof they need. Not only will they feel confident in purchasing from you again, but they also have a personal experience that they can share and refer to others in the industry.
These customers turn into recurring clients as well as walking billboards further instilling trust and confidence in potential consumers. Use this to your benefit as it can add significant value to your business as well as save money on ads or other customer acquisition techniques.
The internet has long enabled people to parade as experts and declare themselves as something they’re not. Unfortunately, this has led to an increase in skepticism when conducting business online.
Internet users have become wary of service providers that lack the proper proof and credibility. This makes it incredibly important to secure and showcase reviews and testimonials as social proof when selling online.
Social proof serves to reassure potential customers that you are legitimate and that you can provide what you propose. The good news is that happy customers are more than willing to provide you with great reviews.
Showcasing this type of feedback is an excellent way to instill confidence and reassure your customers that you are who you say you are while delivering the value they’re looking for.
Driving repeatable customer acquisition
Customer acquisition is a key part of the online sales process. Ads can provide a solid way to direct potential customers to your services, but can also be a waste of money if they aren’t targeted correctly.
Casting a large net isn’t always the best way to catch the biggest fish.
Defining your ideal customer and buyer persona is the first step. You will need to know what problem they are trying to solve, where they spend their time, and what they find important.
When you define your ideal customer, you can market your specific services and sell the solution to their issues. These speak to your clients much more than a universal solution and help to capture their attention.
Once your customer and productized solution are established, you can throw out a much more accurate net that can target your ideal customers and improve the conversion rate considerably. Advertisement is an excellent way to attract an audience, but it isn’t the only way either.
Offering informational content designed to help solve your customer’s problem is another way to attract traffic without having to spend consistent amounts of money on advertisement. Creating content that provides your ideal clients with value is an excellent way in establishing credibility and proof of expertise.
While it might seem like you are giving away knowledge for free, you are also establishing yourself as a relevant authority in your area, meaning that customers are more likely to refer back to you if they need help or assistance. Using either of these methods can attract reliable traffic to your business.
Consider what exactly your business needs and where your customers spend most of their time and that should help you decide which method might be best for you.
Bringing professional sales & service systems together
Implementing processes and strategies to help you sell your professional services online is tough, but this list should provide a good starting point. While the process is challenging, the internet serves as an excellent resource for additional information and applications that can smooth out the process.
The best way to earn and retain customers is through high-quality services. Clients of all stature look at the quality and performance offered and base their opinion on the delivered results.
The best way to earn and retain customers is through high-quality services. Clients base their opinion on the delivered results with previous projects.
Your fancy website design only matters if you deliver on this.
Yet delivering excellent results is highly dependent on the process, communication, and detailing of the project. Talk about a chicken and egg problem!
Using software like ManyRequests is an excellent way to make sure you are capturing all of the detail and communication with your client in one place.
That way you or other service providers have all of the information they need to successfully complete the job.
The use of this type of agreement is widespread throughout a number of industries, with the marketing agency retainer being the most common example (creative agencies are just now catching up).
Originally published Mar 17 2021
Frequently asked questions
To market your professional services effectively, you need to focus on benefits for your ideal customer, not what the process looks like in the backend. As the service provider, you’ll want to talk about all the bells and whistles but customers won’t care. What they want to know is: “What’s in it for me?” (WIFM)
To sell professional services, you have to build trust with your ideal customer. It’s not enough to nail the marketing message, you have to follow that up with a sales process that resonates with your ideal customer. Take the time to talk to them one-on-one as a first step, then create a connection between your services and what they need without forcing them into it.
There are multiple ways to sell services online. Our recommendation is to “productize” your services by creating pre-made packages or plans that feature specific outcomes for your ideal customers. This way, you can kick in a repeatable system that consistently drives leads and customers.
In 90% of cases, consulting is sold on a retainer basis (pay X per month based on expertise offered), unless you’re selling services for things that have specific deadlines or timeframes attached to them (like compliance requirements due by end of year). You can sell your retainers with a software tool like ManyRequests.