Selling a service is much more difficult than selling a product. Services are intangible items. You cannot deliver exactly the same service quality and scope twice to two different customers. There are many factors that impact services delivery ranging from vendor service implementation team to customer environment. I am concerned here with specific subject of selling IT services. IT services could be IT consultancy services, ready-made package implementations, custom package development, or maintenance and support services.
There are several techniques and approaches for services sales. Someone may imagine that it can go simply from first contact to immediate sales pitch. Although this may work with products sales, it does not work for services. Selling IT services and maintaining your level of sales with any client will require building a sales journey with the client.
Building a Relationship and Trust
The mistake I observed was that many sales people want to jump right into selling after first contact.
The problem with this approach is that it ignored the importance of trust in the sales process. I was doing something different:
- First building a relationship
- Then building trust
The result of this was that usually the customer would start asking me for my opinion on what they should purchase. As soon as that happened I had won the hard battle, and was well on my way to winning the customer. All this had happened without any hard direct selling.
Please note that you need to be genuine with the customer without any tricks.
How to Achieve This?
I discovered a short framework of actions in order to build such relationship and trust. This framework leads to longer relationship with clients and later on much effective long-term recurring sales transactions. This framework can be summarized in the following steps:
- Build a background about your customer (their business model, current challenges, their needs, priorities, etc.),
- Doing dome homework for providing some insights and proposed solutions to customer issues. This will require a wide knowledge with several technologies, practices and IT products that meet their needs,
- Combining this with higher EQ and empathy toward the client, you can still provide little unpaid services but adding much value and consultancy to client.
Many times the way I added value was not directly associated with the service I was going to try to sell them later on
For example, I might pick a much higher level topic of some mega-trend that was affecting their business segment, and discuss how other companies in their segment were tackling that issue. The value would be the insights into their peers or competitors.
Always position yourself in the expert square where you lead your customers by reference. This is the best place you can sell through your high credibility.