Everybody understands the distinction between selling a product that can be seen and touched, and selling a service that can’t be touched, tasted, felt, or seen before is bought.
One practical example of how products and services differ is to consider what happens when a product fails versus what happens when a service fails.
It’s obvious when a product fails – it stops working; when it’s plugged in nothing happens. You return it or exercise your warrantee options. But what happens when a service fails? How do you even know if it has?
In Consulting services it happens when a client won’t get what he/she thinks is buying. When he/she thinks the service rendered does not comply with the service asked for.
– Communication problems?
– Lack of understanding of the results delivered?
– Misinterpretation from the consultant side of what were the client’s expectations? Expected Results?
What are you going to say to such a client?
What does it mean to sell an invisible service?
It means you should be extremely careful with your marketing. Meaning that you should pay serious attention to what are you selling, the Service itself, and not be only worried to have the word spread out.
Your marketing efforts should align the service, its intrinsic value, with the value the client will perceive (perceived value) and will be willing to buy.
The service needs first to be refined in order to when the message gets out, the marketing efforts are maximized and multiplied. If these two aspects are not aligned, your reputation will pay for it. And this is really difficult to recover. It’s invisible, remember? But with a visible effect on you!
Don’t focus on functionalities, when selling a service, focus on benefits, reliable ones, not things you cannot deliver or the client use or do, if behind their capabilities.
Think about Marketing reputation, communicate advances your services can deliver, that will be used by the client. And the more advances your client is capable of, the more you will be successful. If you raise the bar based on what the market reports say you should deliver, expects from you, or are willing to buy, you will be talking to nobody. Or eventually to a Marketing designed “persona” that ultimately does not exist.
Fear is key when selling services. Overcome the client’s fear and succeed at it. Over time you will build a reputation and a solid base of references. This is the power of working diligently on the first rule of marketing, analyzing, and improving the service itself.
You can read more about it in Harry Beckwith’s Selling the Invisible.