FirstLight Franchise Blog

How Does Selling a Service Differ from Selling a Product?

There are many types of businesses in many ever-emerging industries in the world today. However, every business shares one characteristic—they either specialize in selling a product or a service.

As CEO of FirstLight Home Care I have come across many service professionals who market and deliver their services the same way they would if they were selling a product. Below are a few key points to remember about selling services and the ways they differ from selling products.

Selling a service is selling a promise.
When selling a service you are selling an intangible idea. Long gone are the days of easy sales with empty promises. As a consumer, we all expect more today.  Today’s consumer is quite savvy and is unlikely to purchase without a considerable belief that your service comes at a value. Most companies in the service business, from ad agencies to franchise companies; utilize testimonials, white papers, case studies and more to illustrate their credibility. In many ways this is like taking out a loan. You can’t simply walk into a bank and be approved for a mortgage. You have to show that you are “good for it” that your promise has merit. Likewise, your customers want assurances that you will deliver what you offer.

Selling a service is selling a concept.
Let’s say you are in the business of producing and selling car wax. To move more units you would market the benefits your wax can bring to your customers, like how you use a special formula for the wax that your competitors haven’t yet tapped into. Now, let’s say you are selling the service of waxing your customer’s cars for them. It might help to advertise that you use the best products on the market, but then your customer could purchase those products on his or her own. Instead, you have to sell a concept. You could say that your service professionals can wax a car in half the time, allowing your customers to enjoy other activities instead of spending hours of their day waxing their car. In this example, the concept of the services you are selling is time. Find the benefit of your service and market it as a concept that your customers believe in and business increases the potential for expansion.

Selling a service is selling an experience.
If something goes wrong with the production of a physical product, there is usually time to place a new order and correct errors before the product reaches your customers. This is not the case with selling services. With services, there is no distinction between production and delivery. Consumers experience services in real time, meaning they receive the benefits of a service while the service is being provided. This is a key point to remember as it leaves little room for error and affects your brand image immediately. With this in mind, anyone in the service business must strive to ensure the service—the experience—is impeccable and up to standards.

By now you should have a clear idea about the key points between selling a service and a product. Services are different from products because the consumer experiences them at the time they are created, they are intangible and therefore often require validation, and they are sold more effectively when their benefit is sold as a concept. If you are in the business of selling services, look at your approach and ensure your services are being presented to maximize your growth potential.

Jeff Bevis is President & CEO of FirstLight Home Care. Jeff has more than 24 years of experience in franchising and a very favorable record of accomplishment accelerating growth in a variety of franchise concepts, including senior management leadership developing an earlier concept in senior care industry. He has earned the Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) designation, meeting rigorous requirements from the franchising industry with a trademark reputation for building strong, trusting relationships with franchisees and enabling strong unit economics at the franchise level to build system growth.