So you want to sell your services online. What can you do to make sure your clients will buy?
I’m going to share an approach to test your offer first, so you can launch a new service and sell it with confidence.
And guess what? I’m not sharing a sales technique.
It’s a very low-risk method that I teach inside my Offer Accelerator program.
Does wanting to sell your services online keep you up at night?
You have an idea to sell your services online — coaching, consulting, marketing, design, web development, copywriting — there are any number of professional services you can offer.
You’re excited about this idea — maybe so excited it’s keeping you up at night.
That happens to me all the time. I end up with insomnia, not because I’m worried about something but because I am so excited about a new idea, I can’t sleep!
Let’s slow down for a bit. I want to share an approach that will help you to guarantee that your new online service will work.
How to sell your services online, step by step
The secret to success when you sell your services online is simple — develop your offer carefully, and involve your customers in the process.
I’ve had a service-based business since 1992 — a design and marketing studio called Zurek Design. I know selling professional services can be stressful.
Fortunately, the approach I’m about to share removes stress from the process.
Here’s the big shift that I want you to remember when you sell your services online: Dream big, start small, and test.
The first step is to test your service idea. Don’t try to sell your services online without testing.
Do not develop an elaborate service and sign up for expensive software solutions, hire help, and get all sorts of expensive tech extras before you test whether or not your new service is actually going to work.
This sounds way too obvious. But as an online business coach for more than 10 years, you know how often people have come to me after they attempt to launch a new service and it flops? A lot.
If you’re ready to sell your services online, I want you to avoid this kind of failure — and this goes for any online offer.
Do not create an elaborate solution before you test a small version of the solution.
This is one of the huge advantages to online business — we can test minimum viable solutions, and then iterate easily and quickly. The online business space is perfectly suited to this kind of approach.
8 steps to sell your services online — introducing the Smart Start method
I’m going to walk you through the exact process that I teach during the first 30 days of my Offer Accelerator (OA) program. It’s called the Smart Start Method. It’s an approach to developing an offer that eliminates risk so you can test your offer fast.
(Hey — do you prefer watching to reading? Check out the video above to learn my Smart Start Method. And subscribe to my YouTube channel for weekly business guidance.)
The Smart Start method will help you create your online service offer so that you can make money online using your expertise, your values, and your strengths.
Let’s dig in.
1. Identify your ideal clients
The first thing to think about is who you want to serve. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to create an ideal client avatar with a name, appearance, and hobbies.
I know you’ve done that! And if you haven’t yet …
Instead, what I want you to do is to just take a moment and daydream about your ideal customer.
A very simple way to start this process is to think back to the people that you’ve enjoyed interacting with professionally in the past.
- What do these people have in common?
- What behaviors do they share?
- How do they approach life?
- Are they open and friendly?
- Are they traditionalists — or do they prefer to think outside the box?
Think about the personality types who make the most progress when they work with your services, and think about why that works so well for you.
Here’s the thing: Whether you sell your services online or offline, you’ll be working closely with your clients. You want to find people you resonate with and who are open to being guided by your services.
Once you’re clear about who you want to serve, let’s spend some time thinking about what you bring to the table.
2. Tap into your personal values
At this point in our lives, we all have things that matter to us. When you decide to sell your services online, you want to be sure that your new service reflects those personal and professional values.
That’s why it’s so important to spend some time thinking about these things before you offer your new professional service.
One of the things I say all the time in the Offer Accelerator is:
“One of the best ways to make your offer unique is to infuse it with your values.”
But you can’t really do that if you don’t know what those values are. So spend some time thinking through the values that you want to bring to the online service that you’re about to build.
3. Leverage your current strengths
By strengths, I mean the existing skill set that you bring to your new service.
Why does this matter? Because you don’t want to make this offer test dependent on having to learn a whole new set of skills.
Think about what feels comfortable to you now. If you’re not sure how to pinpoint your current strengths, ask yourself an important question:
“What part of what I do feels easy to me?”
As an example, when I was working as a designer I discovered that logo design feels easy to me. And if you know anything about design, you know that logo design is a very well-paid strength.
