It’s generally a good idea to view definitive statements with a bit of skepticism.
Most business advice is actually quite situational and not applicable to every service and circumstance.
Because of this, many statements that are common knowledge turn out to be nothing but myths.
“A highly detailed sales page is essential!”
“You must have high-ticket pricing.”
“Don’t use sales proposals.”
These are just some of the myths that get uttered as if they’re the end all be all when it comes to selling your services online.
Below we’ll investigate nine of these myths, add some nuance where necessary, and try to get closer to the truth so that you can effectively sell services online.
You Must Have a Signature Service
A signature service is a premium service that your business is known for. It’s designed to solve an entire customer problem using your special recipe or process.
For instance, here’s Sculpt Ad Agency’s process for their signature social ad service:
A signature service with a special process is meant to help you stand out from the crowd.
Often it includes other features that competitors don’t offer, like more access to support or a dashboard to track results.
Though a signature service can be a big selling point and help you build a reputation, it’s not necessary for successfully selling your services online.
If your target audience has a diverse set of needs, then you’ll need to offer a diverse set of solutions to satisfy them.
Not to mention, some businesses might offer complex services that don’t work well as signature services—consulting, web development, etc.
These often require very customized service offerings. So if you don’t have a signature service, don’t fret.
As long as you design your service website in a way that makes it easy for visitors to find the solution that fits their specific needs, you’ll be able to convert them into paying customers.
And if you have sales reps who can properly hold discovery calls, you can easily match customers to the right service or create a custom package based on their specific needs.
All You Need Is One Service Package
For the average business owner juggling multiple projects at once, it’s relaxing to imagine only having to create one service package.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the best strategy for online service sales. Your audience is usually broken into groups, each with its own fundamental needs and budgets.
If you were to offer only one premium package priced at $250 per month, you might miss out on all the leads who can only afford a $50 per month option, and who only really need half of the services included in that $250 package.
In essence, offering multiple packages at different prices allows you to win a greater number of customers.
To illustrate this in practice, the summer camp below offers one- and two-week programs:
Source: Camp Burgess
This caters to an audience of families with varied summer plans and budgets, and kids with varied comfort levels in regards to being away from home.
In sum, diversifying your service packages will help you convert more customers in the long run.
And unless your target audience is very specific in terms of needs and budget, using a one-size-fits all approach is likely to hurt online sales.
You Should Explain Your Process in Great Detail
When the average buyer goes to the mechanic to fix an issue with their engine, they don’t usually ask about the mechanic’s process.
The same goes for a content manager paying for a blog writing service.
The average customer cares more about the results than the nitty-gritty details of the vendor’s process.
Sure, there will be the occasional car buff who wants to talk shop and see if the mechanic’s methods line up with his vision of best practices.
But that doesn’t mean the mechanic needs to explain their process in detail on their website under the service offering.
That would be a lot of industry jargon to sift through for the average lead.
Using your service page to elaborate on the specifics of how the sausage gets made risks confusing online buyers. Or worse, it can cause them to doubt your process or their needs.
If you’re going to explain your process on your website as a trust-builder, keep it simple. No need to go into detail. You should be able to say it out loud in under a minute.
For instance, Learner does a good job of explaining their SAT tutoring service’s process in three short paragraphs on their website:
If a customer calls you up and asks for specifics, you can go ahead and explain to them if that’s what it’ll take to win the sale.
Nevertheless, let the lead make the first move here, and use your website to simply convey the basic principles or steps.
A Detailed Sales Page Is a Must for Selling a Service
You don’t need an elaborate sales page for your service. You don’t need to write a great short story or a persuasive essay.
Your service sales page needs a few essential elements if it’s going to effectively persuade leads to make a purchase:
|A catchy headline that encapsulates your service’s overall goal|
|Graphics or photos of your service or team|
|Short bullet points explaining the features and their benefits.|
|Testimonials showcasing your ability and happy customers|
|Your package’s pricing or cost estimate.|
|A call-to-action button that persuades users to register and/or buy|
By the time the lead has reached your sales page they’ve likely picked up enough information to feel comfortable buying from you.
In fact, they’re probably pretty sure that your service is a good fit for them.
Therefore, the sales page, often a landing page, is usually finishing the job, reminding them of why they need what you’re selling, and getting them to take action.
So it doesn’t have to be detailed and extensive. That’s often a self-limiting belief that holds business owners back from getting started and just creating one.
You Shouldn’t Be Transparent About Your Pricing
When you hear “hide your pricing”, doesn’t it sort of feel like that advice is coming from some shady character at a casino in a cheap suit, veiled in a thick cloud of his cigarette smoke and overly cocky about his chances to win this next round of poker?
If you’re in sales and you’ve ever had a conversation with a lead who just wants to know the rack rate before moving forward, there might’ve been instances when you’ve actually felt like the character described above.
It feels slightly morally dubious to deprive someone of at least a rough estimate of your price until they’ve gone through the dog and pony show.
