There are many, many individuals who, in my opinion, are wasting time, money and effort trying to sell their services online. They include coaches, trainers, consultants and other providers of "soft" services which include a major element of person-to-person contact.
We all know the mantra of find, know, like and trust that is part of the sales cycle. It's true, and has been for thousands of years, that we buy from people we trust. But trust, as we also know, is hard to establish online. It stems most strongly, and most easily, from personal recommendation from another person we trust. In the absence of direct recommendation, trust can be enhanced by testimonials, case studies, and reputation.
So here's my take. I'm happy to buy a commodity online - a music download, a flight, a hotel. I'm more wary of buying a more "risky" product, such as a financial service, but I'm prepared to go with a well-known brand, probably one that I know in the physical world (First Direct being a prime exception to that rule). However, would I buy a service such as business coaching or marketing services from a company I had only encountered on the web? Absolutely not.
I had this discussion with a group of fellow speakers at a convention in Orlando earlier this week. All agreed that they would only buy high-cost person-to-person services from someone who was not only recommended by a friend, but that they had met face-to-face.
So here's my advice. We all need websites and a social media presence. But for many of us, that's not enough. We need to get out there and meet people in the real world. We need to speak and offer help and advice in person. It may sound old-fashioned, but that's still how high-value relationships are created. Fair enough, the initial contact may be online, but the deal will normally be closed in person.
In the past 20 years, I've met a lot of people who are trying to sell person-to-person services solely via websites, SEO, email marketing campaigns and the like. A few are successful, but a lot aren't. The most successful people I know have built a network of strong, real-world relationships with people who trust them and recommend them constantly.
Golfers say "I drive for flash an putt for cash". I say "The web for knowing, A handshake for closing"