Marketing a service can be difficult. How do you show your prospective clients your quality, your features? How do service-based professionals convince prospects to use them?

By its very nature marketing a service is more difficult than marketing a physical product, says Avdi Hamit, who will talk about “Marketing for Service Businesses” at a free seminar sponsored by the Greater Princeton chapter of SCORE (Service Core of Retired Executives) on Thursday, January 17, at 6:45 p.m., at the Princeton Public Library. E-mail or call 609-393-0505.

A native of Australia, Hamit says he holds a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from an overseas school, but declines to identify the institution. He says has worked as a COO, CEO, and CFO, and has served on boards of directors at public and private equity companies in North America, Australia, Asia, and Europe. He was also corporate secretary for Telstra, an Australian telecommunications company.

Hamit says there are people who are expert bookkeepers, computer professionals, human resource professionals, or graphic designers, for example, who are very good at their jobs, but they don’t know how to market their services to other small businesses. “It is crucial to understand the inherent differences between product sales and marketing and services sales and marketing,” says Hamit.

For business success, says Hamit, service professionals must understand “the significance of a solution and relationship sales approach.”

Service companies get most of their new business from referrals, so it is crucial to understand the concept of “consultative selling,” says Hamit. This means learning to ask the right questions and really listening to the answers.

When meeting with prospects it is much more important to ask them questions about their business and really listen to the answers. Then discuss — not tell them — how you can help to solve the problem. “Always remember that it is people who buy, not companies. You are selling to people and that means interacting with them,” says Hamit.

Hamit also suggests that people know what they are selling. Many of the new business owners he meets do not really understand their product. Service professionals are selling trust and confidence in themselves and the idea that they can be relied upon to handle the aspects of an area where their client is not an expert.

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