How to sell services online as a professional service provider
Here’s what you need to know about selling professional services online.
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People often underestimate service-based businesses, thinking they can do what you do after only watching a YouTube video or reading an article. It’s easier for people to appreciate the value of something they can hold, like tangible products, while it can be more challenging to market and sell services online.
With the lack of preliminary face-to-face communication, pitching your services to someone checking out your website and reading about your offerings is generally harder. As a service provider, if you don’t know how to sell online, then your business probably won’t last very long. The good news is that several sales and marketing tools are available to help make it easier to succeed online.
The real challenge lies in knowing how to leverage these tools and automated workflows to deliver value for your service-based business. Here’s what you need to know about how to sell your services online.
First things first, establish your brand identity
When it comes to selling services online, you first want to make sure that people know who you are and what sets you apart from similar firms. When you take the time to establish and differentiate your brand, it becomes easier to attract the right prospective clients.
You also need to truly understand the full scope of your service. Without a deeper understanding and relationship with the kind of service you want to provide, you’ll have a difficult time communicating your value to potential clients. Define your business’s unique selling points to start understanding your strengths and how to market them to consumers.
Here are some ways to discover the identity of your professional services firm:
Define your niche
A niche is a specific segment that you choose to set you apart from others. Without knowing your niche, you’ll lose the authority and expertise that you can provide to your potential clients.
Start by exploring the current market. Here are some guide questions for your analysis:
- What is the current state of the market where my business belongs?
- What are the typical services offered in the market today?
- What are the missing services rarely provided in the market today?
- What are the areas that competitors don’t give too much focus on but are valuable to the users?
- Who is my ideal client and what are their pain points?
- Which is the most authoritative website in my line of business, and what makes it so credible?
If the market is saturated, it’s hard to differentiate your services. Instead of focusing on differentiation, you can invest in finding ways to offer similar services but at a greater value or with more convenience than that of competitors.
Be an authority in your field
Expertise, authority, and trust. You’ll struggle to sell services online without these three attributes in your business. As a service provider, your authority and expertise over the subject matter are so important in establishing your online footprint. Authority means that your readers, prospective clients, and existing clients refer to your website to gather expert information.
Building authority also happens when other websites and blogs are quoting or linking to your web pages and articles. If other professional services websites recognize your authority and expertise, it means that the information you share with consumers is informative and helpful to them. Providing expert content will build trust and boost conversion rates, which in turn means more clients.
Find and connect with your target audience
You cannot sell services if you don’t know who you’re selling to. That’s why defining your target audience is a crucial step when setting up your digital marketing strategy.
This involves some market research. Specifically, you would want to focus on segmenting the market and identifying the people who need your services. There are lots of resources on the Internet that help you quickly identify the right groups of people with the same needs.
As an example, let’s assume that your service business provides financial advice about life insurance products. You’ll need to focus primarily on working individuals and heads of families. You don’t necessarily have to consider people in their 20s or those in their 70s since they aren’t likely to need your services.
In this context, you can define your target audience using different parameters, including:
- Age (22 to 45 years old)
- Location (Preferably in the US)
- Career (Professionals, business owners, freelancers, etc.)
- Salary (Healthy monthly income)
- Goals (Raise and support a family and ensure financial security in case of unfortunate events)
Make your services relatable
Selling services online is all about leveraging customer relationships. And the only way that can happen is if your services are relatable. This means the people you’re targeting should immediately understand the problem that you’re setting out to solve as a professional service provider. You should be able to break down their pain points quickly and present the effective solutions that you offer.
This is not always easy to do in a service business because there are some problems that people don’t even know they have until you explain them. Still, offering a relatable and useful service is the surest way to attract new customers and earn repeat business from previous clients.
Tips to sell your services online
If you want to achieve positive results, you can’t just do what everyone else is doing.
Convincing people to consult you over your competitors for their problems is no small feat. Here are our best tips for setting up a solid process for selling online.
Have a website that enables selling
A professional website is a must-have when it comes to selling services online. A high-quality professional services site will convey prestige and communicate authority in your niche.
Provide service details and next steps
Include service pages or a service menu on your site that details the value of each offering, and support your claims with testimonials from real clients on the results they experienced after working with you. A short testimonial has the power to increase conversions on these pages by 34%!
In addition to social proof, an effective service description should answer these questions:
- Who is this service meant for?
- What’s the problem this service solves?
- Does this service offer additional benefits?
- What delivery process does this service follow, including steps and timeline?
- How long does it typically take to see results?
Service pages should include calls to action (CTAs) that prompt visitors to purchase now, schedule a consultation, or contact you.
Let visitors self-transact
Consumers expect to be able to self-transact online without any delay or complication. Make your pages transactional by including pricing specifics and allowing visitors to purchase immediately via online checkout.
Building these workflows into your online presence is beneficial for you because the less time they spend looking for the next step, the sooner they’ll take action and buy. To sell more and encourage retention, your site should include all of the tools for your client journey, from lead forms and online scheduling to client intake and digital payments.
Every step of working with your firm, from initial contact to actually making a purchase or signing a contract, should be frictionless, available virtually, and built for repeat business. 83% of users won’t revisit a website that doesn’t meet their expectations.
