January 25th 2013

Secrets of Selling Services. Everything you need to sell what your customer can’t see. Stephan Schiffman


Secrets of Selling Services. Everything you need to sell what your customer can’t see.  Stephan Schiffman.  2012. ISBN 978-0071791625.  Guest post by David Moulton.

As with most sales books one reads, I picked up some selling tips from Stephan Schiffman and he also reinforced some of my biases in selling services.  However my overall impression was that this is a book you would pick up in the library but not one that you would purchase.  On the plus side he discusses the 80/20 rule for client meetings – they should talk most of the time while the salesperson asks lots of good questions to understand what is happening in their customer’s business.  His comments on ‘knee-jerk’ discounting by salespeople is very accurate and his assertion that no discount should be given unless there is a suitable concession on the buying side is well-taken.  The author does not use the word value very often and that can be the issue when a purchaser pushes back on your price.  We may understand the value of our services but if our customer doesn’t, it will likely be impossible to convince them that you have the solution to their situation.  I would also criticize his book for not mentioning ‘Rusher’s Gap’ when dealing with pricing.  In my experience with selling services, one of the big issues with customers is ‘project creep’ – the price of the project increases as more and more issues come to the surface.  Rusher’s Gap is the difference between what the proposal quotes and the buyer’s experience with ‘project creep’.  Discounting your price is not going to have a major impact on a obtaining a sale if the buyer has seen quoted projects double in cost after signing the contract.  I found the dialogues that Schiffman created to be less than believable.  And finally after commenting numerous times that service selling is different from product selling, the author concludes with the following comment “A service is a kind of a product…the fundamentals of selling don’t really change whether what you’re selling is a physical product or a service.  Really, it’s just the emphasis that’s different” (Pages 217-218).  Thanks Stephan – I read over two hundred pages to have you reach this conclusion.  My dad used to call this type of comment a BGO – Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious.  My final correction is that President Gerald Ford was never a Senator – he served in the House of Representatives until he was named VP by Richard Nixon (Page 141).  The book showed promise but in the end the final result was disappointing.”

Guest post by David Moulton

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