for Your


Selling the Invisible 1

(or The Girl Who Talked With Her Eyes and Said "Do You See What I'm Saying?") 2

When someone buys a product they can inspect it beforehand, or return it if it's defective.

That's why selling services is so much harder than selling products, physical objects: when they buy a service, it doesn't even exist yet.

1 A field guide to modern marketing by Harry Beckwith
2From the title track of the album "Ponderous" by 2NU though the track you really want to hear is "Frank's Chair".

Buying a service requires, more than anything else, trust.

So selling a service requires, more than anything else, creating trust.

But how?

How Much Trust Can You Earn With A Guarantee?

Your service should always be guaranteed. Always.

Until you're famous your guarantee should be in writing. Once you're famous, your reputation (brand) is your guarantee.

And your guarantee (n) can only cover what you can guarantee (v).

Best Beloved and I have each operated book marketing businesses with different specializations.

Her social media business guarantees that they'll do the work they've promised.

They do not promise to hit certain growth targets. She cannot force people to respond to social media posts.

I've been asked (many times) to work in exchange for 'a share of the profits.'

There are simply too many variables I can't control.

Is the book really that good? Will the author participate like they should? Will people buy it? (Since, y'know, that's the point, and completely outside the control of any action on anyone's part.)

I can edit your book, create a brilliant marketing program, and work it like James Brown, but I can never ever guarantee sales.

A guarantee has another drawback: a prospect has to trust you to honor it.

Chicken. Egg.

Like many things, guarantees are part of the minimum offering to get through the door. They're not a broad lasting solution to the trust problem.

How Much Trust Can You Earn With References?

You should always be ready to share references with a serious prospect. If you have a list of 3-5 clients who love you and will always be ready to say so, get their permission and share them with prospects who need a nudge.

Since nobody would share references who don't love them, your prospect will take anything they hear with a grain of salt.

Like quality service or a guarantee, references are part of the minimum offering, the admission price just to get through the door. The value of references is directly proportional to the trust the prospect has in you. Which is why we're sharing them in the first place.

Chicken. Egg.


So now what?

How Do You Earn Trust?

Because there are two aspects to trust, there are two ways to engender it. Use both if you can, but either will open the door for the other.

There are people you'd trust with your credit card but not your car. They're honest as the day is long, but they're a terrible driver.

You might trust that an airplane pilot knows what he's doing, but that doesn't mean you'd loan him $20.

The two primary aspects of trust are

  1. integrity
  2. capability

If someone has one or the other, we can find a way to work with them.

How Does a Prospect Determine Whether We Have Integrity or Capability?


Trust is transferable. A referral from someone they trust gives them temporary trust in you.

The temporary trust of a referral gives you a chance (one, singular) to show them your abilities as well.


Demonstrate your abilities. When the supermarket gives you a sample to taste, you know right away if it's right for you.

Give them a small but meaningful project at no charge. Show them how good you are—and how friendly and helpful, too.

Showing them your abilities while eliminating all their risk shows your integrity as well.

Trust earned.

May I earn yours?

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