Don’t overlook search engine optimization
Make sure your website is fully optimized for search engines so you can reach website visitors in the first place. Optimizing your site will allow you to rank for the keywords related to your services that people are searching for. This may mean hiring a search engine optimization (SEO) expert to ensure your professional service site is easy to find and understand. SEO remains one of the most effective ways to drive traffic and gain quality leads, and no firm can afford to overlook it.
Productize your services
Productized services are packaged similarly to physical products and follow a standardized, repeatable process. They’re easy to identify, select, and purchase. Rather than customizing your service delivery process for each client, productized offerings tell clients upfront what they’ll be getting, how long it’ll take, and how much it’ll cost.
Productizing your services makes it easier to deliver services to more clients without dramatically increasing your workload. As a service provider, you only have so much time in the day and it can be difficult to break the ceiling to sell more and scale. Productization enables you to service more clients in a day, earn more revenue, and help your clients see results faster and more predictably.
Productized services let you automate your client intake and onboarding, so you save time on admin tasks and focus on work that generates revenue. This also gives you more freedom to focus on improving the quality of your services and how to market them to prospects.
To get started productizing your services, choose an in-demand service you offer clients that’s easy for you to deliver online through a predictable process. Bonus points if your service fills a gap in the market. Next, you’ll need to choose a format in which to deliver your productized service, such as a digital course, ebook, videos narrated by you, or templates.
Then, establish a cadence for delivering this service to clients. It may be a one-time offering or a recurring subscription. If you offer a service for recurring needs like accounting or content creation, consider a subscription structure where clients pay a set amount per month.
Selling subscriptions of your services is a great way to provide more predictability and profitability for your firm. For consultants and coaches, it’s a natural way to share your knowledge with a larger audience. Or for example, an insurance agent can start small with productization by shifting to meet with clients online only for 30-minute consults, allowing you to serve more people in a day.
Once you’ve productized a service, you need your website to support selling through strong branding and messaging, making it easy to find all of the relevant information and understand a service’s value. Include prices and packages on your site that can be purchased within only a click or two.
Productizing your services and setting up your website to sell them is an initial time investment, but once it’s set up, you can expect benefits like more sales, streamlined processes (time back in your day!), and a scalable business model that helps your business grow.
Go heavy on your content marketing
Explain your services as detailed and concisely as possible. Don’t just settle on vague one- to two-line descriptions. Let people completely understand what problems you can help eradicate for them.
Utilize different types of content — text, graphic designs, videos, etc to maintain an engaging online presence. The more timely, relevant content you publish, the quicker people will start to see you as an authority figure in your industry.
Think about what clients will ask. If you can predict what customers will ask, you’re saving yourself a lot of time in case a potential client chooses one of your offerings.
Let’s say you’re a tax consultant. The possible questions that customers might ask are:
- Do you offer assistance for tax compliance across multiple states?
- Is tax preparation included in this package?
- Can you help me if I get audited?
- How many hours of one-on-one consulting service do I get from this plan?
- Do you have chat support?
Anticipating these questions and providing direct, well-thought-out answers in your content is the surest way to put visitors at ease and convert leads into prospects.
Explore other potential revenue sources
You can create a new revenue stream by adding an online store to your site and selling digital products, such as courses, e-books, and guides related to your area of specialization. This is a great way to expand your customer base with new and repeat customers. And since you’re selling a product, you can sell to other clients from all over the world.
Highlight the value of the service rather than its benefits
Don’t just give clients a list of things they’ll get if they choose you. Instead, tell them about the experience they can expect by choosing you. Give them case studies of successful clients and explain how you helped these clients achieve their goals.
You can highlight value by:
- Explaining the problems and challenges of previous customers
- Showing the issues you found in the previous clients’ practices and processes
- Providing a solution to the problems and issues of the past client
- Sharing how your recommendation helped the past client reach new heights
Be flexible with your pricing
Designing your services in plan tiers offers flexibility to different kinds of individuals. Of course, not all clients can get the best plan. You can bring them in as clients, build a relationship, and nurture them by providing lower plans. In the future, they might upgrade to a higher plan when there’s a business need for it.
Potential clients will always be particular about the pricing. Dedicate a space for pricing and be specific about the details. Be clear if the plans are per project, per month, or per year.
Utilize automation tools and platforms
Taking advantage of automation tools is simply the smart way to sell your services online. It can save you time, money, and effort while achieving even better results than doing it yourself or using a bare-bones platform.
Essentially, you want to make it as simple and easy as possible for people to pay for your services. For instance, you can utilize tools that let you accept payments from different types of payment processors — PayPal, credit cards, ApplePay, eWallets, etc.
You could also go for tools that help your website visitors schedule appointments directly from a dedicated web page. This can streamline the entire onboarding process, saving you both time and money in the long run.
Let B12 help you sell services online
At B12, our goal is to help your business thrive. Our main focus is to help professional services firms bring their business online fast, ensure they look credible, and enable them to reach more clients. We offer everything you need to sell your services online — from professionally designed websites to copywriting and SEO solutions, and even a wide selection of powerful tools designed to make life as a service provider easier, including payments, scheduling, and email marketing.