In the “Build A Better Website” series, we’ll dissect a website page by page and put it back together with purpose and great content so that each page of your site can build trust, earn credibility and drive revenue for your business.
This post is geared toward service providers, who have the unique challenge of selling something that doesn’t exist. Businesses selling tangible products have more leeway when it comes to making the sale than service providers because consumers are more likely to plunk down a few bucks for something they can see, touch and eventually play with once it arrives on their doorstep than to pay for brainpower and time, which is what service providers are really selling.
So if you’ve ever been frustrated by trying to convince someone that your time is worth as much as, or more than, that bright red plastic thingamajiggy that’s stuck on a bookshelf somewhere, you’re in the right place.
The “Time” Vs. “Stuff” Conundrum
If your business is all about selling brain trust, intellectual property, ideas and time instead of pretty, shiny objects, you’re in for a challenge. Part of the challenge is that people don’t value time as much as they value “stuff”. Oh sure, logically they would disagree. Given five minutes to answer, most people would agree that they’d prefer more time to another “thing”.
But when it comes to purchasing, have you ever really heard anyone haggle with the A&P manager over the cost of bananas? But I bet you’ve heard – and probably even done – some haggling when it comes to services (time).
The other part of the challenge is that retailers and product vendors can do some pretty fancy pricing, couponing, and discounting, and use strategies like loss-leaders to drive purchases. Service providers either get paid for their time and energy – or they don’t. Every time you charge someone $99 for an hour of your time instead of $100 you’re diminishing your revenue potential and quite possibly devaluing yourself.
Ok, ok, being a service provider is kinda tricky! What the heck can you do about it, especially when there are probably a lot of “you” doing what you do?
You can start with the “Services” page on your website.
You know the one, it sits there talking about how great your services are, how much experience you have performing them, maybe the process you follow to achieve a result. The one that probably uses words like “synergy” and “leverage”.
If you ever plan to make a single sale with your site, it’s time to rethink that page.
The One Thing You MUST Do On Your Services Page: Make It About Results – Not About Services
Might sound like a contradiction, but it’s true: your services page should not be about your services.
I’m sure you’ve worked very hard to describe them, market them, make them sound fantastic. The problem is that they probably only sound fantastic to you. They’re your children! You coddle them, groom them, watch them grow and love them even when they use stupid marketing buzzwords like “innovative”. (As opposed to, say, stuck-in-the-90s?)
But nobody cares about what you do. I’ve said this many times and each time I do, I feel a little pang of guilt because I’m sure there are some people reading this who get offended every time I suggest that they are NOT the center of their customer’s universe.
But I don’t say those words to be mean or disparaging. I say them to remind you that when it comes to your services, the only thing people really want to know is… can you guess?
I’ll give you a minute to think about it…
They want to know, “What’s in it for me?”
Take a look at your services page and tell me: does it talk about your services, how they work, what they are… or does it talk about how you can help your customers?
Does it tell them what problem you will solve for them?
What benefits they’ll get out of working with you?
Does it address their fears and pain points and provide a solution that’s direct, immediate and easy to understand?
Or does it assure them that you “leverage the power of social marketing to ensure synergy among all aspects of a robust and innovative marketing plan?” (Heaven help you if you ever use the phrase “bleeding edge”. I will come over there and cut you with your own edge.)
Sell The Hole, Not The Drill
In the gorgeous words of Harvard economist and professor Theodore Levitt, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter-inch hole.”
I can’t say anything more brilliant or clearer than that.
Examine your Services page and see if it talks about what your services are. If it does, I want you to rewrite it and instead talk about what your services do.
Start by making a list of everything your customers want. In my business, people don’t want a website. Oh sure, someone will call me up and say, “I want a website.” But the website is the drill. The “hole” they’re really looking for is new business – new leads, new customers, new sales generated by the website. The hole might be prestige and credibility. Deep down it could also be about saving money, time and energy by having a website that can do a few tricks of its own.
I can sell the website – sometimes – if the price is right and the planets are aligned. But I can sell the vision of more customers, more money, and less work a whole lot easier and more often.
Get to the heart of what your customers really want and write your Services page about how you’re going to give it to them.
Remove The Baggage
I also want you to write a list of things that your customers fear and hate. Part of the sales process is removing the fear and the doubt that people may have about your industry, your company or just doing business with you in general.
I once read a great book (article? post?) that unfortunately I can’t credit right now because I can’t remember enough about it to find it, but the key takeaway was that every customer comes to you with baggage.
Think of your customer’s brain like the baggage carousel in an airport.
All their problems, fears, concerns, questions and doubts are sitting on that carousel and circling around and around and around.
It’s your job to remove the baggage one piece at a time until all that resistance is gone. (Extra bonus points if you’ve heard this analogy before and can source it!)
Unless you’re brand spanking new at your job you’ve probably heard a complaint or two from customers. You’ve probably gotten the same resistance in meetings with different prospects. Even if you are brand spanking new I bet you’ve heard a few unsavory things about people in your industry.
For me, it’s often about SEO scams and web developers who “disappear” along with the client’s money and code. Sometimes it’s about fear of the unknown and of the amount of time and energy it will take my client to engage in a web project. Instead of selling them a website, I sell them peace of mind.
Think about how you can apply this to your business. What do prospects in your industry worry about? What’s preventing them from signing on the dotted line? Why would someone walk away instead of giving you their business and trust?
If you know what those things are you can craft your Services page about those things and not about the “services” that are probably provided by lots of other vendors everywhere.
Tri It Now
Whatever business or industry you’re in, I want you think about one of your services. You may do a lot of things but focus on one for now.
Do you provide coaching or consulting services? Development services? Design or creative services? Contracting, plumbing or landscaping?
Write it down.
Now I want you to spin it around so it’s not about the service but about the result.
Instead of promising “award-winning landscaping services” I want you to “build a dream garden” where your customers can “spend summer afternoons relaxing under a cool shade tree and watching the butterflies instead of fighting with weeds and worms.”
Build a picture of how much better your customers’ lives will be once they do business with you and I guarantee you’ll be selling a lot more a lot easier than the guy who’s still selling hardy shrubs.
Want to practice? Tell me about one of your services in the comments below and then tell me how you can spin it so it’s about the benefit to your customer and not about the service. I’ll throw my two cents in and we’ll turn that typical services page of yours into one that makes your customers asking you to do business with them – instead of the other way around!
P.S.: Do you think the woman in the photo above wanted a hammock, or the chance to sit outside and work on the porch on a sunny day? The answer will make or break the sale!