Look at your own strengths, and ask yourself what parts of your job feel really easy, especially if they’re services that are oftentimes hard for other people.
4. Develop a simple delivery framework
What do I mean by framework? It’s simply a process that you take people through to deliver the transformation that you promise with your service offer.
For example, right now I’m walking you through my Smart Start framework. This comes directly from my Offer Accelerator program. The Smart Start is a 30-day process for helping people go from offer idea to sellable offer.
Your framework shows your prospects that you have a methodology that takes them from point A to point B. You have a proven way to get them where they want to go.
This is super important because seeing that you have a framework helps your prospects to trust you, and to trust that they’re going to get results from the service that you offer.
Having a simple framework makes your service offer easy to understand and to sell.
Returning to my example from above, let’s say I decide to add logo design services. The framework for my new logo design service might look like this:
Step 1, client meeting. Meet with a client, find out more about how the logo’s going to be used, who it should appeal to, when they need it.
Step 2: Logo idea. Over a seven-day period, develop three to five logo ideas to present to the client.
Step 3: First presentation. Present the logo ideas to the client and gather feedback.
Step 4: Logo evolution. Edit the logo ideas based on client feedback.
Step 5: Finalize the logo. Gather final feedback, and create finished logo art to meet all the media needs.
You can see that there’s nothing special about the framework. It simply states the step-by-step process that I use to deliver my service.
You can do the same.
When you sell your services online, the magic happens when clients see that you have an easy-to-understand, step-by-step process.
A framework is reassuring to your clients. So take the time to develop your framework.
5. Create your service test offer
Your new service delivery plan is going to happen in two parts.
First, there’s the big dream, full-sized version of your service that you want to create in the long run, with all the bells and whistles.
Maybe it’s modeled on something that you’ve seen, or something you’ve experienced yourself. Maybe it’s simply a brand-new solution that you want to bring to the marketplace.
Write this out and describe it in detail. Don’t be afraid to dream big.
Second, simplify your big idea delivery so you can test your new service.
That means you find the fastest, easiest, lowest-tech process for delivering your transformation with your new service.
When you create your service test offer, this usually involves finding one or two customers who are willing to go through this new service process with you.
You don’t need an elaborate sales process to do this. Keep that sales process easy and low-key. Try just meeting with your existing clients and proposing that they give this new service a test — and give them a great price on it.
That’s going to allow you to start testing your new service as soon as possible.
Want to learn more about the offer test process? Watch the video above.
Subscribe to my YouTube channel to get all my latest videos.
6. Nail down your pricing strategy
What are you going to charge for your service?
First, think about this: How is your new service going to impact your client’s lives? Not just now, but next year and five years from now.
Can you put a value on that transformation? It’s probably a pretty high number when you really think about how your work could impact their lives.
Don’t worry — I’m not going to ask you to share this number publicly. I just want you to do the work of figuring out the true value that your new service will deliver, so that you feel comfortable charging a premium price for what you do.
During my Offer Accelerator program, I walk members through my premium pricing process. It all starts with what I just asked you to do, which is to think about the lifetime value of the transformation that you’re going to deliver. What is this transformation worth to your customers?
Next, I want you to think about pricing as something that you will use strategically. Remember, people assume that your offer is better when you’re unafraid to charge a premium price for it. That’s just the way we’re wired as human beings.
When a service costs more, we wonder what it includes that other services don’t include. More expensive things make us feel like they must have something a little extra!
Now that you’ve worked out the lifetime value of your transformation and you have that large number in mind, think about what the regular price for your new service will be. What’s the base price that you would like to get for this service?
For example, if you want to charge $3,500 for your new service, consider testing it by offering it at $1,750.
If you want to charge $2,400 for your new service, consider testing it at $1,200.
A quick review:
- You’ve looked at who you want to help.
- You’ve developed a framework for helping them.
- You’ve simplified your service delivery so that you can test your idea.
- And you’ve worked through how much you’re going to charge for this test service.
You know what’s next, right?
7. How to promote your new service
The promotion process is going to be much easier if you go into it understanding that it happens in stages.
