I’ve noticed that it’s becoming more and more popular for creative entrepreneurs to sell their services through a “shop-style” setup on their websites. This method usually involves sending site visitors to some variation of a “hire me” where they can click a “buy now” button to purchase services you offer.

This sales process is great for businesses selling products that simply need to be shipped (or delivered via email if it’s a digital product like an ebook or course) after someone makes a purchase. However, I don’t think this method is the best for creative entrepreneurs whose primary focus is selling service-based offers.

In this post, I’ll share a few reasons why I’m not a fan of using the “shop-style” setup to sell service-based offers, then I’ll show you an alternative step-by-step sales process that tends to be more effective for creative entrepreneurs.

You can’t (and/or shouldn’t) work with everyone

Selling your services in a “shop-style” setup makes it possible for anyone to purchase them. This can put you in an uncomfortable position where you’ll feel obligated to work with whoever clicks the “buy” button — even if they’re not quite the right fit or your availability is limited.

I’m a firm believer that every creative entrepreneur should aim to get to a point in their business when they no longer feel pressured to say “yes” to every potential client who expresses interest. In fact, being more particular you get about who you want to work with and the type of work you’ll do for clients, the more freedom you end up having in your business.

That said, you want to sell your services with a method that gives you an opportunity to “vet” potential clients prior to committing to work with them.

You’ll be playing catch-up right from the start

Since selling your services in a “shop-style” setup doesn’t allow for an opportunity to discuss workflow, expectations and other important details with potential clients, you’ll have to play “catch up” after anybody buys to make sure all the necessary info gets exchanged.

When someone reviews your services in a “shop-style” setup and then clicks “buy now”, this bypasses some important steps that would otherwise allow you to exchange important information with potential clients. (Think: general business info, timeline, agreement, etc.)

A sales process that gives you more control allows you to manage the flow of information so that both you and the client start with a clear understanding of how you’ll work together.

You’re stuck with a whole lot of hassle if things don’t go seamlessly

Unfortunately, from time-to-time clients might need to cancel services they’ve booked – like if they have death in the family, car wrecks with high deductibles, etc. And if they purchased these services in a “shop-style” setup, this complicates the cancellation process.

Once someone clicks “buy now” and pays, if things don’t end up working out, you’re stuck fumbling through the awkward process of refunding their money. Not to mention the whole situation can be made much messier depending on the payment processing tool you use and whether or not you offer payment plans AND what your contract says (if they’ve already signed, that is). 

The bottom line here is that sticky situations come up for most creative entrepreneurs, and selling your services in a “shop-style” setup can make these instances a lot harder to deal with.

Here’s a 4-step sales process that puts YOU in control…

Step 1: Start the process with a questionnaire or inquiry form.

When potential clients fill out a form to express interest in your services, it allows you to gather key information right from the start, so you stay ahead of the game.

Personally, I like using Typeform to do this. For more on how I use Typeform in my business and specifically in my client workflow, check out this post.

On your services page, you can add a button that takes people to a form with questions their business, project, budget, etc. — whatever is relevant to the services you offer!

Step 2: Follow up via email and consider including a Welcome Packet.

Now is your chance to share more details and expectations that can help both you and your potential client determine if you’re the right fit to work together.

A great way to do this is with a Welcome Packet. Here’s a post that will walk you step-by-step through creating one of these for your business.

Step 3: Schedule a quick call to connect.

It never hurts to have one more opportunity to make sure a potential client is a good fit.

Getting on a call also gives you a chance to provide clarity and answer any questions that might have come up for them as they reviewed your follow up email and Welcome Packet.

Step 4: Send an agreement and invoice.

Once you’ve established that the client is a good fit for you, send an agreement (aka a contract) and initial invoice to seal the deal.

If you’re looking for a tool to help you with this final step of invoicing, check out the video below for my review of a new tool for entrepreneurs!

Need a contract? Grab one from The Contract Shop! (aff. link)

Billy is simple! (UPDATE 6-18-19: Billy has been acquired and is now known as Sunrise!) It has a more modern design than most of their competitors with bright colors and big buttons. Billy also has two user interfaces, one for the business owner with a focus on dashboards, invoices and receipt capture, and the other for your accountant, with a focus on the journal, financial statements, and reconciliations. Best of all, Billy combines the double-entry features of Xero or Quickbooks with the ease-of-use of Freshbooks.

With Billy, you can send quotes to your new clients, and easily convert those quotes into an invoice. Stay on top of your invoices in the dashboard, and if a client is late? Billy can add late fees to your invoices! You can try Billy free for 14 days, if you’re one who likes to test the waters!

Sunrise has a free-forever tier that includes credit card processing. They also now have bookkeeping services, from $99, $299, and $499 depending on how many transactions there are. Users will work with a real-life bookkeeper to get their finances in order to help maximize their tax deductions or get ready for small business financing applications.
Other new features include cash-basis accounting, and Paypal payments. Plus a very robust roadmap that includes recurring payments on invoices, budgeting, and automatic categorization.
No matter how you decide to sell your services, your website is a big factor in helping people decide they want to work with you. Make sure your site stands out so you end up booking more of your ideal clients. 

This post does not contain affiliate links, but it is sponsored by Sunrise. All opinions are honest and are my own.