What are you really selling?
Sales & Marketing for Professional Services & Sales Tips

What are you really selling?

January 24, 2014

by Tony Vidler

what do we sell in financial services?It is a simple enough question in the headline, but answering it correctly makes a profound difference to a professional’s business prospects.

In professional services businesses, what are you really selling?  All too often when I ask this question the answer is “product”….people think they are selling insurance product, or wealth creation products, or taxation products….

Then they wonder why clients do not value them as an adviser.  It’s obvious isn’t it?  The clients will never value the adviser in professional services if the adviser thinks they are selling products, because the adviser made the product the “valuable thing”, not themselves.

In a service business we are only ever really selling one (or more) of these three things:

1.  Experiences

2.  Feelings

3. Convenience

Clients will engage a service business because they are seeking a particular experience…driven by an emotion, and creating a moment in their life that will become a memory that matters.  Holidays….tracing family history…..sailing a yacht….these are examples of experiences that matter to clients because they are moments that matter.

Closely associated with creating the experiences are the feelings that they generate, however feelings are not just about experiences.  Peace of mind and calmness….control…..love….respect of their family….they are examples of the real outcomes that clients seek when engaging professional advisers.

Often though in service businesses the primary driver for client engagement is convenience, or delivery.  There is not a particularly high level of feeling attached to excellent dry cleaning services, or car washing, or completing tax returns.  The primary driver for the client is that the service either removes complexity from their life, reduces stressors, or it provides them with more time to do other things instead.

It’s actually never really about the product in financial services.  The product is a vehicle…a way of creating the outcome that the client seeks.  The outcome that the client is seeking – even if they don’t express it in this manner – will be essentially about achieving an experience that they will cherish; creating or maintaining a particular feeling that matters; and preferably doing it in such a way that the delivery of the service is convenient.

The Holy Grail for the professional services business is to tap into all three for their clients.

A service level from the business which is centered on creating convenience for clients at any level possible is a starting point.  Understanding the clients values and aspirations intimately in order to help create the feelings that matter, and then actively trying to create that outcome for them, is highly valued. Coupling that with helping the client achieve the significant experiences they crave creates advocates for life.

To build a fabulous service business you need to put the products in their rightful place.  They are a means to an end and certainly need to be fit for purpose.  But that is all.  What you are really selling is the ability to help clients create the life experiences and feelings which they value.

© 2013 Tony Vidler.  All rights reserved.
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