Small businesses face an undeniable challenge in the early days. No matter how innovative the product or service is, customers can’t buy unless they know about it. – John Rampton on The first Customers are the hardest: Top Founders Discuss the Challenges of Getting Initial Traction
So you bought into the idea of escaping unemployment through entrepreneurship? My guess is that you’ve gone to business seminars and read entrepreneurial books, you’ve heard motivational speakers and you’ve been, many times, been propped up.
You’ve left their presence feeling like you have a beast to unleash. You’ve felt in your heart of hearts that what you have is a million-dollar idea. You’ve started out and let people, especially those in your inner circle, but it seems just as impossible getting your first paying client. Maybe you just need new sales techniques.
Products often have cool features that show results quickly. Talk about the benefits of a feature and how it’ll make your customer’s life easier and you’ll probably get a sale.
Services on the other hand, are intangible. There are no buttons to push or “before and after” pictures to see. Services often get categorized as “luxury items” we can usually survive without. They are more challenging to sell because the “results” of a service can be difficult to quantify, measure or prove.
Many “hard sell” sales trainers shy away from working with service providers. It is easier to train someone to sell products with features you can see and results you can prove.
Authors, Coaches, Consultants, etc. produce results that improve the human side of life and business and “Alternative Healers” deal with subtle energies that may take longer to produce quantifiable results. To the average consumer, these are luxuries that, although desirable and beneficial, can be “done without” if money is tight.
The problem is that most consumers couldn’t care less about how you work. We care more about the benefits we’ll experience after hiring you. We want to be clear on what results you can deliver in exchange for our hard-earned money.
“What’s in it for me?” your customers are asking. It is time to stop feature-dumping! Features only imply that a “process” is beneficial, or a “technique” is going to help…. As service providers we must be able to describe clear results to potential clients.
Perhaps an import factor to keep in mind is that people often want to work with those who have got proven track record. As you start in the business world, you have got to deal with the fact that people want to work with those they can trust. People don’t want to risk working with amateurs, because you know that can be very costly.
Most importantly, you have to fight for a space against already dominant businesses in your industry. This is the undeniable truth about the business world. There are giants in every industry. In order to out-compete these giants, it may take time. Perhaps even out-competing them when placed out of side, just thriving in their presence can be very hard.