Different Approaches to Selling Your Services
Can I supersize that?
A lot has been written about different service and sales approaches and how they affect customers. Of course, I’m interested in selling my services without being pushy, without underselling myself and also without being rejected. That’s why I like to keep a close eye on how other people handle their sales approach.
A non-representative case study
Recently, I’ve been exploring my options about updating my website and have been talking to various people who might be able to help me. What has struck me is how differently they handled my request.
I approached Person 1 at a networking event and asked for advice about possible options. Person 1 was perfectly nice and friendly and asked me to write down in an email what we had talked about so that we could go into further detail. Unfortunately, a back-and-forth then ensued because Person 1 wasn’t really reading what I wrote but relying on what had stuck in his/her mind during our conversation. So, I would write something like “I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing. What I mean is actually this…” Person 1’s reply would then pretty much regurgitate what had already been written and what I had (unsuccessfully) tried to correct. Sure, I could have picked up the phone and called. I didn’t. Instead, I sent a friendly email saying I wanted to think about things. Bottom line, if someone can’t listen long enough to find out what I want and need, that does not bode well for any work to be done.
Person 2 actually approached me. We spoke on the phone and I answered quite a few questions, after which Person 2 took a closer look at my website situation. And then, unfortunately, it took almost 2 weeks for an estimate to arrive in mail box. But, everything I wanted had been factored in, proving that Person 2 had been listening. Person 2 was also very friendly and approachable. All in all, everything was pleasant.
All good things come in threes. Person 3 responded to an initial email from me within 2 hours, answering every single point I had touched on, offering a Skype consultation AND including a questionnaire to determine not only my needs but also my USP, motivation, style preferences and examples of websites that I like. What’s more, the questionnaire quite cleverly asked what other services might be needed, such as creating a corporate identity, stationery, business cards, social media profiles. And it got me thinking about other things I might want to improve and redo. Smart! Person 3 won’t be providing any fast answers because filling out the questionnaire will take some time. It will be time well spent, though, and should provide a superb basis for discussing what Person 3 can do for me – beyond my initial inquiry.
(I’m pretty sure that Person 3’s services will come with the biggest price tag, but it’s blatantly obvious why.)
The moral of the story
Listening is key, that’s a given. It’s also rather obvious whom I’ll want to work with when I decide to revamp my website.
The questionnaire really stands out for me. This is the first time I’ve been on the receiving end of such a structured and strategically designed questionnaire. I have to admit that I’m not sure when I’ll actually get around to filling it out – but the idea of someone being this interested in tailoring their services to my needs is immensely appealing.
When I’m working with new customers, I’m never sure whether they would prefer to answer all the questions I have for them on the phone or take their time to fill in a simple questionnaire. Having a nice chat on the phone makes it easier to keep the client close, but it puts them under pressure because they may not always know the answers off the bat. A questionnaire lets them get the necessary information without them having to own up to not knowing something. At the same time, a questionnaire can easily slip all the way to the bottom of your to-do list. If Person 3 has to follow up because I haven’t returned the questionnaire yet, I’d feel like a guilty school kid. That is not the kind of effect I want to have on new or potential clients. (And now I’m curious and might wait to see what kind of follow-up I get.)
Hmm. Do you use official questionnaires or briefing templates? Or do you prefer a more informal approach? Or do you have other ways altogether of getting the information you need to make sure that you AND your client are aware of the scope of services you can and will provide?