15. How to SELL services to small businesses — 30 Days Of Medium
Welcome back to 30 Days Of Medium.
Thanks to everyone who has been reading, clapping and commenting so far! Today’s topic is how to SELL services to small businesses.
You can catch up on the first 14 days of my 30 Days Of Medium challenge below if you missed them:
How do you SELL services?
I’m talking about SELLING not order taking. Selling is a transfer of enthusiasm during which you convince a prospective customer that you have the solution to their problem or want.
Selling services to small businesses is achieved by getting these three things right:
Offering refers to what you’re selling. I run a web design agency in Norwich, so I sell web design services to local businesses.
Are you selling the right product or service, in the right way.
For instance, if you are a web developer and your target market is small businesses with 1–5 employees, are you selling packages appropriate to this market?
A small business of this size is not going to be interested in all the bells and whistles.
They typically won’t care how you do the job and the priority for them will be a simple, clean website that does the job.
If you focus on the tech specs and try to make the sale based on the quality of your code compared to the competition this argument will likely fall flat.
The discussion needs to be around what do they need, timeline, budget and providing great customer service.
While of course the quality of your code is important, it’s not the driving factor for this market. This is why WordPress websites are a great fit for small businesses, where the focus is on usability and building something simple and clean.
If your offering is correct, the second thing you need to get right is price.
There are two ways you can fall down here.
Quoting too cheap. You might pick up work, but they will likely be nightmare customers who demand the world for a pittance. You may also be perceived as ‘low value’ or a ‘low quality provider.
Quoting too high. You want profitable jobs and customers who are willing to pay a fair price. But, you need to figure out what this fair price is and truly understand the market rates for what you provide.
Check out your competitors websites, ask customers what they’d be willing to pay, always ask if they have a budget (low paying customers always say they don’t have one).
It will take trial and error and you’ll probably lose work along the way, but the main thing is you look at these 3 things every time and figure out why you lost the work.
Perception is the same thing as brand.
I use the word perception because brand is generic, and why give something a name just for the sake of it? Down with jargon!
How you are perceived by your customers is the third driving factor in selling services.
There’s a reason Apple can sell relatively the same products as their competition for a huge premium. They are perceived as the market leaders, the cool brand and the ‘must have’.
It’s the same reason why some small businesses thrive and why others barely get by on referrals and by bleeding the same clients.
I’ll make it simple for you.
You need to be perceived as the right company for the job. The way to do this is by specialising.
The only way to start a small business and grow from scratch is to establish some authority as a specialist.
As businesses grow they tend to diversify into new areas.
They do this to continue growing their revenue and because they have an established trading history in parallel areas.
For example, a marketing agency starting to sell websites into existing customers, so they can sell them to new customers.
New businesses don’t have this luxury.
When competing in a crowded landscape the best way to succeed is to niche down.
Pick an area of your field and specialise.
I picked WordPress.
One because I love WordPress, two because it gives me an edge over my competition who are larger web development agencies who cater to multiple CMS systems and all types of web development projects.
If a small business wants a WordPress website, they want a WordPress specialist generally, not a jack of all trades.
If you have the cash flow to see you through 3–6 months, niche down hard.
Don’t make the mistake of going too niche, like a WordPress provider for dog kennels or something silly like that.
Because your market will be tiny.
Become just specialist enough that there will be a good supply of work and you will be able to gain a competitive edge over your competition.
9 times out of 10 I’m able to win proposals against larger web companies for my chosen market because my offering is right, my price is lower, due to WordPress being less labour intensive than coding entire websites from scratch, and by being positioned as a specialist WordPress provider.
Make sure you are perceived as a specialist and make sure your marketing is extremely simple. Leave the jargon and BS corporate speak at the door.
You’re not another generic ‘Branding & Comms Agency’.
You help finance businesses pick up new clients through targeted PR campaigns.
Who are you more likely to resonate with if you’re a finance company?
I think that’s enough for today.
Check back in tomorrow for part two.