We get the advice’s intention. Businesses don’t want to scare away customers with pricing before they’ve seen the magnificence of the service offering.
But, in doing so, businesses end up scaring away customers for another reason—lack of transparency.
Leads who want pricing and can’t find anything about it on your website are likely going to head over to your competitor’s website.
If they find pricing there that fits their budget, they’ll begin talks with that business, not yours.
In short, in online sales you want to give customers at least a basic idea of what it’s going to cost them. This’ll help you close more deals and form long-term relationships built on trust.
If you’re scared of losing leads early due to pricing, advertise multiple service packages at different price points.
The low-priced packages will keep the cost-wary leads in your sales funnel. And who knows, after a sales call they might find that the more expensive package is their best option.
Using Flat Rate Pricing Is the Single Best Option
Flat rate pricing is a good option for a specific type of business or situations, but it’s not the only pricing model out there.
Using a writing service as our example, let’s look at cases when this pricing model works and when it doesn’t.
Imagine a blogger who prices their writing service for 1500-word articles at $300 and then puts that on their website.
This blogger will likely have an easier time winning clients than if they were to advertise $100 per hour pricing, which just looks larger.
However, imagine that the blogger receives a request to work on a complex project and finds it difficult to predict how long it’ll take.
In these cases, the flat-rate pricing might seriously hurt the service provider’s hourly rate.
For example, say the client wants the blogger to write a product review article about a specific SaaS solution and do interviews with five of its users and one of its executives.
The blogger might predict it’ll take 5 hours of work and price the article at $500.
But there are more variables to account for than the ordinary blog post, which makes it harder to make an accurate prediction, especially if the blogger hasn’t done a project like this before.
The project could easily balloon past their estimate into 10 hours of work, reducing their hourly rate to $50 per hour.
Provided the customer wouldn’t have minded, the blogger, in this case, should’ve priced this service at an hourly rate.
What this story illustrates is that the idea that you must use flat rate pricing is flawed. There are counterexamples.
You should use the pricing model that fits your customer’s preferences while also allowing you to make the most possible for your service.
You Need to Have High-Ticket Pricing to Be Profitable
Raising your prices is certainly a good way to raise revenue, but that doesn’t mean you have to have high-ticket pricing to succeed.
If your pricing soars higher than the value your service produces for your clients, you’re going to have to do a lot of flashy showboating to get them to believe otherwise.
And it won’t feel good stretching the truth. It could also hurt your relationship with buyers if after seeing the results they feel that you took advantage of them.
Instead, find a price that’s fair but still high enough to sufficiently reward you for the great work you do for your clients.
Look at the pricing of your competitors with similar service packages. Take into account your experience and your costs.
Follow these steps to price your service:
- Estimate the amount of money and other resources you will have to put into providing the service.
- Be aware of the overall state of your industry and how prices fluctuate.
- Have an idea of who your target audience consists of and how much they can afford.
- Calculate how much time and effort will go into providing the service.
- In light of all that, estimate how much you will have to charge in order to turn a profit.
Don’t just raise it to the roof and then try to convince people it’s fair.
Sales Proposals Are a Waste of Your Time
Sales proposals outline the specifications and terms of the agreement. Some salespeople use them to set expectations and close the deal.
Proposals can comprise a single page or multiple pages. The ideal length depends on the complexity of the project.
Usually, they include sections for pricing, scope of work, approach, deadlines, deliverables, terms, and next steps.
Here’s an example of a one-page proposal:
If someone tells you they’re a waste of time, they’re probably thinking in terms of very straightforward services.
Sometimes services that you’re selling online are complex, and the client needs more personalized information than what they can find on your website.
In these cases, sales proposals help you push deals across the finish line while also ensuring that the relationship runs smoothly.
You can lay out what you need from the client and what you expect from them, and vice versa. They’re great for getting you both on the same page before the work starts.
And they’re easy to build with proposal templates in document automation tools like PandaDoc.
You Don’t Have a Reason to Make Sales Calls
Plenty of businesses that sell their services online also make sales calls. For example, they might contact a lead who filled out a request information web form on their service page.
Source: Children Unlimited
Whether or not calls are right for you really depends on the complexity of your service and the outline of your sales process.
Some sales processes require a discovery call, where you intake information about the lead to qualify them and figure out which package is best for them.
Sure, you can gather this information online in a form, but it’s still sometimes best to hop on the phone with a customer after reviewing this information to ensure they’re a good fit.
That way you can also build a personal relationship with them, which can make them more loyal to your business.
If you refuse to take sales calls, you might also alienate customers who are used to doing business this way. Some still only trust people they’ve spoken with on a call.
When it comes to selling a service online, it’s key to seek out advice that relates to your specific business model and service type.
Don’t just go with the common clear-cut suggestions. Many of them, as we’ve shown in this article, are simply myths.
To learn more about growing your service-based business, check out our article on the best practices for selling services online.