Selling the Invisible is an easy read and yet very powerful in its message. This book is a must read if you are selling services. It cuts through all that you think you know about selling and brings you to what you really need to know to be a profitable, successful, world-class services business. Harry busts many myths being understood as gospel truth. The ideas in the book are hugely thought-provoking, yet bite size actions that you can immediately take that add up to move your business forward with velocity. It is hugely entertaining as well, being full of anecdotes and interesting examples.
The book is especially useful if you want to grow your business. Read the book to avoid being blindsided and driving on the wrong road to nowhere. It is truly a field guide as the name says it is and will guide you right back to the path of fulfilling success.
Here are few gems from the book:
1. Unfortunately, this focus on getting the word outside distracts companies from the inside, and from the first rule of service marketing: The core of service marketing is the service itself.
2. Assume your service is bad. It can't hurt, and it will force you to improve.
3. ... everyone's focus for marketing for the year immediately turns to "How do we sell this?"
Instead, everyone should start at ground zero. They should ask, "Is this viable anymore? Is this what the world wants?"
4. Stage one in an industry is product driven. Stage one companies offer their clients the accepted product. ... Stage two is market driven. Stage two companies offer their clients the desired product. ... Surprising the customer is the driving force in stage three of an industry. Stage three, as a result, is imagination-driven, and a company in this stage offers the possible service. ... Every service company must look at stage three; that is where glory, fame and market share lie.
5. For a dozen reasons, conduct oral surveys, not written ones.
6. Focus groups tell more about group dynamics than about market dynamics. ... You are selling to individuals. Talk to individuals.
7. "We can have great talent, products, prices, and advertising. But if that sales clerk at the end of the line fails, everything fails. The buyer doesn't return. And if the buyer suffers a very bad experience, he tells all his friends not to come, either.
Everyone in your company is responsible for marketing your company.
... Marketing is not a department. It is your business.
... Every employee should know that every act is a marketing act upon which your success depends.
8. Find out what clients are really buying.
9. Most companies in expert services - such as lawyers, doctors, and accountants - think that their clients are buying expertise. But most prospects for these complex services cannot evaluate expertise... But they can tell if the relationship is good and if the phone calls are returned. Clients are experts at knowing if they feel valued.
In most professional services, you are not really selling expertise - because your expertise is assumed, and because your prospect cannot intelligently evaluate your expertise anyway. Instead, you are selling a relationship. And in most cases, this is where you need the most work.
10. Before you try to satisfy "the client", understand and satisfy the person.
11. ... your prospect faces three options: using your service, doing it themselves, or not doing it at all. In many cases, then, your biggest competitors are not your competitors. They are your prospects.
12. The competent and likeable solo consultant will attract far more business than the brilliant but socially deficient expert.
13. Service businesses are about relationships. Relationships are about feelings. ... In service marketing and selling, the logical reasons that you should win the business - your competence, your excellence, your talent - just pay the entry fees. Winning is a matter of feelings, and feelings are about personalities.
14. ... in successful companies, tactics drive strategy as much or more than strategy drives tactics. ... Sometimes, the very first tactic you execute changes your entire plan.
15. If you are prone to being certain, copy Jay Chiat. The head of Chiat Day, the ad agency behind many of America's most conspicuous advertisements, Chiat carries a note in his pocket. The note reminds him that whenever he is in an argument he should remember the note's three words: "Maybe he's right."
Maybe others are right and you are wrong - even if you are certain you are right. ... also not to be overwhelmed by other person's total convictions.
16. You are just this invisible thing - a service - a mere promise that you will do something. ... It is less risky for the prospect to do nothing. At this point, you do not need to put more sale in. You need to take some of the fear out. ... Always remember: the prospect is afraid. The best thing you can do for a prospect is eliminate her fear. Offer a trial period or a test project.
17. Rather than hide your weaknesses, admit them. That will make you look honest and trustworthy - a key to selling a service.
18. To broaden your appeal, narrow your position.
19. "If they can do something that hard, then by lesser logic they can do this." ... In your service, what's the hardest task? Position yourself as the expert at this task, and you'll have lesser logic in your corner.
20. A position is a cold-hearted, no-nonsense statement of how you are perceived in the minds of prospects. It is your position.
A positioning statement, by contrast, states how you wish to be perceived. It is the core message you want to deliver in every medium...
You can establish your positioning statement by answering the following questions:
Who: Who are you?
What: What business are you in?
For whom: What people do you serve?
What need: What are the special needs of the people you serve?
Against whom: With whom you are competing?
What's different: What makes you different from those competitors?
So: What's the benefit? What unique benefit does a client derive from your service?
21. In positioning, don't try to hide your small size. Make it work by stressing its advantages, such as responsiveness and individual attention.
22. ... if you do not have a focus, you soon might not have a business.
23. If good value is your best position, improve your service.
24. A service is a promise, and building a brand builds your promise.
25. The most desirable services, then are those that keep their promises.
This also means that the heart of a service brand - the element without which the brand cannot live - is the integrity of the company and its employees.
26. A service is a promise. You are selling the promise that at some future date, you will do something. That means what you really are selling is your honesty.
Tricks and gimmicks aren't honest. Gimmicky headlines, swimsuit models, direct marketing tricks - they are all a form of bait and switch.
27. People notice marketing communications that refuse to strain the truth because people notice the unusual and understatement is unusual. Far better to say too little than too much.
28. Tell people - in a single compelling sentence - why they should buy from you instead of someone else.
29. The most compelling selling message - I understand what you need.
The selling message "I have" is about you. The message "I understand" is about the only person involved in the sale who really matters: the buyer.
Find out what they want.
Find out what they need.
Find out who they are.
It will take extra time, but it can make the sale.
30. If you make a client think you will do better than you can do, the client will end up disappointed. Even worse, she will decide that you misled her, or lied.
It isn't worth getting that business. A disappointed person who thinks you are a liar will usually tell three other people. Suddenly, one great sale has become four big problems.
... This means that one of a marketer's most suicidal marketing weapons is hype.
31. Gail Sheehy began her research looking for the secrets of truly contented people. She wondered what made these people feel such a sense of well-being. She learned that "people of high well-being" shared just a few traits and this was one: They all had taken an enormous risk.
Selling a service involves personal risks. You can look too pushy. You will be rejected. People won't return your calls. You run the risk of feeling bad when you go home at night.
But the rewards of all these efforts will make you wonder: Why didn't I do that in the first place?
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book word to word. It was refreshing and rejuvenating to read the complex ideas so simply laid out. Read the book, apply the ideas and create a whole new way of doing business joyously and effortlessly.
The inquiry I want to leave you with is: To be successful at selling services, who do you authentically need to be from the inside?
For my clients, an even deeper inquiry - What kind of leader would you need to evolve into to build a successful, profitable with much higher margins than the industry, world-class services organization?
Wishing that you make an enormous difference to your customer community that they chase you instead of you chasing them.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.