When you’re in the business of providing a service — whether you’re in government contracting, architecture, construction, consulting, coaching, financial advising, or professional speaking — you are, in essence, giving advice.
You don’t have the final say in how a process is implemented, a project is executed, or an organization is structured. You research, you analyze, and you propose…which is to say you offer advice.
So your task, when selling a service, is to show prospects that you have the best advice for them.
To sell a service you need to know — and to demonstrate — four things:
1. You know what you know.
You have deep, focused, narrow knowledge.
You know what you know, and you know what you don’t know. You know what you’re best at. You’re constantly learning and improving your skills.
You know your blind spots. You know your values and you won’t compromise them. You know the kind of clients you want and work best with.
You would never say, “I’m a professional speaker, I can speak about anything.” Or “As a coach I have a process that can help anyone in any situation.” Or “My proprietary consulting approach has universal applicability.”
2. You know your clients.
You know the people and the companies that can profit from what you do. You know when there’s a good fit.
You know their problems. You know what ails them, where their pain is, and how to relieve it.
You may not share their perspective (you wouldn’t be much help to them if you did), but you do share their concerns. You speak their language.
3. You know how clients benefit from working with you.
You know how to help them solve a problem or achieve a goal that matters to them.
Your advice can help them solve, fix, improve, grow, gain, or avoid something, and in the process make their lives better.
You can help them in immediate and specific ways, when they’re in crisis mode. And you can help them with big picture, futuristic planning.
4. You know how you are different from the competition.
You don’t have to prove that your advice is the best in the world, just that it is best for this particular person or company in this situation, at this time, given their constraints.
To do so, you have to know how you — and your advice — stacks up against the competition. How are you different? And how does that difference benefit your clients?