The dirty secret of most successful service businesses is that while doing sales gets easier, it never gets easy. Most sales rely on your ability to convince a decision-maker that you’re an expert of your craft and that you know things that only those in your industry know. I, personally, find this process long and difficult, and just when you’re done convincing one person that you’ll be able to provide value to their organization, you have to do it again with the next. Once your referral stream gets large enough and your prospective clients come friendly, you start to get used to it. Eventually, though, the rock rolls back to your feet and you need to start pushing again.
While not easy, we’ve implemented sales strategies with clients that have made it easier. One of our favorites is the Win-Win Freebie. It’s a snazzy name for the oldest sales tactic in the book: give something of value away for free in return for something you value. Service sales are hard because they’re person-to-person. Service sales are hard because they’re time-consuming. Service sales are hard because there’s risk involved on both sides of the deal. The Win-Win Freebie is a way for you and the client to mitigate this risk, and it makes sales easier by addressing all three sales issues. An effective one follows the following rubric:
- Find something that takes between 0 and 5 hours to do
- Find something that you would do for a client anyway
- Find something that shows what makes you different from the thousands of others that offer the same thing that you do
- Because sales is branding, package it up,make it look nice, and give it a dedicated landing page
- Bring it up with anyone you network with, harp on the fact that it’s free and no-risk, blast it out to your email list, and mention it on social channels
- Go out and do it to the best of your ability
It’s darn effective, and almost every service company can do it. We know a financial planner that does a free fee review of a prospective’s portfolio. They’ve built their brand around low-fee, steady growth portfolios, so going through a portfolio to highlight the fees others charge is a good way for them to reinforce their positioning. We know a painter who’ll paint a bathroom for free (you just buy the paint). He believes that you’ll see a difference between the work in and out of that space, and he believes that you’ll appreciate not just what they do but the manner in which they do it. For both organizations, everybody wins. For the planner, they increase their network and have one more person talking about the outrageous fees charged by most advisors. The prospective gets a free plan to lower those fees (even if it isn’t with the planner). The painter gets an opportunity to sell the superiority of the product while the homeowner gets a freshly painted bathroom. Sure, some people are just going to be in it for the free bathroom refresh, but he’s optimistic about humanity: most have good intentions and will deal in good faith. And if they need their other rooms painted, our painter is on the bid list. What’s our Win-Win Freebie? We give away our roadmapping session to anyone who wants one. We sit with a client for a couple of hours, take them through a few branding exercises, and listen. And boy is it helpful. We get to know each other a little bit. We get to see how well we work together. The client gets a tangible asset that they can use with us or someone else that begins to answer the question “How do we talk about ourselves and what do we need to do to get that message to our customers, clients, or donors?”
Why is it important for it to be Win-Win?
Years of design work has taught us the perils of designing on spec. And we don’t design on spec. But we will consult on spec if it makes the buying process easier for our clients. Rather than getting something hazy like ‘exposure’ or ‘experience,’ we get something tangible. We increase our network, we give ourselves a chance to make a good impression on organizations we value, and we raise the awareness of branding by giving those organizations a tool (as small a piece of the branding whole as it is) that will help them while they develop their brand. If there’s nothing for us to gain, we won’t spend the time (and time is the consultant’s primary asset, so we don’t give it away lightly). But in the majority of cases, there’s value, and where there’s value, everybody wins.
We’re always looking for great companies to work with. If you know an organization who could benefit from a free roadmapping session, drop us a line. And thanks!