The main stages of a promotion are:
- Cart open
- Cart close
You’re going to share different themes at each of these stages — stories that you’ll tell that will get people excited about joining your new service offer.
The pre-launch stage happens before you have your new service for sale.
This is where you talk about the challenge that your service solves. You talk about it publicly and warm up your audience to get them thinking about that topic.
In the pre-launch stage, I recommend that you engage and educate your audience, using these stories that you develop.
They may be stories about clients. They may be your own stories, or stories about your industry, or the topic that you help with, or stories inspired by the lives of your ideal customer.
You can share these stories in client meetings. You can talk about them on social media. If you have an email list, you can mention it in your email messages.
It’s as simple as talking about your topic before you have your new service for sale.
One note: People ask me all the time how to explain that a service is brand new and they’ve never sold it before, because they don’t have any testimonials for it.
You can turn this whole situation on its head and use it to your advantage. Be completely transparent about the fact that this service is brand-new — and you’re looking for people who want to work with you as you develop it. You’ll find that there are people who truly enjoy being involved with you in this way.
Give your offer testers an aspirational name like Founders, or Charter Members, or Pilot Program Participants.
Your service is going to deliver transformation even if it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that you want it to have eventually. So don’t apologize for the fact that this service is brand new — celebrate it.
Cart open stage
In the cart open stage, your service is for sale. Because we’re talking about a test, you’re really just looking for a small group of people who will be willing to pay your half-off price to come in and use your test offer to achieve a transformation.
For this reason, it’s important in the cart open stage of your service test, to inspire and encourage perspective customers. You inspire people by sharing stories about what success looks like or could look like for them. And you encourage them and help them to understand that they can make the change they seek.
You invite them to test your service and share that you have limited spots available, and they’re available for a limited time.
Cart closing stage
Cart closing is the last stage in your promotion. In this stage, you are about to stop selling this new service, and you’re going to motivate people to sign up before your deadline ends.
Stories can help in this stage as well, especially stories of successful customers that you’ve helped in the past.
And yes, I know you don’t have testimonials for this exact service, but if you have testimonials from people who’ve worked with you that speak about how reliable you are, or how trustworthy you are? These kinds of testimonials can work wonders during this cart close stage.
Be sure to emphasize that the opportunity to get this new service offer at the introductory price is ending soon.
8. Celebrate and review — next steps
You’ve offered your new service. What’s next?
You’ll have a new group of Founder, Pilot Program, or Charter customers, and you’re delivering this testable service offer to them.
You’re getting direct feedback about what’s working for them and what else they need. Your new service is getting stronger by the day, because you are working with flesh-and-blood customers. This is iteration in action.
This is the whole reason that we test in this way — when you do a live test of your offer and you work with people directly and you get feedback, you can improve it as you create it. I call this “earn while you learn.” and it is a beautiful thing.
Here’s the other outcome that might happen.
You might discover that your audience didn’t respond to the new service format that you put in front of them.
If this happens to you, you have a choice to make. You can either reconsider your service offer and reposition it, repackage it, and try again.
Or you can come up with a completely different solution for the ideal customer that you want to help.
If you need to come up with a new solution, just go back through the process outlined above.
Start with your ideal customer, move onto your values and your strengths, map out a framework. Go through the steps again and see if you come up with a different service offer on the other side of these steps.
If you need to start again, I hope that you’ll take a moment to celebrate before you start over.
You did a hard thing. You tested an idea, and now you have more data to work with than you did before you ran your test.
I’m proud of you!
Now that you know how to sell a new service online using my Smart Start approach, please remember this:
Do not forge ahead with an elaborate new service before you test a small version of it with real people who will give you feedback and pay you to help you build something that truly meets your ideal customer’s needs.
This is how we leverage one of the most important advantages to having an online business — the advantage of developing your offer in an environment where iteration is fast and easy.
Ready to sell your services online? Follow these eight steps to test it first — and earn while you learn. It’s the smart way to build your professional services offer.
What to read next: The 3 Stages of a Stress-Free First-Time Product Launch Plan