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Sell Results, Not Processes

By: Robert Middleton

Robert Middleton, of Action Plan Marketing in Palo Alto, Calif., has helped hundreds of professional service businesses attract new clients and get paid what they're worth.

His website is a resource for marketing professional services. Visit it at Action Plan Marketing.

If you sell an intangible service you have no doubt experienced some perplexity regarding how to talk and write about your service so your prospects understand what you are really offering. What I see more than anything else is a tendency to talk about the "Process" - what you do and how you go about doing it.

It might be useful to realize that, for the most part, people don't give a hoot about process. They care about one thing and one thing only - what benefits they will get from your service. Period. Yet the problem persists: "We offer the XYZ program that teaches companies the key competencies in human resource management and diversity interfaces. By using the bifurcated, amalgamated model developed by Dr. Johnson Trainbow we show how the these competencies can be accelerated significantly in any given target group."

Do I exaggerate? Only a little. We are in love with our processes. After all, we invested a huge amount of time, money and creativity in developing them or learning them. So it seems so unfair that our prospects show so little interest. Why if we just try a little harder and explain a little more they just might get it.

Don't press your luck.

You need to start speaking (and writing) in the language of results -- results that actually mean something to your prospective clients. Recently, while looking over Alan Weiss' brochure (Million Dollar Consulting) I was impressed by his very simple approach.

His brochure starts with the following statement: "Since 1983, Summit Consulting Group. Inc. has been assisting organizations to improve productivity and performance." Simple, direct, and results and benefits-oriented. He then follows with a list of companies he's worked with over the past 14 years - about 16 companies across several industries.

All of this reeks of credibility. Then he follows with several simple but results-oriented statements: "Our work is collaborative, involving client personnel and resources and the transfer of skills to the client... We work against specific objectives with clearly established outcomes and timing, contributing to client business goals." In other words, he knows what he's doing and he gets the job done.

If Alan, who works with some of the best known companies in the world, and has an income in the seven figures, can be so simple and direct, is there any reason you can't be as well? Of course not!

Here are a few guidelines to help you speak and write about your business results in a way that is both persuasive and believable.
  1. State your crystal-clear bottom line benefit first. "We improve human resource staffs so that they hire and retain the very best people for their organization."

  2. Give credibility to what you do by stating who you've worked for or what specific results you've achieved. Don't have much? Use whatever you can use legitimately. "We have gained a reputation for quick and cost-effective HR interventions that have saved companies hundreds of thousands of dollars."

  3. Speak about what you do and how you do it (process) only in the context of bottom-line benefits and results. "Our money-saving HR improvement methodology is based on a five-step model of competency that has been proven effective in over 500 companies internationally."

  4. Give background information on yourself that supports the case that you are a capable and competent professional. Mention your credentials, publications and past professional responsibilities - not in a resume form (you're not looking for a job) but in a narrative of several paragraphs.

  5. Read everything you've written with the eye of the prospect - "What's In It For Me?" (WIIFM) Does everything you say point in that direction or do you start meandering down the "Path of Process" where no man (or woman) fears to tread.
Until you can speak and write about your services in this no-nonsense way, you will continue to erect your own self-made obstacles to business success. People won't understand what you're really offering and the sad part is, they won't even care.

© Copyright 2000, Robert Middleton

Other Articles by Robert Middleton

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