“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” – Charles Mingus

Many people think that selling a service over the Web must require an entirely different approach than selling a product. But, in my experience, that is not the case.

When you sell a product, the key to success is to make sure that every aspect of your site design and e-mail sales copy focuses on how the product is going to solve visitors’ needs and benefit them. When you sell a service, the focus is on how YOU are going to solve visitors’ needs and benefit them.

Once you’ve wrapped your head around this concept, everything else should fall into place.

That said, here are five strategies that can be transferred directly to a service-based website to dramatically increase the leads you attract, the deals you close, and your overall online income.

Strategy No. 1: Establish your credibility.

When you sell a service, you are typically selling a relationship with yourself. Basically, you ARE the product. So establishing your credibility — essentially establishing your value — is critical to closing the sale. You need to not only establish the benefits of the service you’re offering, you need to establish the value of YOU providing this service. There are a few different ways you can accomplish this:

  • Include a good, professional picture of yourself.
  • Provide a list of your credentials.
  • Provide evidence that other clients have been satisfied with your services — with testimonials, if possible. An online portfolio of your work might be another option. (A landscaper, for example, might include pictures of well-manicured properties he has designed and maintained.)

Strategy No. 2: Be specific about what exactly you’re offering.

You can never assume that providing information about what you’ve done for other clients will enable visitors to your site to make that leap and picture what you’ll be able to do for their businesses. You need to be very, very specific about what you’re offering . . . how it compares with what your competitors are doing . . . what you specialize in . . . the kind of guarantee you offer . . . and how your service will be delivered.

Strategy No. 3: Demonstrate flexibility.

People will not only want to see proof that you’ve delivered great results for other clients, they will want to know that you are prepared to customize your service to meet their own unique needs.

So here again, thorough sales copy that clearly explains how you’re willing to customize your services will be very important. Do your clients typically fall into a few different categories? Can you talk about each group and explain how you adapt and change to meet their individual needs?

Strategy No. 4: Make it easy for leads to contact you.

Just as someone selling a product over the Web needs to make a seamless transition between their sales copy and their order form, you need to make a seamless transition between your sales copy and the point of contact.

To make it as easy as possible for your visitors to contact you, provide an online form . . . your e-mail address . . . your phone number . . . your fax number . . . your physical mailing address . . . and any other relevant information (such as the best times to call you). And make sure this information is highly visible and easily accessible from every page of your website.

Strategy No. 5: Encourage referrals and repeat customers.

Here’s another technique you should be using, no matter whether you’re selling a product or a service. Always, always, always follow up with existing clients! Are they happy with the job you did for them? Is there anything else you can do for them? Do they know anyone else who might benefit from your service? E-mail has made following up with your existing customers extremely easy and cost-effective, so there is no excuse for not taking advantage of this source of easy extra income.

Don’t be afraid to remind previous customers that you’re there. And don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. If you’ve done a good job for someone, they’ll likely be more than happy to refer their friends and business associates to you. But if you don’t ask, they’ll rarely think to do it. Don’t leave this to chance.

(Ed. Note: Corey Rudl, president of the Internet Marketing Center, is the author of “Insider Secrets to Marketing Your Business on the Internet,” a comprehensive “how-to” guide for e-business success.)